by Jessie Powell in Stories, image by Nordea Riga Marathon

Marathon changes and must haves

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I’ve only completed one marathon, but I documented my marathon training in my journal.  At the time, I didn’t know if I would want to try for another full, but I thought in case that I did, I wanted to be able to look back and see what I could improve for the next time and what must I have in my training to help me reach my goal.

My marathon was in June 2011, and in July, I decided that I would like to run another one.  Over the summer while taking a break from training, I asked myself and reread my journals to find out what I could do better the next time around, and what also worked.  I finally came to some conclusions. 

What I need to do better


I pretty much did not cross train because I was lazy. I know…it seems odd to be saying that about myself when I trained for a full marathon.  How can a person be lazy?  My training plan called for cross training every Monday.  As it turned out, I used most of my Mondays for rest.  I am a teacher, I was coaching softball at the same time as I was training, so that meant after school we had either practice or games, my son was in his own baseball season, and my husband coached golf.   I had to do all my running in the early morning, which for me was getting up at 4am during the week and 2:30am on Saturday for the long runs.  By the time Monday morning rolled around, I was just plain tired.  My “real” rest day was every Friday, and most of the Mondays, I felt like I needed to sleep!  There were a few Mondays were I did fit in cross training, but I felt during the marathon that if I had stuck close to the cross training schedule, it would have definitely helped.


I am a self-proclaimed TERRIBLE stretcher.  In my years of running, I have never taken the time needed for proper stretching.  I’m very lucky that I haven’t been injured because of my lack of stretching.  However, I could certainly tell that my hamstrings suffered.  They are extremely tight which leads to my glutes feeling very tight.  I have begun to work on that and I spend a much longer time now carefully stretching.  But again, I could feel that lack of stretching during the marathon.

Light Weight Lifting

I definitely needed to strength train, but I didn’t.  Again, by the time I logged in the miles on my training plan, I was plain tired.  I skipped weights and felt in the marathon that a stronger core and upper body would definitely help my posture especially nearing the end when I felt like I couldn’t possibly hold myself up or run another step.

What I Can’t Live Without Next Time

Ice Baths

I had a love/hate relationship with ice baths, but mostly I loved them.  I would stockpile ice all week for my bath after my Saturday long run.  This is what I did.  I kept on my running tights and I don’t know if I was supposed to or not, but I did.  I put on a hooded sweatshirt.  While the water was filling up the tub, I warmed up some green tea and drank a big glass of chocolate milk.  Once the water was at the right level in the tub, I got in.  Once I was in, I pulled up my hood and dumped in the ice.  This is the part I hated.  That horrible, painful, take-your-breath-away feeling when that ice hits the water.  I would gasp for air because of the cold.  I would try as hard as I could to stay as long as I could, knowing that the longer I stayed, the better off my legs would feel.  I would sip on my green tea to help keep me warm.  The part I loved?  How great my legs felt after the bath and how they felt the next day.  I will never go without using ice baths on my next marathon.

Chocolate Milk

There is a lot of research out there on the benefits of chocolate milk and muscle repair after long runs.  Once I read that, I made it a staple in my diet after those long runs.  I cannot point to anything specific to back myself up on drinking chocolate milk.  I did not notice anything miraculous.  If there is any chance that chocolate milk is helping repair my muscles after a 16, 18, 20, 22 mile run, then I’ll drink it.   Plus, it sure tastes good after a long run… like a nice treat!

Chomps, Jolly Ranchers, and Gummy Bears

Odd combination, right?  I had two packs of Chomps.  I would eat one about 7 miles into a run.  The other pack I ate at about 15 miles.  I between the Chomps, I would alternate on the Jolly Ranchers and the Gummy Bears.  A friend of mine who had been in the Army gave me the tip on the Jolly Ranchers and Gummy Bears.  He said that in their training, they would have to run up to 20 miles carrying their heavy backpacks.  They sucked on Jolly Ranchers all the time on those runs because the sugar gave them a boost.  I would alternate those every two miles.  Again, I don’t have any solid evidence that it worked or didn’t work.  It was, however, a distraction for a while.

I hope that taking an honest look at myself will help me in my next marathon.  The only way for a person to improve, is to take away ego and make some changes.  I certainly plan to put in these changes when I begin training for marathon #2!

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