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Training Made the Difference in My First-Ever Marathon

By Patty Schmidt, Runner and Endurance Sports Coaching Client
March 17, 2014
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Patty running at Red Rocks, near Morrison, CO

Finding an answer to the question “How should I run?” sounds like a ridiculous pursuit for a reasonably active adult. But I wasn’t always a reasonably active adult, or even an active teen. I started running in December 2011. And crazily enough, soon after, I joined some friends for various road races and got hoodwinked into the 2012 Grandma’s Half-Marathon. Shockingly, I did well for a relative beginner, even the half-marathon!

As I headed into 2013, I realized that I was hooked on running, and had a growing love of cycling too. I joined the YWCA that January and immediately started taking advantage of some of the Endurance Sports classes and workshops, including High Intensity Water Running and T2. These were great and really increased my interest and winter stamina, but didn’t actually help me understand how to become a better, smarter or safer runner. To help with that, I needed a coach and mentor.

When I signed on for an Endurance Sports package with Nicole in May, I hadn’t yet committed to my goals for Fall 2013 because I was more interested in the long term. I wanted to learn to be a smart runner, to be able to enjoy running and be good at it forever, and to avoid injury as I continue to put on the miles. I had never run track or cross-country or a road race prior to 2012, and I had a lot to learn. Nicole very quickly helped to train me and showed me the importance of training.

We progressed from the basics of pacing and distance and defining a training — and cross-training — cadence. All of a sudden, I was running differently — less during the week, and longer on weekends. Grandma’s Half-Marathon flew by, and it was a personal record. We then added more intervals, and nudged the runs longer. We analyzed my bad behaviors, like starting races way too fast, and adjusted my training and race plans. By midsummer, I committed to a fall marathon, which increased my training to that unimaginable distance. We added race-day nutrition talks and planned the mental preparation leading up to the big race. We tweaked, we talked.

By the time I arrived in downtown Des Moines on marathon morning, I was ready and I was calm. We had discussed everything. I found my pacer and just ran with him every mile to the finish line, exactly as planned. But I know he didn’t get me across the finish line — Nicole and the YWCA did. I am a 45-year-old woman and finished my first marathon in 4:10.

The focus continues to evolve this winter, as we’ve spent more time on strength training and deliberate form work in both running drills and core exercises. The coaching certainly makes me a smarter runner. But the even greater benefit is that it’s making me an even stronger lifelong athlete.