Marathon Training: Handling My Fear

Yesterday marked official Day 1 of my 18-week marathon training plan. I can’t believe this day is here. It seemed like such a far-away event when I used to talk about it. Last year, when I volunteered at the marathon expo and thought excitedly how it would be me the following year, I did not yet grasp the concept of my own training.

Dori and Missy at 2010 ING NYC Marathon Expo
[Volunteering at the 2010 ING NYC Marathon Expo]

And yet here it is, in front of me.

I kicked off Day 1 with cross training. Spinning at FlyWheel and Pilates Mat at Kinected through FITist. And today, Day 2, was my first official marathon training run: 5 miles. I never ran more than 4 pre-work before. Milestones all around. As excited as I am for what I am now in the midst of, I have some anxieties as well. Maybe you have gone through the same thing, or wondered if anyone else did. Maybe you’ll just think I am a whiny brat (#whitegirlproblems anyone?). Either way, here are my fears, along with my solutions on how I plan to handle them and get through marathon training as stress-free as possible:

1. Injury – I am terrified that my hip will start hurting again and I will have to stop my training. I am also worried that something else — a knee, an ankle, a shin will act up and then it will be this whole ironic “And I thought my hip would be what did me in!” story.

Solution – Remind myself that even if I train smart, some things are out of my control. I can always defer the marathon to next year. The marathon is not going anywhere.

2. Training is time-consuming – Marathon training takes lots of time! I woke up at 5:15 this morning to get my 5 miles in before work. Soon I will be doing 6, 7 and 8 miles on a weekday morning (I try to avoid running after work because I can’t always run after having eaten). Time away from sleep means I need to go to bed much earlier. That means cutting out evening plans sometimes, or getting my writing done ahead of time. Like today’s blog. It is slightly delayed because I was too lazy/busy to do it ahead of time. And the weekends? Those runs will frequently be in the double digits, getting as high as 20 miles. Not only does that kill the night before the run, it kills the entire day post-run as well. That is because I crash hard after any run longer than 7 miles. I just need sleep! And then when I wake up in the afternoon, I am G-R-O-G. Day, ruined. I’m not complaining. I am just saying.

Solution – Hope my friends understand how important this is to me (I believe they do). Cut out non-important activities (do I really need to wander the aisles of the Food Emporium every day? What is wrong with me?). As for the cute boy that makes me watch Franklin & Bash, I will have to see him on whichever weekend night where I am not waking up to run 16 miles the next morning.

3. Running more = fewer classes – I love Refine Method. I love Core Fusion, Core Fusion Cardio, Core Fusion Yoga and Core Fusion Bootcamp. I also try new classes to review for NBC NY: GO Healthy NY. I love classes. I love workouts that strengthen my whole body. I will have to drastically cut these down as I marathon train. Not only will one weekend day be devoted to my long run, but the other will usually be devoted to total, full, complete rest. There goes a bunch of weekend classes I love. And don’t even get me started on the weekday. I am thankful to have a training plan that allows me to run just three times a week, but even then I am taking less classes than I am used to. I have irrational fears about losing my muscles and my strength. I know that is absurd. Maintaing takes less work than building. I have my base, I can work hard when I am in class to keep that. But I get paranoid. So much of my career, my life, my way of thinking has been shaped by my love of these classes and of being strong. So while I recognize that I am thinking irrationally (don’t try this at home) I acknowledge that it is a source of anxiety nonetheless.

[At Refine Method in full hair and make-up]

Solution – Remember the terrible mistake I made when training for my previous half marathons. I didn’t want to stop my classes, so I stuck to my long weekend runs but barely did any weekday runs. In all three races, I struggled with knee pain. I also did not run as fast as I know I could have if I trained properly. I want to be smart about my marathon training; I can’t afford not to be. I only plan on doing one marathon in my life and this is it — it is so important to me that I finish this. My classes will still be here on November 7.

Dori finishing NYC Half Marathon Dori running 13.1 Marathon NY
[Happy despite the pain at my first two half marathons]

4. Professional life balance – My office life, which I don’t discuss much here, is probably about to get a whole lot longer and busier. Sometimes I wonder about running 8 miles in the morning and still getting to work on time (in my world, on time means early). I worry even more, however, about the evenings. On the two-ish days a week I get to take one of my favorite classes after work, what if I am stuck at work and can’t make them? What will that do to my sanity, my peace of mind? Especially when I already have the anxiety I mentioned earlier about taking fewer classes to begin with.

Solution – Remember that in the long run, missing a day (even if it is a class I crave and look forward to) will not be the end of the world. Neither will missing 5 classes. I can look into ways to get as much done in the morning as possible, even if it means having bad hair and looking ugly. I mean, who am I really trying to impress anyway right? I already have someone to watch Franklin & Bash with.

