From 0km to 42kms: My first 4 weeks of training for a marathon

“This is the last time I am doing a marathon”… this is what I said in May 2019 when I finished the Adelaide Marathon. I was in so much pain throughout the last 15kms and I could barely walk after finishing which led to be swearing that I’d never run another marathon. 

I always say that running a marathon is like having a baby. The hard training and the pain during the event is so much that once you finish it you almost always say “this is the last time” or “I’m never doing this again” – similar to when you go through pregnancy and give birth that may be hard at times and afterwards you may say “this is the last one”…

… but then you forget all about the pain and you look back at the happy memories of finishing the event, the sense of accomplishment and the motivation to have a new goal, you look at photos of the event and smile thinking how you did it (or you look at your baby smiling at you) and then eventually you decide to give it another go.

Fast forward to 2021 and somehow I have forgotten all about the excruciating pain and have decided to run another marathon, the Sydney Marathon in September. 

 

For the last two years I have not done any running. My typical fitness routine is gym based group classes like F45 or kickboxing. Sometimes I do cycling. Sometimes I try to go for a run but then end up walking.

For those of you who run and then have had to stop running for a bit  you know how “running fitness and endurance” really goes away quickly. You may previously have been able to run 10kms, but if you stop doing it and then start again you really have to start from zero. You could be “fit” in other sports but running is a different beast. This is why I am starting from zero again.

 

I am also not even going to tell you how long it took me to finish my last marathon. Let’s just say it wasn’t great. It wasn’t even average time. It was terrible. I was cramping the whole way through. I had to stop multiple times due to the pain in my legs. To the point that my husband and kids were wondering if I had an accident because almost every other participant had crossed the finish line except me. That is how bad it was. 

The below is me before and after the marathon in 2019. Yes I was smiling but internally I was slowly dying of pain….

But this time, I have set myself the goal to actually finish this marathon strong. Stronger than before. I am motivated to not make the same mistakes I did last time (not having trained properly, not taking my nutrition seriously, definitely didn’t have the proper hydration). 

 

Here is what I am doing different this time:

 

  • I asked a professional runner/running coach (hi Riley, Izzi and Jacob!) to give me a proper training schedule. With 5 months of training and starting from ZERO running fitness (I could barely run 2kms on my first day of training) I knew I needed to get help to be able to gain running endurance.
  • As part of the running training program, I joined their running group where we get together two days a week to train and then there are some long runs on Sundays where everyone gets together too. I never knew how much fun it was to actually run with other people! I am getting extra motivation to keep going when I see all the other amazing runners (99% of them faster and fitter than me) smash their running PBs.
  • I am also chatting to an expert about sports nutrition. What do I need to eat and drink to properly fuel my body. My very first consultation I said to Tara that I started drinking wine on Wednesdays “because it was basically the weekend”. She laughed. I’ve now learned that Wednesdays are not the start of the weekend and to try and minimise my alcohol intake at least during the week (but don’t you worry I can still have a few vinos ;P).

The below is me drinking on a Wednesday because “Wednesday is basically the weekend” 😛

After my first 4 weeks of training, this is what I have learned so far: 

  • SLEEP WELL AND HAVE RECOVERY DAYS: I’ve got a full time corporate job, I also have my own business (which I do after my corporate job), I’ve got a husband, a dog and two kids too. Between all of that I was getting no way nearly enough sleep. I didn’t realise how important it is to sleep to rest and recover your body so that it can function better the next day. I thought my 4 hours of sleep at night was fine. I am busy. I needed all of those hours in the day to do everything that I needed to do. For the last 4 weeks I started to sleep at least 7 hours although trying to get closer to the 8 hours when I can. I feel so much better and my body thanks me for it. Also getting 1 or 2 days of recovery days (no training). 

 

  • DRINK ENOUGH WATER AND PROPER HYDRATION: I must confess that I was very bad at drinking water. I have always known the theory around having as a minimum 2L water a day. I just never did. I got “too busy” to drink water. I am proud to say that I am now drinking a minimum of 2L a day although 3L is my daily goal. 

 

PREPD has also helped me immensely in the hydration space. I am not an athlete nor am I doing hours and hours of long runs. My training sessions this month have all been for an hour (nothing longer than that yet). I didn’t have PREPD for the first couple of weeks and by the third week I added it to my routine. WOW. The difference was palpable. I now have PREPD on my three key training sessions of the week. I noticed a HUGE difference when I take PREPD Prime the night before the session and when I take PREPD Recover after! Definitely a game-changer. I literally want to tell everyone how they need to add PREPD in their weekly training and not just for race days. 

 

  • DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF, YOU DO YOU. In a group training when everyone is running so much faster and so much longer than you it is inevitable to compare yourself. I’ve learned to stop that. I can’t compare myself to someone that has run their whole life, or someone that started their running journey 5 months before me. I’ve learned to focus on my own goals, to focus on my own small improvements, to focus on my own pace and my own ability. I am competing against myself and nobody else. 

 

  • RAMP UP YOUR TRAINING GRADUALLY: In the first week of training when I realised I couldn’t even run the warm up, I kept thinking what else can I do to get my running endurance up. If I didn’t have my coach, I would have probably started running every day to try to ramp up my running as fast as I could. But this is how injuries happen. I’ve learned to calm myself down and just enjoy the process. I am currently in my second month of training and my “long runs” are still only 5-7kms. But that’s fine. It is not good for your body to go from 0kms to long runs in a short period of time. For now, I am enjoying the process. Slowly and safely preparing my body for 42kms in (now) 4 months time!

See you next time! I’m going to go and post on Facebook about my training session today (Because if its not on social media its like it never happened)….only kidding.

Lili Thomas – PREPD marketer, e-commerce entrepreneur, lover of wine and good laughs, mother of 2 kids and a dog called Waffle, wannabe runner and athlete. 

Want to cheer me up during my marathon endeavours or have any questions about PREPD? Feel free to email me to lili@prepdhydration.com.au