A little more background

Before I get any farther in my training and blogging about it, I thought I’d give you a little bit more background on how I got from where I was on June 1st, 2011 to seriously considering a marathon.

As mentioned in the last post, June 1 was when I had my “to heck with feeling crappy” moment and started hiking the M trail somewhat regularly.   It was really hard at first.  I would have to stop and rest in the middle of some of the steeper legs of the trail, and at most of the switchbacks.  But over time it got easier and I was able to stop less often.  I nearly always stopped at the first switchback, though, to stretch.  I found that I got a lot less sore that way, which made a big difference in my motivation levels.  Eventually, the hike got easy enough that I started to run a couple of the legs (usually the 2nd and the 8th or 9th).  At some point I started to copy some of the other hikers and turn around to run back up some of the legs on my way back down from the M.

The point is, I didn’t just keep doing what was easy. I wasn’t satisfied with just doing the same thing, and neither was my body.  My body responded to being challenged.   If I didn’t challenge it, it did not reward me with the endorphin boost.  Now, don’t get the idea that I was “going hard” at these things.  I wasn’t and I still don’t.  I am a fairly lazy person and I’m still not what I would consider to be “in shape” at all.  But I’m a lot closer than I’ve been since my early twenties.  Even then I was thin but lazy so I still wasn’t very fit.

Right now, I’m far, far slower at my run/walk/run than I would like to be.  But considering I just started on 11/30, I imagine I will speed up considerably in the next  182 days.  I’m going to experiment a bit with my pace over the next week or two, and see what feels right.   I don’t exactly have a time goal for the marathon.  One of the presenters at the talk I mentioned, gave us the suggestion that a good goal for the newbies might be simply to finish before the food tent runs out of food.  That’s a very reasonable goal, to my mind.  My real goal is to finish and to have as much fun as I can along the way, both on the day of the marathon and during the training.

Most people who’ve done any training for something like this will already know the things I’m learning, but this blog is about being a newbie, so I’ll talk about some of that “obvious” stuff sometimes.  For instance, one of the things I learned at Wednesday’s presentation was that the cornerstone of my training is my weekly “long run” which will usually be on Sunday for me.  Right now, my longest “long run” has been the 4 miler I did last Sunday.  I think I’m going to do this week’s long run today, and rather than try to go farther than 4 miles, I will try to go faster and see how I feel.  I’m also going to play with my run/walk interval a bit and see how that feels.

While I’m looking forward to running with the group, starting on 1/22, I do value this time before class starts, and the opportunities I have to experiment with my pace and my run/walk intervals, without dealing with other people.

I’ve poked around a little bit at Jeff Galloway’s website and there seem to be lots of helpful suggestions and tools there.  One suggestion I saw there was to always rest the day before your long run.  Since I took yesterday off (not really on purpose, but I did), I think a long run today will be good for me and also help me out of the semi-depressed mood I am in.

That’s another thing that I find interesting.  I’m getting used to the impact exercise has on my mood, and when I’m depressed, upset or grumpy, I get the urge to go exercise so I can feel better.  That’s a really great way in which my body gives me some positive reinforcement, and it works.  We’ve all heard about that phenomenon from the exercisers in our lives, but most non-exercisers don’t really take it to heart as a truth.  I know I didn’t.  But now I know from experience and really appreciate it a lot.

So, my next post should be less background-y and more about something new I’ve learned or how I’m doing currently.

As with most bloggers, I love comments, even if they’re just a basic greeting to let me know that somebody stopped by to read.  I haven’t changed the default comment moderation settings yet, so comment moderation is turned on.  I’ll try to approve non-spam comments quickly and if it becomes problematic, I’ll turn off moderation.

Thanks again for stopping by!

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Introduction

In 184 days I plan to run the Missoula Marathon.

This blog is going to be about my journey over the next 184 days.  I’ll be posting about what I learn, how I feel, what I do and what I am going through.

I’ve never run a marathon before.  Up until  November 30th of 2011 I’d never really done much running beyond running to catch the bus or from one base to another during kickball.  But on that night, at the urging of a friend, I went out with the local running club for their (now our) monthly Beer Run.  I went out on the short route with the slow group who call themselves the “Back of the Pack” and with them, I followed the Galloway run/walk/run method, and went just under 3 miles.

I was hooked.   I can’t explain it.  I don’t understand it.  But what I do know is that it felt good and it felt like something I should keep doing.

From there I scraped my pennies together and joined Run Wild Missoula and signed up for the Galloway running class which starts on January 22nd.  I started going out on Sundays to do my own Galloway style run/walk/runs.  I found a training plan that suggests 3 runs per week.  The one on Sunday has a gradually increasing distance goal.  The other two (usually Tuesday and Thursday) are just short, 30 minute runs.  So I started to try to follow that plan.  I haven’t been perfect at that yet, due in part to the holidays, but I’m still working at it.

I can’t promise that I will make it to the marathon, or that I’ll finish the whole thing.  But right now, today, that is my plan.

Going back a little bit farther, it wasn’t all that long ago that I was 20lbs or more heavier than I am today and felt like utter crap.  It was actually just last May.  May of 2011.   I was in a bad place, physically and emotionally.

On June 1st, I’d decided it was time to do something about it.  I decided to modify my diet some, but not a whole lot.  More importantly, that was the day I decided to start hiking up the mountain near where I work, on my lunch breaks.

That first day I only planned to go up the first leg of the trail, but made it a touch farther.  I was very slow and it was hard. I was really out of shape.  But I kept at it.  I kept hiking two or three times per week and by June 17th I had made it up to the giant concrete M on the side of the mountain, that had been my goal.  And from there I kept at it.  I kept hiking. It got easier, so I took fewer breaks. It kept getting easier.  I kept trying to challenge myself.  Eventually I started to run a leg of the trail here and there.  I just kept pushing myself.  I was losing weight and feeling better.

Meanwhile, a good friend was urging me to come out and run with the running club.  At some point, he even got me to buy some good running shoes, which then sat in their box for months.

At first I was very resistant to the idea.  I hate running.  Running is hard.  But my friend persisted, and pointed out that there was a group of runners following the Galloway run/walk/run method.  In the end, I decided to give it a try because I wasn’t sure I wanted to hike the mountain trail during the winter and I felt that I needed to keep getting regular exercise that I could gradually increase in difficulty and keep challenging myself, as I had been doing.

I am honestly so glad that I decided to go out to the beer run that night.  I had a great time during the run/walk/run with the Back of the Pack crew, and after the run, I met and chatted with a bunch of really nice people over dinner and drinks.

Last night, I attended a free seminar put on by Run Wild Missoula entitled “Start from Zero and Still Run the Missoula Marathon.”  Even though the presenters all stressed that they didn’t really advise getting up off the couch and jumping straight into training for 18 or 24 weeks and then running the whole marathon, I still left that seminar feeling more confident that I can actually do this.  Yes, it’s going to be hard.  It might really, really suck sometimes.  But when it comes right down to it, I’m going to give it a shot, and I’m going to try to have fun doing it.

One thing you should know, though, is that I’m going to be honest with myself, and with the readers of this blog as I’m going along.  If, sometime during my  training I decide that I can’t do the full marathon, I’ll back off and do the half.  If I decide I can’t even do the half, I’ll start running some of the shorter local races. But that’s not my plan right now.  Right now, I want to do the whole thing.  I want to go all 26.2 miles.

In 184 days, I plan to run/walk/run the Missoula Marathon.  If you’re interested, stick around and we’ll see if the nerd girl can do it.