Dori jewfro 1 Dori jewfro 2
[My bad hair]

5. Fear of the unknown – Anything new or unknown can be scary. I never trained for a marathon before, and when I ran 8 miles last weekend (2 + the Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 10K – Recap TK next week. I love my playlist) after it was over I thought, “I can’t believe that in a few weeks I will be running double that.” It is daunting. It is overwhelming. I doubt my own abilities and I am wary of new situations.

[I made it onto the NYRR homepage. But soon I will run double this distance — will I still be so happy?]

Solution – Remember that lots of people do this. People with much busier schedules, people with children, investment bankers, doctors, people with disabilities — they do this. They train for and run a marathon. And remember my own experiences. When I began the Core Fusion Challenge, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But I jumped right in because it came at the perfect time in my life. And now, this is the perfect time in my life to train for a marathon. I don’t have a wedding to plan; I’m not pregnant; I don’t have children to take care of. This might be one of the last times in my life where I have so few responsibilities (I laugh as I write this sentence because I actually have more responsibilities now than ever before). But it is true. I am 28 years old. If I don’t do this now, when will I? The unknown is scary, yes, but training for 26.2 miles is an amazing opportunity and experience! I always hear people say they learn a lot about themselves while marathon training. I am excited to be a part of this group.

More importantly, remember that I am doing this because I WANT to. No one is forcing me to run a marathon! No one held a gun to my head and made me wake up at 5:15 this morning. I woke up because I wanted to.  All the fears I just described — they only exist because I want this.

The next few months will be tough, but my reward will be running a marathon.

I am here for the next 18 weeks because I want to be. Let the training begin.

In other news, check out my latest NBC New York GO Healthy New York post:

Dori’s Quest: IntenSati, When Cardio Meets Confidence

26 comments on Marathon Training: Handling My Fear

  1. elizabeth@ourcrazysweetlife
    July 12, 2011 at 9:06 am (7 years ago)

    Good, good luck to you! You’ll do great and we’ll be cheering you on all the way!

  2. MelissaNibbles
    July 12, 2011 at 9:07 am (7 years ago)

    Great post Dori! It sounds like you have a good plan. I wouldn’t worry about your classes so much. Running is what you need to do and you don’t want to overdo it; especially on the long run days. Like you said, the classes will be there in November. Good luck!

  3. ellen
    July 12, 2011 at 9:11 am (7 years ago)

    great solutions and totally common fears (at least i share many). for me, the biggest is that fear of the unknown. while i’ve trained for (and completed) the nyc marathon before, i know that this year anything could happen. i can do all of my training, but on november 6 there are so many different variables. keeping it in check — as you said, running the marathon is the REWARD at the end — is a really, really great mindset.

    good luck in your training! looking forward to following your progress :)

  4. Amber
    July 12, 2011 at 9:25 am (7 years ago)

    I loved this post! It must have been very therapuetic to think through all of that and put it down in writing. I’m so excited to follow your journey.

    Number four made me laugh out loud. My professional life is insanely busy right now (yet I sit at work typing this – hahahaha) and the first thing to go for me was doing my hair in the morning. Who cares if it is sweaty and gross all day? Indeed.

  5. Missy Maintains
    July 12, 2011 at 9:32 am (7 years ago)

    Wow I feel like that was just yesterday that I saw you at the marathon expo! I love this post and that you wrote out a solution to all of your fears. Now you can just read this post again anytime the fears arise.

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  6. Jess
    July 12, 2011 at 9:35 am (7 years ago)

    I love this post – how you talk so openly about your fears (because c’mon, we all face them with training for long races like this!) but even more importantly, how you plan to tackle those fears and maintain good balance AND avoid injury. You’re going to do great, I just know it!

  7. melissa
    July 12, 2011 at 9:48 am (7 years ago)

    You really write the most AMAZING posts! I don’t know where to begin. First, holla for being the face of NYRR. I also find balancing running and classes SUPER difficult. While I am a believer of the the three days of running a week (tempo, speed, and long run), I find that strength makes me very sore for running; it’s always a conundrum.

    You rock!

  8. christophe
    July 12, 2011 at 9:57 am (7 years ago)

    This was a very insightful post. It airs out fears that all athletes have. Your fears are normal, your solutions rational. I’m glad that you are taking this situation by the horns. I have no doubt that you will be able to do this. You have the desire, and that overcomes all else.

  9. Jen Correa
    July 12, 2011 at 9:59 am (7 years ago)

    I can relate on the pre-work runs. I cannot run with any food in my stomach either. I have to be out the door at 5 for a 3 mile run so expect to see me out running Staten Island at 4am some time soon to get the miles in. :)

  10. Ali
    July 12, 2011 at 10:06 am (7 years ago)

    I think this is my favorite post of yours ever. I can pretty much relate to every single thing you wrote here. I love that you gave solutions for each concern, though! You have a smart, positive mentality going into your training and that’s going to take you right up to the finish line. I’m so excited for you to start training and can’t wait to cheer you on in November!

