Running towards 26.2

This week feels monumental. It’s the first week of marathon training for me and Scott. Our first-ever marathon. Chicago. October 7th…d-day.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m a ball of emotions. Mixed ones.

I guess I have a pretty big fear of the unknown here. I have no idea how I’ll respond to marathon training. If I’ll love it (like you’ll all keep telling me I will!). If I’ll surprise myself by what my body becomes capable of doing over the next 16 weeks. If my whole goal of making this marathon training thing a part of my life but not my WHOLE life will work. If it’ll be fun.

So yeah, I have a lot of questions, a lot of unknowns going on here. But I guess that’s what this challenge is about for me — it *is* my year of ‘no limits’, and I have promised myself to get uncomfortable as much as I can this year, so I think what I need to do here is one thing: find my game face and put it on.

With that — here’s my plan outline for the next 18 weeks. I thought about sharing my entire training schedule with you here but you know what? That schedule is going to change about five jillion times over the next four months. So instead of sharing it with you in its entirety, I’ll share my approach  here and of course, will be blogging like a fiend about our training ups and downs throughout. I hope you don’t get sick of hearing the word “marathon” up in here because I’m fairly certain it’s going to be in heavy rotation. 😉

Chicago Marathon training – the EatDrinkBreatheSweat edition:

Focus on quality over quantity of runs per week (thanks to some really awesome advice from this girl, someone I admire very very much as a runner but also as person, I heart you girl!). What does this mean exactly? That I’m planning to run 3x/week for the majority of marathon training. I will start with 4x/week to start (which is what I usually train at) since mileage will be lower, but as the miles add up, I want to focus on making each run count. And each run will have an endurance element to it. Rather than spreading out my miles over three shorter runs and one longer run,  I’m going with one long run (12-20 miles) and two mid-distance (8-10  miles) runs per week.  Endurance is my #1 goal for training. All I want to do is finish this marathon — I’m not planning to break any land/speed records. 😉

Cross-train via barre n9ne classes (taking and teaching). This is ‘non-traditional’ in terms of cross-training as most would envision it (i.e. spinning, ellipticalling, swimming, etc.)  but it’s worked so well for me that I’m sticking with it. I’m a firm believer in strength training as hugely important to overall fitness…especially as a runner. I hate to see some runners throw strength training out the window when in “training” mode. To me, it’s the last thing you want to do — your body needs to be strong to endure the stress that running puts on the body.

Rest. Stretch. Rest. I am planning on at least one rest day per week and allowing for two rest days if I need it as the miles add up. And I will embrace that rest. 100%. There will also be regular stretching – both in barre n9ne class but also on my own. Tight hamstrings and hips are not a runner’s friend.

Hmm. After jotting this all down I’m feeling much better about my marathon training schedule and plan. I guess maybe I needed to ‘blog it out’ in order to get my head in the game, my game face firmly in place and my excitement level where it ought to be.

So here we go…26.2:  Scott and I are running towards you. Ready or not. 😉


72 thoughts on “Running towards 26.2

  1. Hi Jessica, sounds like a very good and decent plan. I’m still not sure whether I’m going to face my first marathon in October or not. One reason is that I still have absolutely no clue whether I need to have a plan for eating and drinking during the race. Once you start reading about it, it all seems to be soooo complicated: eat the right thing in exactly the very minute you need it. How, the f***, should I know?? Have you considered this? And what’s your plan for eating/drinking during the marathon?

    • If you want my very non-scientific/non-professional take on fueling during marathon training and during the race itself? I think its a very personal decision on what you eat/drink and how often you do so. For me, I’ve always been one that cannot take in all that much when I run because it leaves me running “heavy” for lack of a better word. I get a very heavy stomach from it and it hampers my running. So the challenge for me will be figuring out how much water I can drink during longer runs without getting that heavy feeling and also how much fuel I can take without overdoing it (or under-doing it, as the case may be). I figured it out for half training without consulting what “everyone else does” and found the right balance for me. But again, what works for me won’t necessarily work for you, you know what I mean? I’d suggest just giving it a test run and seeing how you do — because you’re right, all the information out there on blogs and things can get VERY overwhelming VERY quickly!

      I still think you ought to give the full a try, I know you’d kill it!!

  2. You’re training program sounds great and very balanced for the Chicago marathon. I’m intrigued by the barre workouts and will most definitely have to take one of your classes in Boston in the future, unless of course you bring Barre to Ireland 🙂

  3. You sound like you will be more than ready come October! And I think it is great that your goal is to just finish the marathon, sounds like that should be everyone’s goal for their first marathon!

    I was just wondering how does a marathon training plan work for someone like you who has now run a couple of half marathons?

    Exciting times and miles for you ahead!

    • I basically consulted a few varieties of marathon training plans online to see how they compared – a “beginner’s marathon” for someone who maybe has run one half marathon vs. an “intermediate marathon” plan for someone with more half marathons under their belt. Between that, talking to fab bloggy friends who have done this before and just knowing what has worked well for me in the past on a smaller scale, I came up with this plan. Ultimately, endurance is the name of the game here so that’s why my running will be fewer in terms of runs-per-week but longer in terms of duration. The last thing I want to do on race day is to poop out halfway through! Not sure if I answered your question though?? haha

  4. Sounds good to me! I’m glad you’re not trying to run 5 days a week like some plans have you doing. Seems like a definite way to burn out. You guys will kick this marathon’s ass.

    • Oh no way man. I’ve never been good at running more than four times per week (the occassional 5x/week weeks have snuck in there now and then but not when I’ve been running high mileage) so I’d totally question a plan that had me running 5x/week leading into such a big race. The last thint I want is to burnout, kill my legs and wind up injured leading into the race. And for me, 5x/week would set me up for that.

