six lessons from six marathons

Home, finally!IMG_0778I don’t remember much of yesterday’s long journey, but here’s a snapshot from my short run this morning. Legs still a bit slow from multiple funfetti cakes and lack of sleep! What a fun vacation.

Continuing with the pensive run series, today I reflected on past marathon lessons learned. With each race I learn a bit more for the next… here are my top six!

1. Enjoy the run. My first marathon was through the city I was living in at the time — Baltimore! The course ran right through the block I lived in around mile 22, which was just what I needed to push me through the last few miles. I engaged with the crowd, gave high-fives, waved, and cheered with my neighbors, which helped me forget the end-of-race pain.DSC01372

2. Do speedwork. For my second marathon, I tried out incorporating speedwork into my training plan. I did track once a week. The result: an improved race time by 20 minutes!47202_612120533435_7294378_n3. Prepare yourself for race day. My third marathon was the Boston marathon — and boy did I mess that one up. I was totally unprepared for the cold weather and long wait time before the race. I basically sat in a shivering ball for about 90 minutes before I started running, which cramped up my muscles and wasted energy. I lost all hope and strength around mile 20 and cried as each fiber in my quads slowly shredded for the next six miles. It was definitely not my best race… but I definitely learned a lesson!


4. Cross train. For round four of marathon training, I actually went to the gym. It was crazy. Once or twice a week I did light weights, situps, pushups, leg lifts… all the good stuff that Runner’s World recommends for runners and more. The result: another fast race, and no injuries! I don’t know where any of the photos from Disney 2012 went… I think Anthony and I were still asleep when we finished this race (which started at 4 a.m.) so here is some stock photo.5. Engage in some friendly competition. My fifth marathon was a small one — only about 100 runners. I was toward the front of the pack, pretty much all alone. Two things that kept me going through the long, lonely miles were the woman in front of me and the woman behind me. Knowing that I had a chance to place and knowing that I was close to being overcome by the fourth place runner lit a fire beneath my feet and helped me power through to the end!6. Start out slow. Another tough lesson learned in my most recent (sixth) marathon was the importance of pacing. Though I usually don’t push it too fast at the start, I thought since the second half of the course was downhill, it’d be easy to “cruise” through the last ten miles and push through the first sixteen. Wrong. I think that no matter what the course looks like, you shouldn’t frontload your speed. It’ll come back to haunt you at mile 24… and you’ll walk the rest of the race like I did!

(Here I am smiling like a champ while I sprinted through mile 15… if I had only known I was about to hit the wall!)_DSC0088And those are all of the life lessons I have for you today. Have a great one!

  • What’s the most important race lesson you’ve learned?
  • Tips for jumping back into a routine after vacation?
  • What was your run like today?


  1. The only way to really jump back into a routine after a break is to just jump in…you might have to start slower at first, but if you don’t just get out there and do it, you’ll throw yourself off even more. I love your tips!

  2. Haha.. the best race lesson I have never learned is not to wear new shoes. I wore brand new shoes on a ten mile race (which was my longest race to date at the time) and almost-new shoes to a half marathon. Everything ended okay, but that’s part of planning ahead too!!!!!!

  3. What’s the most important race lesson you’ve learned – Don’t wear new clothes or shoes!! Ugh blisters and chaffing are the worst.

  4. this was great and totally helpful!!! You have run some great races and have learned from every single one!! That is awesome!! I am gearing up for training for my second marathon in Novemenber — Richmond!! I will take all of this advice!! thanks girl!!

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