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The Road to 26.2 Miles - And So It Begins…

marathon training in sub zero weather

Here I am.... standing outside, first thing in the morning, in the bitter cold (and I mean 30 below zero kind of cold). I’m about to go for a 6 mile run. It’s the first ‘long run’ of the next 16 weeks of full marathon training that I’m about to embark on. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Sarah, a born and raised Canadian prairie girl and I have decided that 2015 will mark my fourth full marathon! The three I have done prior to this one (which will take place May 2015 in Fargo, North Dakota) were in 2009, 2011 and 2012. In 2009, I started my marathon journey by taking the first step and signing up for a Running Room clinic. It was totally out of my comfort zone and I had never run any more than 13 miles (with great difficulty). Looking back, it is now the first thing I recommend to anyone looking to start training for his or her first full marathon. It’s a support group with people who are just as crazy as you. Trust me, on days like today where I’m wearing four layers, two pairs of mitts, Vaseline on my face to prevent frostbite and wool socks to stay warm during winter running, being with a group becomes that much more valuable. When you are done your run you also have someone to pose with for your “I’m THAT kind of crazy” frozen picture (that’s me on the right in the above picture and my running pal Fernie on the left). Yes - there is icicles hanging off my eyelids. marathon finish lineIn 2009, I finished my first full marathon in 4 hours and 58 minutes (left). I wasn’t breaking any records and I practically crawled across the finish. Everything hurt. It also happened to be the hottest Manitoba, Canada marathon on record. They had closed the course at mile 21 and were picking people up on a bus; thank goodness I was passed the cut off and was able to finish. 2009 taught me a thing or two about training, nutrition, proper sleep and where I wanted to be as a runner. I didn’t want to “just finish” marathons, I wanted to be the best version of my running self as possible. So two years later when I laced up for the 2011 Manitoba Marathon I was ready to do this again (and 25lbs lighter as well). I had cleaned up my nutrition, incorporating lean proteins, post workout shakes and leafy greens into my diet, and incorporated weights into my off days of running. I finished in 4 hours and 3 minutes, 55 minutes faster than my first and I crossed that finish line all group marathon Being the perfectionist that I was, I wanted less than 4 hours. I immediately began to research my next race. I heard that the Fargo Marathon was a great run – lots of fans come out and cheer you on, there’s a band playing at every mile, and you get to finish in the stadium seeing yourself on the jumbotron. I was sold! I followed a tight 16-week training program, kept my eating clean, made sure I was fully hydrated each and every day (not just during long runs) and got at least 8 hours of sleep. I sacrificed going out with friends so that I could get up at 7am and do 18-mile runs even in whatever Mother Nature had in store for us. When I crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 58 minutes, it was all worth it. It was the happiest “happy tears” I have ever had in my life (below).finish line Now I’m onto bigger goals. 3 hours and 35 minutes is the Boston qualifying standard for my age group. That’s what I’ve got my sights on. It’s 23 minutes faster than I have ever run a full before, but I’m a firm believer in setting big goals and doing everything you can to make them happen! So here I am… Sharing my ‘road to 26.2’ with all of you. I have learned a few things along the way (great recipes, how to stay fully hydrated, an awesome training schedule and gadgets I can’t live without, just to name a few things). For the next 16 weeks I’ll share all of those things with you. For all of you working up towards a big goal, whether it is a race time, or another fitness level you’re looking to achieve, I encourage you to leave a comment below and share with us. We’d love to send* you some Ultima Replenisher to fuel your journey (we may just throw in a water bottle too). Until next run update, just remember this… “When you feel like you want to quit, think about why you started!” Good luck out there everyone. Happy trails! -Sarah *Offer expires March 31, 2015