I can’t exactly remember when or why I decided I wanted to put “Run a marathon in a foreign country” as number 3 on my bucket list, but it had been sitting up there near the top since I first typed out that post over two years ago.
I googled “Marathons in Europe” and looked at a long list of options. I wanted it to be in a country I had never been to, a flat course and to be in a beautiful scenery. Geneva was
This year seemed like the moment to do it. My coworker and friend Beth is a runner; she ran the Valencia marathon in November and was a cross country coach at the high school she taught at in the United States. It seemed like a good opportunity to cross it off my list, as I would have a partner and coach to help me through the training process.
Four Month Training Plan: What I Did
The way I trained for this marathon is not a by-the-book training plan created by running professionals. I did a lot of my own research and coupled it with the advice I got from Beth as well as tweaking things so that they would work the best for me and my schedule.
The longest run I had ever completed at this point in my life was about 7 miles, so that was where I started for my long runs. I made a plan to do 1 long run on the weekend and 2-3 shorter runs during the weekdays. I integrated swimming and weight-lifting on the other days. I kept a journal/diary of all the workouts I did, and I thought I’d share it here for anyone who is thinking about running a marathon and wants some training ideas.
|2||5 miles||Chest & Triceps||Back & Biceps||Rest||Run 3 miles, Back & Biceps||Abs||4 miles|
|3||7 miles||Back & Biceps||3 miles||Chest & Triceps||2 miles||Rest||Rest|
|4||9 miles||Yoga||2 miles, chest, triceps & shoulders||2 miles||2 miles||Rest||Rest|
|5||6 miles||Rest||Rest||Back & Biceps||2 miles, chest & triceps||7 miles||Abs & Stretch|
|6||11 miles||Back, biceps & abs||Chest & triceps||4 miles||Rest||Rest||Rest|
|7||6 miles, back & biceps||2 miles, chest triceps & abs||Rest||5 miles||13.1 miles||Back & biceps||Rest|
|8||Rest||2 miles & shoulders||chest & triceps||5 miles||Rest||Rest||Rest|
|9||7 miles||back & biceps||6 miles, chest & triceps||3 miles||15 miles||shoulders||3 miles|
|10||chest & triceps||5.5 miles||3.5 miles||4 miles||5 miles||rest||rest|
|11||17 miles||Back, biceps & abs||chest & triceps||6.5 miles||back & biceps||rest||rest|
|12||rest||5 miles||6.5 miles||Chest & Triceps||2 miles||20 miles||rest|
|13||4.5 miles||back & biceps||rest||rest||10 miles||6.5 miles||rest|
|14||REST||REST||REST||REST||REST||2 miles||6.5 miles|
|15||2 miles||back & biceps||2.5 miles||chest & Triceps||4.5 miles||swim||13.1 miles|
|16||REST||4 miles||Back & Biceps||5 miles||Rest||Rest||8 miles|
|17||2 miles||Yoga||2 miles||REST||REST||REST||MARATHON!!!!|
2 Weeks Before Marathon
The final 2 weeks before the marathon, I stopped all weight training completely. I focused only on bodyweight exercises, stretching and yoga as my additional training to going on runs. I spent a lot of time in the hot tub and sauna at my gym, and also plenty of time with my foam roller. The runs were shorter, and I focused a lot on my nutrition. The week before the marathon is when I really started to increase my carb intake, but focusing on healthy carbs, not just loads of pizza and pasta. I added blanched sweet potatoes and couscous to my salads, overloaded on salads with lots of different vegetables, mixed quinoa into things and ate more oatmeal for breakfast.
The expo was on Saturday and it was well-organized. We picked up all our gear within minutes and shopped around for a bit. There were food trucks and lots of different fun events going on – the junior and kids races were all on Saturday so there were lots of parents and little ones running around. We also went to the grocery store to pick up pre-marathon supplies – peanut butter, protein bars, bananas, salad stuff, bread, cheese and turkey, and a red bull (for me, of course) so that we would have sufficient fuel for before the race.
I didn’t pack anything special for the race, just all the clothes I had done long runs in before and knew I would be comfortable in. I think this is probably a huge rule for running marathons – never try out new stuff on the day of the race. My shoes were well broken in, I knew my headphones wouldn’t irritate me after 20 miles and nothing would chafe or rub the wrong way. I also brought a granola bar and a mini bag of gummy bears in my flip belt. I ate the granola bar at mile 5 and then had 3-5 gummy bears every 2 miles. I took water or gatorade at every opportunity.
One thing I would suggest to prepare before a marathon is a playlist – I plan on doing a post with my playlist embedded in the near future so stay tuned for that 😉
Overall, running the marathon was an incredible experience. The countryside of Geneva, the feeling of runners from all over the world supporting each other and encouraging each other through this long race was an amazing feeling that can’t be replicated anywhere else.