Hey guys! Taking a break from Christmas posts today to talk about the BMW Dallas Marathon I ran a few weeks ago! Most of you followed along with my training over the last 4 months and I can’t even tell you how much you’re encouragement and support meant to me throughout that time. There were several times throughout my training where I thought “maybe I should switch to the half, and not do the full” (I have done several half marathons, but this was my first full), but having my instagram fam as accountability and support pushed me to keep training for the full.
I got hundreds of DM’s the day of the marathon asking SO many questions. So, today I want to recap my experience on race day and share some tips, as well as how I prepared for the marathon the week leading up to it. Before I share those tips though…I’ve done a full blog post on marathon training, answering ANY question you could have related to running: my training plan, running shoes, music, etc. So please check that out for all of those types of questions!
The Week of the Marathon: tips to prepare
So I’ll be honest. My nerves were at an all time high the week leading up to the marathon. I knew I trained well (literally followed my training plan EXACTLY), but I was still so nervous about race day. What if I get injured? What if I have to walk? What if I can’t finish? Etc. So, from what I’ve heard…nerves are completely normal. To battle the nerves, I prayed for peace, and asked for other people to pray the Lord would give me peace. I also just had to do ‘mind over matter’, and remind myself that I had prepared for this, and I was ready. A lot of mind games went on to get myself to chill haha.
As far as the physical preparation: I ate really clean all week. No alcohol, alot of water, no dessert (which was legit killer for me haha). I ate a lot of protein and a lot of good carbs (quinoa, sweet potato, whole wheat pasta, etc). It’s also important to get as much rest as possible that week. Personally I really struggle with sleeping, but I forced myself to get in bed by 10 every night to get as much sleep as possible.
As far as running goes the week of – follow whatever your training plan tells you to do (the training plan I followed is in the above blog post that I linked). I think I ran anywhere from 3-5 miles 4ish times the week of the race. Not a lot.
NOW let’s talk about the prep starting 2 days before the race.
Everyone thinks you need to majorly carb load the night before a race, which isn’t necessarily true. For a marathon, you need to carb load two nights before the race, and then have a normal amount of carbs the night before the race. Don’t overstuff yourself the night before. So – two days before the race, for dinner I had a lot of whole wheat bread with my dinner, plus fish and veggies. That’s not the most ideal carb-loading meal, but we were traveling ha. The night before the race we went to HG Sply in Dallas and I had chicken, sweet potatoes, and brussel sprouts with guacamole on top – a large bowl of this!
Your meals throughout those two days leading up to the race are equally as important as dinner – two days before the race make sure you’re getting in those carbs! You will need them for energy during the race.
I’ve heard from several running coaches and marathoners that your most important night’s sleep is actually two nights before the race. So, don’t stay out late either one of those nights! Chances are you won’t be able to sleep very well the night before the race (I know I didn’t), but I’ve heard that the most important night’s sleep is two nights before.
Day of the marathon
What I wore: It was actually really cold in Dallas that weekend, so I started the race with the jacket I linked at the top of this post. Underneath I wore a tank and shorts from Lululemon (my favorite running shorts are the ‘hotty hot shorts’ from lulu!). I ran in the ASICS Gel Kayano’s. I run with these wireless headphones and my apple watch series 3 (not the cellular version. See this post for my apple watch review).
For the day of the race: do not change a single thing from what you did in training. Don’t try a new pair of shoes or new headphones or armband for your phone or a new gu for during the race. Try out all of those things BEFORE race day.
Before the race – I took my normal Advocare supplements. I drank spark and rehydrate 15mins before the race started, and took O2 gold 30 minutes before the race started. I ate a banana and almond butter before the race (again, this is the exact same thing I did during training).
On my long runs during training, I fueled about every 6 or 7 miles. Every runner is different – some people need nutrition every 5 miles, some people don’t eat anything when they run. Every 7 miles during the marathon, I either had this rehydrate gel or these energy chew bloks. I didn’t really drink any water until about mile 6, and then I had a sip or two of water every 3ish miles.
