Marathon Update: One Month To Go

In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Okay, maybe only the first part applies to me right now. But it’s hard to believe I’m writing this with less than four weeks to go before my first marathon, when it seems like just the other day that I wrote my first update one month in.

And yes, I did stop to look around once in a while during that time. Plenty of things happened, perhaps most notably that yesterday I ran three whole hours at once.

At the one month mark I was getting ready to beat my personal best non-stop time of 83 minutes, and now a few months later I actually managed to run for three hours. I know it’s not a big deal for a lot of people, and it’s still only about two-thirds of the full marathon. But for me it’s a huge accomplishment, and I’m sitting here the day after not really believing I managed to push my body that far. Damn.

With four weeks to go, I’m actually way behind on my training schedule. I wanted to hit the three-hour mark at the end of March by doubling up on my runs while I was in Germany; instead, I had time for just one hour-long run during my vacation and then came back with a brutal cold that knocked me out for over a week. As a result, I’m just aiming to do one run at each time before upping it by fifteen minutes for the next weekend, and I’ll be doing somewhat shorter runs at least once during the week to keep my muscles loose.

I didn’t really read any sort of literature on marathon-running before starting my training, but since the London Marathon was last week I did happen to come across “How to run a marathon”, a headline that naturally piqued my interest. The article mentions easing up on the runs three weeks before the actual marathon so as not to wear out your body too much. Since I still want to hit 30 km before the 21st, I unfortunately can’t afford to take it too easy right now.

And, now that I’m burning over 1,500 Calories on a training run, I’ve decided to up my focus on nutrition too. On Saturday, for the first time ever, I ordered a non-alcoholic beer at a bar (and it cost more than a regular beer, go figure). I won’t be drinking until after the run, and I’m trying to cut out as much artificial sugar as possible. At the same time, I have to get used to carbo-loading again after spending so many years trying to eat fewer carbs, especially at night. I’ll be trying out different recipes for the next few weeks, and after the race I’ll be sure to share some tips on what worked for me that may also be useful for anyone else training for their first long-distance run.

To be honest, the running itself has hit a point of diminishing returns for me. It is quite a sacrifice to give up a quarter of your weekend for one run, especially after an already busy week. I do eight laps of the park right now during which I have come close a few times to tripping over small dogs, and I have to carry a water bottle with me. I’m currently hunting down some fancy gel packs to fuel me during my next run since I’ll undoubtedly get a cramp if I chow down on a banana. We’ve had three weeks of consistently strong winds in Copenhagen, blowing at 30 km/h with gusts of 70 km/h. (Outrageous, isn’t it? I often wonder why the Vikings thought of this as a suitable place to settle. Then again, I suppose they were Vikings.) Each week new muscles hurt; this week I’m having trouble sitting down and my calves feel like they’re covered in bruises. The most satisfying part is when I get home, enter my time into My Fitness Pal, and see a crazy high number come up for “Calories burned”.

But now I’m so close. I know these last few weeks will fly by. Then the race will come, I’ll run it, I’ll forever be able to say I ran a marathon, and I’ll never have to do it again if I don’t want to. Then again, it would be cool to run another marathon in Antarctica or a safari

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