Last September I committed to improving my health by focusing on a major life goal – completing a 26.2-mile marathon. I figure there is no better time than now to accomplish what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m healthy, somewhat fit and have few distractions that would get in the way of achieving my goal. It sounds like the perfect scenario. Well, I’m now less than two months away from running Grandma’s Marathon and to be honest, it’s been quite a painful, yet rewarding, experience.
As a high school athlete, I had no problem running hills, killers and laps. I had two hours everyday to commit to sports. Fast forward a decade, I’m trying to fit in time on the treadmill between meetings, volunteer work and family time. The “pain” I’ve experienced varies from shin splints, left knee issues and my mental readiness to get to the finish line. Before I decided to run a marathon, running was my way of releasing stress and getting away from the day-to-day office grind. Today, running is a race against myself for a small personal win consisting of discipline, physical challenge and rewarding results.
What’s really helped in preparing for the marathon has been the support and great tips that I’ve received. Pete Bils, fellow beds.com blogger, a sleep guru at Select Comfort and a marathon runner, has provided great advice on physical and mental toughness and how my Sleep Number bed can alleviate joint and muscle soreness caused by rigorous workouts. I’ve also read books, participated on message boards and put in the time on the treadmill and around the lakes (when Minneapolis is 30° or warmer). And, this Sunday, I’ll complete my first half-marathon during the 29th Annual Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon. Other tools that have helped me through the pain include:
• High-quality running shoes – My favorite brand is Asics but I’ve also worn New Balance and Nike. I tend to run my shoes into the ground (literally) so I replace my shoes about every six months. Asics have helped me avoid the ankle-roll.
• Sports Watch – I have a tendency to lose track of time when I run, so tracking my time helps maintain a steady pace during long runs.
• Yoga – Fitness yoga has definitely made a positive difference in working my muscles for stretching and strength.
• My Sleep Number bed – Sleep is always an essential element when maintaining a healthy lifestyle and recovering from everyday wear and tear, and is especially important to athletes in training. Since the start of my marathon training, my Sleep Number setting has decreased from 40 to 30 and now is a soft 25 in order to better support my back and muscle pains. Having a mattress that adjusts to support my leg and back pain while sleeping has helped me sleep better and allows me to awake well rested and ready for a new day of training.
What are your tips for training? What am I missing that has helped you be a better runner?
I’m looking forward to the half-marathon and will be back soon with a follow-up training post.