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A Beginner’s Obstacles

Posted April 22, 2015

My German heritage and upbringing have taught me that succeeding in or at any big event or challenge is all about being prepared.

So, training for my first Marathon not only required extreme physical and mental strength, but also the most time and dedication to any one single event that was to occur in my adult life (except my wedding, buying a home, birth of my children, etc).  During my training, I faced and was able to overcome many obstacles and setbacks in order to finally get to the point I am at now (scared).   I decided to narrow them down to the top 3 obstacles in order to not to take up too much of your time although I had a total of 37.

Shin Splints:   When my long runs surpassed the 10 mile mark… the shin splints started showing up.  In the past, the only solution that really worked was to completely stop my training (lame).  I would then start over with a 3 day a week 20 minute run/walk program in order to recover (boring).  Well, I did not want to stop training and start over.  After researching the web and getting advice from friends, I was exposed to many different remedies.  I tried all of them.  And of course, the one that looked and felt like it wouldn’t work…..did work (it was the only one left)! It was very easy and took no time at all – 3 minutes a day tops.  It will not seem like it is really working until 1-2 weeks later…when all of a sudden…they are gone (rah rah)!

All you need is a rubber exercise band.  Keep it taut and wrapped around both your ankles.  Then, take 20 side steps to the left keeping the band tight. Then, take 20 side steps to the right, keeping the band tight.  You should feel a little pressure and strain on the front or side of your lead shin.  Repeat 2 more times.  That’s it.  I do this 3 times a week and the shin splints have not come back since (back in this)!

Calf Cramping:  At the midway point during training, I started heavily cramping in my right calf.  It first occurred on mile 11 of my 16 mile long run.  I was pretty tired and running down hills very sloppily.  My calf cramped up so tight I could not even walk.   I stretched and then ran through it the last 5 miles (because I’m not smart).  I took a week off to try and let it heal but the next 4 runs, my calf would still cramp up after 3 miles to the point where again I couldn’t walk (bad muscle memory).  I couldn’t take any more breaks to recover.  It was crunch time!  I was already foam rolling, Epson bathing, and stretching constantly, which I thought was enough.  I asked advice and was given many different remedies (even from witch doctors).  What finally worked was adding compression socks and electrotherapy.  The electrotherapy was only performed once by my chiropractor.  The rolling, stretching, salt baths, and socks stayed during the whole training. I have not had any cramps since.

Long Run Nutrition:  The whole process of learning what you can consume during your long runs was not easy.  I started with the basics.  Peanut butter sandwich 1.5 hours before the run. Then, I would eat a Goo and a Sports Drink combo during the run.  My body did not like that ….and it let me know each and every time after I finished my long run.  Over the next few weeks through trial and error, I was able to figure out my stomach was more appreciative of solid foods at a slow consistent pace throughout the run.  It did not like short and intense quick shots of each supplement and then nothing after.  In keeping steady, my energy levels stayed up through the entire run – Success!

Final Formula:  ½ Banana and Quaker Granola bar 1.5 hours before race.  I have 2 liquid bottles on my belt.  1 filled with Gatorade and 1 filled with water.  I do not drink more than the 1 Gatorade during the entire long run but as much water as I need.  I consume 1-2 Trader Joes Apple squeezers instead of the Goos and a Starburst every once in a while as a distraction.  No nausea, no bodily complaints after the run (happy gluties)!