Monday, October 10, 2011

Marathon Training Is A Lot Like Baking A Cake

I know this might seem like quite a stretch, but this weekend as I was making funfetti cupcakes with some kiddos, I came to the realization that training for a marathon is a lot like baking a cake!

If you are anything like me, you rely on Pillsbury when making a cake...He provides the bulk of the cake, and step-by-step, foolproof instructions to make it. When I am preparing for a race I normally head straight to for my training plan, but for my marathon I referred to Run Less, Run Faster {which for me actually meant run more, run faster}. Run Less, Run Faster training plans are made up of speed work, tempo runs, and long, slow runs {times for each are determined by your  fastest 5-k or 1/2 marathon time}

Just buying the box, or writing out a training plan, doesn't ensure a successful outcome.  While baking a cake requires eggs, oil and water; training for a marathon requires mental toughness, commitment to training, supportive running partner, family & friends, early morning wake up calls, the right shoes, clothing & undergarments, fuel for the run, proper nutrition, and lots & lots of water!  When baking a cake, once all of the ingredients are mixed together, I can't resist trying the batter, and having a little taste of what the final product will taste like.  Throughout my training, I had several "tastes of victory" {finishing a 20 mile run & getting a 7 min PR in a half marathon to name a few} that got me excited for the final product...crossing the finish line.  

The Necessities

After all of the necessary ingredients have been mixed together, they need to bake in hours of dedication, commitment and training.


Once the cake has baked {or the training plan has been completed} it is really important to let the cake cool completely {taper} before applying the frosting.  It's necessary to let  the cake cool completely, or when you go to frost it the cake will collapse, fall apart, and the frosting will melt.  I learned this past weekend, that the cooling {or tapering} might be the most difficult part of making a cake.  McKenna asked me every other minute if it was time to frost the cupcakes yet...and I kept telling her we needed to wait until they completely cooled.  The taper has presented some struggles for me too...Our first run of the taper was a 12 mile run, which I approached with the mentality of "Oh, this is only 12 miles, I've got it" {It seemed relatively short after 20, 18 and 17 miles}.  That run ended up being one of the most difficult runs of the training...both mentally and physically! Now that we are down to a few 400s and a 3 mile run...I find myself questioning if I am really prepared?? Or should I get in another run??  I keep reminding myself, just as I did McKenna, that tapering is a necessary part of the training plan.


Once the cake has cooled, it is time to add the frosting.  For me, my frosting will come as I cross the finish line of my first marathon, and am frosted with a Tiffany's Necklace.  Although I am excited to receive a blue box from a fireman in a tuxedo {I mean really, who couldn't run 26.2 miles for that??}, I am really looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment when I turn the corner, see the finish line & and my parents there cheering me on.   I am an emotional athlete, and am always overcome with an overwhelming  feeling of accomplishment when I finish a race, which almost always results in tears of joy!

All the hard work has been done...Sunday will be my chance to celebrate the hours of training, and miles & miles of running that have been put in.  My emotions are all over the board this week...excited, scared, doubtful, confident, anxious, disbelief, etc.  But the one think I know for sure, I WILL cross the finish line and will officially be a marathon this Sunday! 

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