      THANK YOU for your vote of confidence, I need it!!

  5. This is so exciting. I can’t wait to hear you all talk more about training during the coming weeks. And I TOTALLY agree with you about strength training while training for a marathon. This is something I took for granted, which is why I ended up injured training for the half marathon. Good luck this week! 🙂

  6. I think barre is a great way to cross-train, it isn’t so much about a specific workout for cross-training so much as just working out and it not being running. Plus, varying the intensity. Plus you’re getting the resistance training in which is so important (you know I’ll agree whole-heartedly on that). And you’re going to surprise yourself I know when you start increasing the miles. Just think about the time in your life when you never thought 8-10 was possible!

    • You always have that knack of bringing around just the right pespective I need. I DO remember when 8-10 miles seemed like an unreal distance!! I actually can’t wait until 15 miles feels “good” to me, haha!

  7. Your plan is perfect sis. Why? Because it’s yours, and what YOU are comfortable with and what you know will work for you and only you. I am really excited for you guys and hope to hop into a run or 12 with you over the course of these training weeks! So, let’s pencil that in somewhere along your ever-changing plan mmk? XOXO

    • I NEED you to jump into some of these training runs with me. NEED NEED NEED! haha. So be warned, I will be harrassing you lots for company. 😉 Thank you sis — I can’t wait to see your smiling face on the sidelines in Oct!!!

  8. I’m with you girl! I’m starting Chicago training in two weeks (I usually keep up milelage to start official training a little later.) So exciting! I love your approach on the quality over quanitity, I’m taking the same approach. Trying to run so much just kills my knees. Anyway, look forward to reading through your training and perhaps we can organize a blogger Fitfluential meet up in Chicago for those that are running! –Ericka @ The Sweet Life (

    • I am SO excited you are taking the same approach and are running Chicago too!! Is this your first??
      I would LOVE to plan a meet-up while we’re all in town. It’s going to be an epic group of bloggers running Chicago from the sounds of it!!

  9. So excited for you! You are going to kick butt and can’t wait to hear all about the journey. I focused on quality over quantity for Chicago when I ran it last year and had much success so I hope the same goes for you!

  10. And you’re on your way!!! So exciting that your training is starting. I love the documentation of the qualitative aspects of your plan. I will definitely enjoy following on on this journey!

    • I’ve always been a qualitative girl as you know so of course my plan would be highly qualitative vs. quantitative, huh? I’m excited to have you follow along girl!

  11. I am training for my first marathon this fall too! (Toronto Waterfront – Oct 14th) So I loved reading your plan for your full marathon training! It looks awesome! I love that you are continuing with your strength training. I want to find a balance with my training as well, so I don’t burn out on running. WE CAN DO IT! Rooting for you from Canada!

  12. I love your training plan! I think that’s a really smart way to go. I trained for my first on 4 days, but would consider a 3 day quality run plan next time around. All those emotions are so familiar… and normal, but it’s what makes the accomplishment that much sweeter!

  13. Sounds like you have a game plan set. Thats great. Just make sure to be flexible and if you feel your body needing a rest listen. I usually run 3-4x per week when marathon training with a long run that builds slowly over weeks. 16, then 18, then 20, etc. I try to get in a 24 just for reassurance that I am ready. But most folks are comfortable building to 20 (or 22). Glad to follow the journey.

  14. your plan as it is now is a sound one – and yep, it may change, most likely! I know you will be prepared, though, and this will be (yet another) monumental awesomeness for you! XO

  15. I am *so* excited for you and have no doubt that you will rock both training and the marathon. I love your plan – it’s totally smart and sensible and reasonable. I can’t wait to hear what you think of this experience. Yay!!!

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  18. After being taking a break from the blog world, I was so excited to read yours today and play catch up:-)

    So marathon training has begun!! EKKKKS! You are going to love it Jess and you have such a smart approach that I know that it will play out beautifully. Have fun. That is the most important part of the marathon journey. Looking back, my favorite part of the whole experience was not crossing the finish line, but rather the long Saturday morning runs each week leading up to the race. Those were the moments when I laughed and cursed. Where I tested my strength and prayed to my Lord. Where confided in friends or zoned out to my favorite music. That is where I grew as a person and a runner. Embrace the journey! I am so, SO excited to read all about it:-)


    • Oh girl, I NEEDED your words today!! Your perspective on marathon training is just right for how I’m feeling right now – pretty anxious and unsure. I know, I know – it’s been ONE WEEK of “training” officially, but somehow I am finding myself having a hard time wrapping my head around this marathon thing. But when I read your words, I suddenly feel much calmer and sure of myself. You have QUITE the knack for that my dear! xoxoxo (and welcome back, I’ve missed you!)

      • Awe thanks lady *blushing* 🙂
        One other thought:
        I would get anxious and freak out every time I looked ahead at the whole training schedule. Take a deep breath and focus on the WEEK of training you are in. Or even the day. Try not to look ahead to much. Yes, 18 miles may seem intimidating now, but trust me -When you get to it you will be so ready and prepared for it! You will work yourself up to it and when the day comes, 26.2 will be challenging, yet you will be surprised at how READY and ABLE you are to tackle it.

        Just run the mile you are in. I believe I learned that from you my friend 🙂

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  22. I’m very sad that I got so busy I missed your very first post about starting your marathon training, but my friend, you know how we’ve talked and you know how I feel. You are going to rockstar your way through this and we will all toe the line together in Chicago! Can’t wait! XOXO

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