  11. Megan @ Life As Megan Knows It
    July 12, 2011 at 10:51 am (7 years ago)

    You have such a positive outlook and that is what I love love about you! You are anticipating the worst (which you shouldn’t because you are going to be a rockstar)but turning it into a positive.

    The pre-work runs are rough but I always say to myself “your never going to regret a run but you will regret not running”

    Love this post Dori :-)

  12. Katherine
    July 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm (7 years ago)

    I can totally related to all your fears, but don’t worry everything will work out!!!

    It’s ironic, your mistake with your last marathon was not running enough and keeping up with your classes, my problem was running too much and not strength training enough. I ran A LOT, but my body didn’t have the strength to support it. So, don’t discount the NEED for your classes during your training :-)

    Best of luck!

  13. Carly (Swim, Run, Om)
    July 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm (7 years ago)

    I love this post, because I can completely relate. I started training for my first half marathon yesterday. It’s obviously not 26.2, a number which still makes me cry in the corner, but I’m still really intimidated.

  14. Jess @ Fit Chick in the City
    July 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm (7 years ago)

    Love this “I am here for the next 18 weeks because I want to be. Let the training begin.” I also love that there are so many of us running this race this year and we’re all here to support each other. I have almost all of those fears myself and like you need to write out a solution to each one.

  15. Maria
    July 12, 2011 at 2:30 pm (7 years ago)

    great post! Some of your fears is why I resigned from the Chicago Marathon. My first attempt at the marathon. I underestimated the time it would take to actually train properly for it. I just got married a few Sundays ago, and I didn’t think it was fair to me or my new hubby to spend our first summer consumed with structured running schedules. I also sprained my ankle a few months ago and it still wasn’t feeling 100% by marathon training so I didnt want to take any chances. There’s alwasy next year!! It was a very difficult decision to make but I feel it was best for me.

  16. Sam @ Mom At The Barre
    July 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm (7 years ago)

    I really liked this post. Don’t worry too much about classes. I completely understand because some classes are integral for my sanity also. But classes are not going anywhere. The marathon is something that is time-dependent. You only have 4 months to train for it so it trumps classes. Before you know it, it will be November and you can hit CF and Refine with a bang!

    I am excited to follow along as you recap your training and will be cheering you on in November!

  17. Cameo
    July 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm (7 years ago)

    Great posts! I am sure that many who are training for this first marathon would find solice in your openness and in your very sound-minded solutions. I wish I was half as smart as you at 28.

  18. Hannah
    July 12, 2011 at 9:43 pm (7 years ago)

    Good luck! You are right, Dori, this may be the best time to run a marathon (esp. because you aren’t pregnant…that would NOT be fun haha!). I feel like I’ve read somewhere (maybe Caitlin/HTP’s blog) that it’s natural to lose muscle when marathon training because you are doing endurance-based workouts more than strength-based ones. Of course it’s important to have strong muscles for long runs, but it seems like you need rest even more so. Sometimes you might notice that you need more than one day of rest, especially if you do two workouts in one day followed by a five mile run! Of course your legs will feel like lead!

  19. Jolene
    July 13, 2011 at 8:49 am (7 years ago)

    Exactly what I needed to read. Some of the same fears I’ve been writing about lately as I struggle to get my running back for the half I am planning on for August 14. You got this, now I need to convince myself that I do too!

  20. NicolaYvette
    July 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm (7 years ago)

    Go Dori! You overcame once already and you’ll keep doing it!

  21. maria @ Chasing the Now
    July 20, 2011 at 12:45 am (7 years ago)

    I’m dealing with the same thing–coming off an injury that seemed like it might never end and beginning to train for a marathon in November! Keep positive… I know it’s not easy, but like you mentioned, you might do everything right and still end up injured, so no point in being negative until that time comes (or hopefully does not come).

  22. Allison @ Happy Tales
    July 24, 2011 at 11:34 pm (7 years ago)

    Wow wow WOW! What a fantastic post! I love how you have really stepped back and evaluted all of your goals and fears. I just ran my first marathon in May, and can totally relate to some of what you’ve said back when I was training for it. I just started training for my second marathon this past weekend (The Savannah RNR marathon…I think it’s the same weekend as NYC? Maybe? 1st weekend in November for me…) and I can already say with confidence that i am SO EXCITED to go through the experience again. I can’t wait to follow along with your journey!


3Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Marathon Training: Handling My Fear

  1. […] July 19, 2011 at 8:48 am Thank you for your wonderful responses last week to Marathon Training: Handling My Fear. It is helpful for me to know other people have the same struggles and can understand how I am […]

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