Have you always wondered whether you could run a marathon? 26.2 miles is a long journey, both mentally and physically, but it can be such a beautiful journey. Whether you think you can or think you can't train for and run a marathon, you are correct. Believe in yourself, start training, find a coach, and see what's possible. That's exactly what RADrabbit Monique Bienvenue decided to do and she is now just 5 weeks away from her marathon debut at the Surf City Marathon in February. Read more about Monique's own beautiful journey in her own words:
Marathon Training: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
With my first marathon only five weeks away, my nerves are through the roof, I have the appetite of an adolescent boy and my legs have never felt heavier. Training over the past few months has been physically, emotionally and mentally challenging, but as I prepare to tackle another 70+ mile week, I definitely feel like a stronger, smarter runner. Overall, training to run 26.2 miles has proved to be an awesome journey! It has helped me discover a lot about myself as a runner and as an individual, and I’m eager to see how I continue to improve over the duration of these next few weeks!
Lessons learned thus far:
1. Not everyone will be supportive, and that’s okay
Whether it’s family or friends doubting my abilities to run a marathon, my abilities to run fast or my abilities to make time for training, I have definitely received my fair share of doubt from those closest to me. While some of their comments have shattered my confidence in the past, I’ve learned how to channel negativity into something beautiful! (You’d be surprised to see how well you perform when you use your emotions to fuel your workout(s))
2. Not every workout will go as planned
I remember looking at my training plan a few weeks ago and noting an easy seven mile run on a Wednesday. I thought to myself, “Just seven miles? I’ve got this.” Mind you, that seven mile run was followed by an eight mile run earlier that Sunday, 10 miles on Monday and a 10 mile track workout that Tuesday. When Wednesday finally rolled around, my legs were sore, but I thought nothing of it. So you can imagine my dismay when I went for that seven mile run only to feel like a sloth. It took everything out of me to get through that run; my legs felt like boulders and I couldn’t believe how exhausted and lethargic I felt.
That run crushed me. I kept thinking to myself, “How am I supposed to run 26 miles when I can’t even run 7?” Luckily, a quick conversation with my awesome coach afterwards helped snap that negative mentality right out of me. After a good pep talk, and a nice session with the foam roller, I was able to resume training the next day with a positive mentality.
3. Hanger is real, VERY real
I remember sitting at my grandmother’s dining table on Christmas day and patiently awaiting the food to come out. I hadn’t eaten anything for the past two hours, and my energy was dwindling. Well apparently, my face must have had some weird expression on it, because my brother looked at me and said, “Are you okay? You look mad.” And I said, “No. I’m just hungry.” Needless to say, I devoured my meal when it finally made my way, and I even asked for seconds. My family was in disbelief. LOL.
Moral of the story: nutrition and performance go hand in hand. In order to run well, you NEED to eat well. While I’m still learning a lot about nutrition, I’ve noticed a significant difference in my performance when I include protein and carbs in my diet, as opposed to when I didn’t.
4. Staying accountable is the key to success
Running an average of 10 miles a day is NO joke. It’s hard, it’s time consuming and if we’re being honest, it’s not always fun. (Can I get an Amen here?) Luckily for me, I have an awesome coach and a great group of friends who know to follow up with me after a workout. I can almost guarantee that every evening I’ll receive a few texts saying, “How was your run, Mo?” or “How do you feel?”
It’s those simple messages that keep me going. I know in my heart that if I skipped workout, I’d not only disappoint myself, I’d disappoint those who believe in me as well.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself
I’m a super Type-A perfectionist by nature, and while that works for my line of work in the public relations industry, it does NOT work in training. You see, while I’d like to think that I can always hit the paces assigned to me, or run certain distances with ease, that’s just not the case.
I remember talking to my coach after a hard workout one night, and her response really hit me. She said, “Marathon training is all about patience and dedication.” While my dedication is there (on most days) I definitely lack patience (my family and friends know this all too well, lol!). I’ve come to learn, however, that when it comes to training, you need to look at the big picture. When I find myself feeling frustrated after a workout, it’s important to take a step back and remind myself how far I’ve come in one year alone.
6. Sleep is essential
This was a BIG adjustment for me. On top of work, I’m heavily involved in my community. Philanthropy is a huge part of my life, and as the current public relations representative of one of the largest agriculture advocacy groups in California, I find myself doing a lot of work after hours. But just as any experienced runner will tell you, sleeping isn’t just important to training, it’s essential.
Granted, not everyone is the same, but I’ve come to discover that I need seven or more hours of sleep to perform well. Does that mean that I’m in bed by 9:30 pm sometimes? Yes, yes it does. :)
7. Your social life will change
I’m honestly very lucky to have friends who are either athletes themselves or are extremely career driven (shout-out to all of my PR and nursing friends), so they don’t judge me when I decline on social outings or skip out on a late night because of an early morning run. But boy oh boy, have I heard some very odd comments in regards to what I can or can’t do because of training. My favorite thus far has been, “Oh Monique can’t eat that; she’s training for a marathon.” (On the contrary, I CAN eat that and I can probably eat more than you) :p
While it’s easy to let unnecessary comments bother you, it’s important to remember that runners are our own rare, beautiful breed of people. We love pushing ourselves to the point where we can’t anymore, we love long runs in all weather conditions and we thrive off endorphins. Not everyone understands that lifestyle, and that’s okay!
8. Wear the right kind of apparel and shoes
If you like to live a blister/chafe-free life, it’s important to invest in proper running apparel. Nothing will ruin a run more than giant blisters and that awful chafing sensation. My recommendation? Find shoes that fit you well and buy clothes that have been specifically designed for runners. (So basically, invest in rabbit apparel; you won’t ever have to worry about chafing – yay!)
9. Ignore your inner voice that says you can’t do it
Yeah, that voice is a liar. Don’t listen to it. Just like anything else in life, running can be VERY challenging. Our bodies fatigue, our lungs sometimes feel like they’re on fire and more likely than not, at some point you’re going to feel like you want to quit. The funny thing about running, however, is that you CAN, in fact, do more than you think. Mind over matter, friends. Mind over matter.
10. There’s no community like the running community
Need some motivation? Talk to a runner. Feeling blue? Talk to a runner. Need food? Talk to a runner. Need life advice? Talk to a runner.
Us runners are a close knit community and will act as your biggest supporters, no matter how obscure your dreams might be. Why? Because we get it. We know what it’s like to prove ourselves wrong, to work day in and day out towards a goal; because we know what it’s like not to give up on the things that we are most passionate about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached out to my coach in regards to topics both running and non-running related. No matter what time of day it is, or how odd my question might be, she’s there to listen, offer advice and more often than not, knock some sense into me. (Thanks Jill, you’re the real MVP) <3
So there you have it, friends! Marathon training is A LOT of hard work, but every mile is worth it. With five weeks of training left, I’m more determined than ever to push myself to be the best runner I can be. Watch out, Surf City. I’m coming for you. ;)
- Monique Bienvenue, RADrabbit