Marine Corps Marathon training blog


Marine Corps Marathon training blog Live

A WTOP staffer chronicles her journey as she trains for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.


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  • Return of the ‘run-mute’

    Taking off from WTOP for a run-mute home. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)
    Getting tired of the same old run? It’s easy to do. I find that sometimes I can’t will myself to get out and run when I’m growing weary of my same old routes, or watching the same old shows when I take it to the treadmill.
    That’s why I decided to change things up this week and run commute, or “run-mute” as people (OK, maybe just me) call it. I live a few miles from the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center, so on Tuesday, I packed my running clothes, took public transit to work and then opted for a run commute home.
    There are some major perks with my return run-mute: I’m traversing the city when the weather has cooled off and forcing myself to run a fixed distance. Beyond that, it’s good for the environment!
    There are some crummy aspects. It takes some planning. Also, putting my run off until later in the day leaves me ruminating about my looming run: did I have too much coffee before this run? Did I eat enough? Did I eat too much? Where can I stretch? What if my coworkers see me running and I need to pick a wedgie? What if it rains? What if it’s still too hot out? What if it gets too dark?
    (For what it’s worth, these are pretty baseless fears. It’s just a normal run and I need to get out of my head.) Still, here are tips to have a good run-mute:
    • Remember to bring all your clothes/running needs. You don’t want to run to work, only to realize you don’t have pants. Or on a return commute, realize you don’t have your running shoes. Hobbling home in heels doesn’t sound like a good run to me.
    • Anticipate the smell factor. Let's face it, running to work can come with stinky consequences. I'd recommend not running to work if you don't have a shower. If you choose to do so anyway, there are waterless shampoos and body washes that can help remedy the situation. Tolerant coworkers help.
    • Bring extra food. On run-mute days, bringing extra snacks is crucial and I try to get them in about an hour before I plan to run home. Every runner is different, but I can’t run on an empty stomach, and I’m even less productive if I’m hungry – which is often the case when I’m finishing up my day.
    • Plan and organize what you need and when. If you're running to work, try bringing your clothes for the week to the office, or at least the day before, so you're not forced to haul your work clothes with you while you run. When I run-mute home, I Metro with my running gear, change at the office and stuff my work clothes and other belongings into lockers we have in the newsroom -- then I retrieve it all the next day. Also, I pack light on those days to make sure I'm not leaving too much behind at the office.
    • Be a safe runner. If you're running when it's dark, make sure you're equipped with reflective materials, headlamps, bright clothes, etc. Running with a buddy on well-lit streets is wise, too. I have a clipable reflective, blinking light I got at a sporting goods store for a few dollars that works well for me.
    • Make adjustments. Commute too long to run-mute? Try taking public transit part of the way and running the rest.
    Run commutes can be a great way to feel energized in the morning, or help clear your head in the evenings. Do you run-mute? Share what helps your run-mute.
  • Choosing a training plan

    A peek at my marathon schedule and the planning process. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)
    Going out to run may seem easy enough, but stringing together runs to form an effective training plan that sufficiently prepares a runner for a race is something totally different.
    You don’t want a plan that burns you out too soon, induces injury or doesn’t jive with your life. Or worse -- a plan that doesn’t prepare you to finish 26.2 miles. Training plan fears are real, and I have certainly experienced all of these concerns. So how am I navigating through this murky marathon-training period?
    I’ve trained too hard and hurt myself. I’ve trained too little and been upset with my performance. I’ve trained without leniency to the plan and done OK. I’ve skipped runs and done fine. All of this to say, there is no perfect science when it comes to training for a race.
    This time around, as well as with other marathons, I’m making tweaks to a plan that has worked for me -- Olympian Jeff Galloway’s training plan for the Walt Disney World marathon. The Disney race was my first marathon and the training plan worked so well, I have continued to apply it to future races.


    It has variations based on if you’re a beginner, want to “finish in the upright position” or improve your time. Also, it has the breakdown of what to do during the weekdays and how far to run on weekends, contains information about Galloway’s famous run-walk plan and details overall running strategies. And it’s free – I learned quickly that is a big bonus. As I searched for other training plans, I realized I wasn’t willing to cough up the dough to peep a plan I didn’t know would work any better.



    It’s tailored for Disney races, so it lists the specific dates relative to the upcoming Disney race, leaving me backtracking through my calendar to plan. Also, sometimes I’m not a fan of the run-walk plan, so I don’t care for scheduling those runs.
    So my plan is some combination of the Galloway schedule mixed with a little bit of speed work.
    I do long runs on Saturdays mainly. During the work week, I run about 30 minutes two times during the work week, usually Tuesday and Thursday. And I do other cardio on Monday and Wednesday – swimming, elliptical, biking, rowing  or cardio classes.
    Fridays and Sundays are my days off. Like always. No exercise. Ever. A fast-paced job compounded with five days of working out can really wear a girl out! Rest days are extremely important to incorporate in a training plan. I’d argue as important as running days.
    I’m a few weeks into my training plan this time around, and so far it’s working out OK!
    Do you have a training plan? Let me know what works for you!
  • Let the training begin

    It’s 6 a.m. on a Saturday and, instead of cherishing the day I have to sleep in, I’m up, bleary-eyed, devouring toast and coffee, stretching my haggard hamstrings and trying to chart how I’m going to spend the next 90 minutes or so of the morning. 
    It’s a regimen many people may embrace as part of training for a marathon. For me, it’s the Marine Corps Marathon, and although the race is in October, I find myself up with the sun in June to log miles before the day’s 80-degree temperatures set in.
    I’m no elite runner. But I will say that running is my hobby of choice. 
    A little bit about me as a runner: I’ve been running distance since I was about 12 years old and ran cross country and track through high school. After that, I was a recreational runner, putting in miles when I wanted and competing in 5K or 10K races ever year or so. I ran my first half marathon in 2012, and I was hooked on longer-distance races after that. Since then, I’ve competed in about 15 half marathons and four marathons.
    However, no matter how many races you finish, training never gets much easier. It’s still tough for me to get up early and run. It’s a learning experience every time when it comes the types of foods to eat and the shoes to wear. I may have been through this song and dance before, but I’m always learning more and more about who I am as a runner and what my body is capable of.
    So follow along as I prepare for the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon. I’ll be chronicling my training runs, documenting my obstacles, passing on any advice I have and seeking answers to my own quandaries.
    And feel free to comment with your own questions, advice or words of encouragement – it may be just the push I need to get out of bed for those Saturday morning long runs.
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