This week, I committed myself to training for the Houston Marathon. Since it won’t come back around until the end of next January, I’ve got about twelve months to prepare.
I took up running for the meditative and cardio benefits it offers, not to be a competitive runner. So I’ve purposefully kept out of entering anything other than a fun run the entire time that I’ve been running.
But given the fact that it’s my home town, I’ll get to run downtown, and it’s so blessedly flat (despite a 127% relative humidity rate), I figured where better to start a marathon career?
Whether or not I’ll actually make it in is pretty much up in the air, since the popularity of the race led the organizers to go to a lottery system. Last year, both the half and full sold out in just 60 hours, so in the interest of fairness everybody throws in the entrance fee, and only the credit cards of those who are chosen will be charged. I managed to get out of taking statistics in grad school so I have no idea what my chances will be of getting chosen to run, but I’m going in with the full expectation that I’ll win a slot.
The organizers notify all of the lottery winners by mid August, so even if I don’t make it in, I’ve got a backup half marathon the week of Labor Day to run. Actually, it’s more like a 14 mile run but that’s plenty good enough for me.
In order to start getting ready for the marathon, I’ve got to start changing how I’m training. For starters, I’ve got to get serious about methodically adding the amount of time I run each week. Up till now, I’ve been just going at a nice leisurely pace for three miles at a time or an hour at a time. Now I have to start getting vigilant about the 10% Rule. I know that I’ll be able to go from 3 miles to 13.1 within a year, but my main concern is my pace. You may have read that my running style is more akin to a perturbed gestating fowl than a graceful athlete, so when I heard that the Houston Marathon is timed and HPD will start clearing the streets behind the stragglers, I realized I needed to get serious about moving my short little legs and my flat tooshie.
So this year is going to break down into goals, some of them directly related to running, some of them general health and nutrition. For the running goals, here’s what I’ve got.
- Register for a 5K as soon as possible to keep me on track. Done. I’ve got one coming up in March which will give me an idea of what kind of shape I’m in.
- Get one of those GPS thingies that measure my distance. I have no sense of time or distance, and I’m afraid I’m going to be one of those suckers who buys a watch to figure out my pace.
- Stock up on shoes and sports bras. So far everything is in good shape, but I’ll have to keep an eye on when I need to replace them. (I love new clothes!!!!!!)
- Plan out a more structured running schedule. Right now the weather’s dictating when I run. Now I’ll have to run in all kinds of weather.
- Get used to running in humidity. Now, given the weather in Houston in January is usually not that hot or humid, but you never know when a freak heat wave might crop up. If last Summer is any guide, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to sweat myself to death between May and September.
General fitness goals:
- Dedicate a day for stretching/ yoga. Okay, this one is pretty easy to do since I love both, it’s just finding the time to do them.
- Dedicate two days a week to strength training. Again, easy to do, just hard to find the time to have two days a week every week. But I want my core and lower body nice and strong.
- Cut out the sugar and salt. Well, Dr Oz and the government will be very happy to hear about that. I’ve cut both of them way down in the past year, so cutting them out will be much easier than a year ago when I was sucking down coffee and salt and sugar as much as possible just to get through the day.
Oh, man- that’s a lot of work to do. But I have an entire year to get this done, so I have plenty of time to get this done. And I’ll look and feel even better than I do now (if that’s even possible), so that’s a great payoff.
So, do any of you have some advice or pieces of wisdom for running my first marathon?