Tips for the actual running part
As soon as you cross the start line, your adrenaline will be pumping and you’ll want to run at a super fast pace. You will feel REALLY good for the first 10-13 miles. Do not let yourself speed up with that adrenaline rush or you will burn out before the race is over (probably around mile 17). Save your energy. Several of my friends who have done several marathons gave me the advice “make your second half of the race better than the first”, and this advice was key for me.
I honestly never really ‘hit a wall’ or felt burnt out throughout the entire race. I never had to stop and walk. And that’s because I didn’t let my adrenaline get the best of me and go way too fast. I knew during my long runs during training, my avg pace was around 9:40 (for any run that was 16 miles or longer. for anything between 13-16 miles, I usually averaged about 9:15’s, for any run less than 13 I avg about 8:50’s), so that’s what I wanted to stay at throughout the entire marathon (looking back, I feel like I could’ve done it faster but I didn’t want to push it, and I’m glad I didn’t). Honestly, this was so hard for the first 10 miles of the race because I WANTED to go faster. But, forcing myself to keep that pace made the race so incredibly enjoyable and injury free for me. Keeping this pace also allowed me to ‘bolt’ or ’empty the tank’ at the end of the race and pick up my pace a little bit.
Another thing that helped me throughout the marathon (and on my long runs during training) is having a mantra. I know this might sound cheesy, but running is such a mental sport in my opinion. My mantra slash prayer throughout training was “Lord, keep my heart pumping, my lungs breathing and my legs moving. All for your glory”. And then my sister’s mantra for her marathon a few years ago was “strong and steady”. So, I told myself both of those things as I was running the marathon. When I was on mile 10 feeling really great and like I wanted to speed up, I would say “strong and steady lauren”. When I was at mile 24 and felt like my legs wouldn’t keep moving, I would pray that prayer above, or I would say ‘strong and steady, you can do this’. I think coming up with a mantra for your training is so important and so powerful. I have tears in my eyes just thinking back to those moments during the race, and during my long solo runs solo during training.
these two pics were taken right before crossing the finish line!
Something else that made all the difference in the world on race day was having my friends and family there. I convinced Michael to run the first half of the marathon with me (because he’s superhuman and can just run a half with hardly any training), and it was so nice to have him for the first half. My family also came and planted themselves at different mile markers, so I knew I could look for my parents at mile 18 or my siblings at mile 20. This helped SO much. My sweet friend Kami also hopped in with me at mile 20 and ran a mile with me, which really helped me avoid hitting that 20 mile wall.
Honestly y’all…the race went better than I ever could have dreamed. I was so worried about getting injured or having to stop and walk or something awful happening. And none of that happened. I felt strong and so joyful throughout the whole race, and I pray I get to do another one someday. I know that’s not everyone’s marathon experience, but I feel truly grateful that it was mine.
(the pic above was taken seconds after i crossed the finish line, hence the tears!)
Alot of you have asked me if I’ve always been a runner. I started running long distance consistently about 8 years ago. I’ve known since then that I actually love to run. I find so much joy in it, I connect with Jesus in it, and I think it’s a blast. The marathon confirmed that passion for me, and took it to another level. Words can never express the feeling I got when I caught my first glimpse of the finish line and knew what my body had just accomplished. The entire race was truly the most amazing, empowering, and freeing experience and I hope for many more marathons in my future!
Post marathon life
michael snapped this pic on his phone right before i crossed the finish line
Marathon training takes an insane toll on your body. While I absolutely loved it, it was without a doubt the most challenging thing I’ve ever done (both the race, and the training). The time commitment, the mileage, the pounding on the pavement, your joints, your muscles, what you can and can’t eat, etc. So, while I hope to do another marathon in the future, I’m definitely taking a break from crazy long distance running right now. I’m still working out about 5 days a week and definitely still running. But I’ve incorporated more weight training and other forms of cardio into my workouts now that the race is over.
Holy cow, this might get the award for my longest post ever haha. Obviously running + marathons are something I’m super passionate about! So, I hope you found this helpful! Please know though that every runner is different. These are things that helped me throughout training and on race day but this is unique to me, and not necessarily true for every single runner! You have to find what works best for you!
Thanks for reading, and again for all of y’alls support, encouragement, and advice throughout my training! So thankful for this community we have created here!