Top 11 Things I Learned During Cowbell 26.2 Training

11.  The chafing is REAL.  And it happens in unexpected places.  I was not surprised to get a little chafing on the inside of my upper thighs.  From previous training, I even knew to expect a little at the insides of my arms where they rubbed my chest wall.  The chafing where my heart rate monitor sits is understandable. But the one that I just don’t get is on my back where my hydration belt sits, not really moving, over my clothes.  And that is always that one that, as soon as I step into the shower or sit down in the bathtub, screams out, “GOTCHA!!!!!”

10.  Wear the sports bra!  (Warning—personal information coming up).  I am no Dolly Parton, not by a LONG shot. I have never really seen the need for sports bras.  They can be more difficult to take off if you are sweaty and seem like they make you hotter. However, even for those of us that are bust-challenged, more support is definitely more comfortable after about mile 5.  And did you read #11 above? Regular bras definitely add to that one as well.

9.  Your children, regardless of age, are probably capable of more than you think around the house.  So if you have a long run and will be gone when your tweens wake up for breakfast I guarantee they will find something to eat.  And mine are old enough that I sometimes just left a recipe on the counter and let them figure it out. No one starved. Except me, as I was out running (see also #4).  

8.   Do not underestimate the importance of sleep or the power of heat.  Invariably, when it was really hot out, and I had a bad run, I would try to figure out why.  Then, later in the day, the posts would start—EVERYONE had a run that was not what they wanted.  Someone actually posted a chart about the effects of temperature on workout by degrees. With my job, sleep can be as unpredictable as St. Louis weather.  And I often noticed the same crummy effect on my workouts if I was up all night working. But once again, during this process, Sam posted something about sleep!

7.   Vegetables are not always your friend.  Sure, they are healthy, full of vitamins and minerals and great for clean eating.  You can have them raw, steamed, grilled, seasoned any way you like them. And many of them are a great source of fiber, which is very important to good functioning of your digestive system.  And therein lies the problem. Enough said.

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6.  Variety is the spice of life.  This is true with respect to your nutrition, as you can only eat so many black cherry Bloks before you hate them.  It is true with respect to your hydration (can you say Watermelon?!?! Just like a jolly rancher!). And it is certainly true of running routes.  When I was struggling at one point with whether I could actually do this, a very wise runner told me to go different places for my long run. I thought knowing what was coming was a great idea.  Boy, was I off base on that one. New routes made it more interesting and therefore easier.

5.   Use the power of being on a team (or at least of having friends in “the lifestyle”)!  With a month to go I was struggling a LOT. I posted on the Evolve Facebook page and within hours had several responses that helped me out.  People shared their stories and suggestions. And, after that I had several others checking in on me to see how training was going and wishing me luck.  The day before the marathon I had texts and Facebook messages from a lot of Evolve folks as well as others I have met on this journey. It made a huge difference.

4.   Grocery shopping after a long run is a crapshoot.  Even after eating something, there is still a weakening of the defenses.  Delicious salty chips? Absolutely! That wonderful carbonated drink? It is like something from Alice in Wonderland with a “Drink Me” sign.  Your children will pick up on this quickly and want to accompany you. They know that now is the chance to put ice cream and cookies and who knows what else in the cart, as you will either not notice, not care, or say, “That looks really good.  Go get another pack of that.”

3.  Don’t panic when the unexpected happens.  And in the long process of training, it will.  Kids get sick, work projects pop up, you get injured.  Adapt, adjust and keep a positive attitude. I told my family in the 2 weeks before the race I was going to be selfish, and that there would be food in the house, and I would get them to scheduled activities, but nothing extra.  Then there was a homecoming dress crisis, a student started a rotation in my office (yes, I knew about that one but kind of forgot), a car that completely died 6 days before the race requiring trips to car dealers and purchasing a vehicle, and a baby to deliver at 1 in the morning the day of the race.  When the car broke down, I almost lost it, but that would not have fixed anything. And so you adjust and move on.

2.   Have a partner in crime!  Finding someone else with my same brand of crazy made all the difference. We didn’t always run together, but we always checked in with each other, gave support on our bad days (which luckily rarely coincided), and sure as heck pushed each other along on race day.  I was fortunate to find someone I enjoy running with who happens to be well paced to me. This may not work for everyone, but it was a huge benefit to me!

1.   Never say never.  I said I would never do a marathon.  I said there was no way I was going to finish.  I said there was no way I could keep up with the training.  Of course, after I finished, I did say I was never doing another one…hmmmmmm.

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