The difference between then and now: marathon training.

If you check out my training page HERE, you will find all of my intense OCD preparation for the Calgary marathon. I was really excited to begin training to run my first marathon. I used a combination of schedules, and created my own that fit my schedule and my fitness level. I loved it, but it was stressful and it definitely challenged me. I was running farther and faster than ever. Who needs rest days when you can run an extra five miles before a long school day? I thought that if I had done the research and gone over and above what most training programs recommend, I would kill it in the marathon. You know what happened during that training cycle? I tore my glute muscle and couldn’t run for five weeks, and then I got food poisoning the day before the marathon and ran the most painful race of my life. It was kind of the best thing to happen to me this summer. It was devastating and humbling all at the same time. 

No one looks cute crying, ok?


I had already signed up for the Edmonton Marathon before I had even run the Calgary marathon. My cousin signed up for it in the winter and obviously I had no choice but to sign up myself! I figured that if I hated running marathons and retired from them after Calgary I could always convince my mom to walk it with me. I had the worst race on June 1st, but here I am, two days away from running my second marathon, and I couldn’t be happier. I went for a walk this morning in the cool, crisp, almost-fall air, and I thought a lot about my training for Calgary versus my training for Edmonton. 


Calgary stressed me out. When I was injured and couldn’t run for a while, I got scared that I was losing fitness and speed, so I cross trained like a mad woman and probably made the injury worse. When I finally rested, I finally healed. I did lose a lot of speed, but once you have “returned” to running, you appreciate every single run that you do, no matter how fast or how slow. After feeling insanely nauseated and sick at the Calgary marathon, I promised myself that I would be less stressed training for Edmonton and not take running so seriously. I was calculating numbers and formulating training plans and converting paces and times and stressing about the most random things for the Calgary marathon, and it didn’t really work out in the end… so why stress?


Yes, I wrote up a training plan for the Edmonton Marathon. Yes, it had similar mileage numbers to my Calgary plan. Did I follow it every day? No. I didn’t do speed work when I didn’t feel like it. I cut tempo runs in half when I felt tired or not into it and I added progression runs when I felt great. I got each and every one of my long runs in, training in wind and rain and heat, without caring about pace or time, just running. I looked forward to Sundays because it meant I could hit the pavement for a few hours and release all of my weekly tension.


I wanted to do a few races for fun this summer, which meant altering my training plan, taking a few extra rest days to recover, and turning some long run days into half marathon race days. In the spring, I wouldn’t have changed an 18-miler into a half marathon day because that meant I would miss out on 5 training miles… but this summer, that meant I got to run a half marathon WITH MY BROTHER! I wouldn’t trade that day for the world.


Plus, I got a third place medal out of it, so…


I had more treats than I should have. I ate more chocolate this summer than I have in the past three years. I didn’t stress about food as much because I ate when I was hungry, and I ate what I wanted to eat, not what I “should” eat. I started to see food as fuel and it really helped change my attitude toward training. I felt better when I ate a banana before I hit the gym instead of nothing, and I felt great when I made sure I got enough protein into my day. You can write out as many meal plans and nutrient charts as you want, but if you’re not enjoying it, something should probably change. My mom has always enjoyed her favourite candy and treats when she wants them and she is still one of the healthiest people I know! Moderation, right?


The difference between then and now is that I am a lot more relaxed about Sunday’s marathon compared to the Calgary Marathon. I learned that stressing out about RUNNING makes you kind of hate it. Running is actually suppose to be a bit of stress-RELEASE, so I probably shouldn’t be getting obsessed about it. Even one of my running friends told me that I seemed so much more relaxed about this race and I truly am. I don’t have major goals for this race because my main one is to finish with a smile on my face (aka not dying of food poisoning). I traded a few paced runs for the chance to run with my mom, I switched a Sunday long run to Saturday so I could do a 100 km bike tour with my dad, and I walked from Canmore to Banff and back instead of doing my scheduled tempo run just because I wanted to. 


I didn’t get faster over the summer, but I am really ok with that because I had a really great summer of training. I didn’t get injured (let’s all cheer in unison for that one), I had lots of fun, I got to run with my family and friends, and I still cranked out 50+ mile weeks of marathon training. If I ever get stressed about running or race training again please remind me how much it is NOT worth it. Running is meant to be fun, so let’s keep it that way 🙂 


I feel ready for Sunday, not because I am ready to BQ or even PR, but because I just want to run and hopefully enjoy the race. I was stressed about Calgary and looked how that turned out. My favourite races where I felt the best were the ones that I was so relaxed for, like the RunWild half. I thoroughly enjoyed this short 12-week training cycle between Calgary and Edmonton and I am so glad I didn’t take myself or running too seriously. 

A few things to note about my above ramblings: If you are an elite athlete (because obviously all elite athletes read this blog), or you are training for a specific goal, my nonchalant training philosophy might not work 😉 Speed work WILL make you faster, but that just wasn’t my goal this summer. Oh, and the black and white photos in this post were to make it seem more epic and dramatic. 

Have you ever reached a point that you were becoming STRESSED about running, one of the most stress-free activities?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how did your training go this summer? 1 = terrible and 10 = you had a blast and it was the bomb dot com.

8 Comments

  1. Somehow I’ve avoided the ‘push myself at all costs’ attitude that I see in a lot of runners. Weird, because in sports that involve balls and pucks and sticks, I’m hella competitive. Anyway, I look at my times but really don’t care if I’m fast or slow, or how many walk breaks I take.

    All of that said, it killed me to take 10 weeks off to rehab a badly sprained ankle, and probably started running distance and trails waaaaay too soon. I’m slower than I was in the spring, but I don’t give a rat’s behind — I’m back running again, and I’m loving every step of it.

  2. I didn’t specifically “train” this summer, but did train for Calgary in June. I have to say, I love running. This mornings run was awesome. Perfect weather and felt good. Love this post. I do enjoy my candy, chocolate and wine. I will not ever give up the foods I enjoy!

  3. Great post! This summer I have been recovering from an injury so in that regard it was a 4; but I also ran my first half and had my dad there with me so for that portion it was a 10! Good Luck on Sunday!

  4. This was a great post to read! 🙂 I’ve been in a similar situation as you and ended up appreciating every single step on the roads after an injury. It’s so much more fun when you’re healthy and not stressing about it! I can’t wait to hear how your marathon goes on Sunday! Good luck and have fun!!! I’d give myself an 8/10 for training this summer.

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