Marathon Training Secrets
Running Mom and First Time Marathoner

Interview with Bethany

Marathon training secrets, Bethany shares with us how she made the time and had the energy to train for her first marathon while going to school and being a full time mom.

Marathon Training Secrets

Check out Bethany's blog for more of her marathon training secrets.

How long have you been running?

I have been running for about six years.

What got you into running?

I started when I was in the military. When I first joined, I could barely run a mile. I built up gradually, but I struggled, and I hated it. I was always the slow one. I was the girl who always failed her run on her physical fitness test. I hated the stigma that always seemed to follow me around.

I got out of the army when I found out I was pregnant, and I didn’t run for nine months. After I had my son Max (aka the Moose), I decided that running was going to be the fastest way to drop the baby weight.

I started running, and realized that I had no one yelling, no one pushing, no one making me feel like a piece of crap for being slow. I suddenly realized that I LIKED to run, that it was a time for me to be alone with my thoughts and to get away from my newborn for a little bit so that I could be a better mom.

So this year you ran your first half marathon AND your first marathon...with a one year old, is that right?

Yes! Moose was one when I ran my first half (on his birthday!) and he was 15 months when I ran my first marathon.

So tell us some of your marathon training secrets. How did you manage to get your training in?

I couldn't have done it without my husband Mike. He was always willing to watch the Moose for me so I could get in my runs. It's a big time commitment, so I am very grateful that he was supportive. He and Moose are my number one fans and they are always there at all my races.

Do you push the Moose in a jogging stroller during your runs?

Sometimes...I have to admit that I don't really like to run with a jogging stroller, but I do it when I have no other options and no one else to watch him. Maybe eventually I'll start doing it more.

How do you find the energy to run?

I have no idea. Some days I have it and some days I don't.

What marathon training secrets do you use for inspiration on those days or weeks when you’re just not feeling it?

I just put one foot in front of the other. Not to mention one of my biggest fears is becoming the fat mom. You know what I'm talking about, right? The mom who talks about losing the "baby weight" and the "baby" is twelve.

Nothing like envisioning yourself as a fat lump on a porch yelling at your kids to get your butt out the door! I want to be the hot mom!

What would you say to someone who is training for their first half marathon or marathon? Is it worth it?

It is totally, 100 percent worth it. I can't stress it enough. Even though it was hard, even though I was exhausted, and even though some days I hated every step, the feeling of finishing that first half marathon, and then my first marathon...made up for all of those bad days.

Now, when I go out to run three miles, I run three miles. When I decide to run five miles, I run five miles. Whatever I decide to do, I do it.

I've been playing with the idea of becoming a vegetarian for years...but I never was able to commit to it fully. After the marathon, I made the decision to commit. It hasn’t been easy, but I feel confident that I can stick to it.

Completing the marathon just doesn't help you in your running; it helps you in all aspects of your life. I know a lot of people say that, but it's because it's true.

You get this inner confidence after running a marathon...because you know yourself, and you know now what you are truly capable of committing to. It's an amazing feeling, and one I don't ever want to lose.

How would you be different from your coach in helping someone train for their first marathon, what marathon training secrets would you give them?

My marathon clinic instructor was a good person. He said something that seemed to me like he was sort of "poo-pooing" my efforts, like I was too slow, and that walking was not something to be proud of.

But after I wrote him an e-mail defending myself, he clarified that he had really been concerned about the fact that I was dealing with burnout and had addressed it in a clumsy way.

I told him about how I felt about being the only first time marathoner in a clinic full of veterans, how I felt like I didn't belong. He was surprised, he hadn't realized I felt that way. He was sorry that he had only found out about it towards the end of the clinic.
I think what I would do differently to help someone training for their first marathon is listen to them. I would listen to their fears and concerns, and hopefully put some of them at ease.

I would try to stress the importance of focusing on completing the marathon at a pace that is good for them...not the pace that someone else thinks they should be at.

And really, that's not all that different from how my clinic instructor was...he was just sort of clueless that I was feeling how I was feeling, and that was partially my own fault for not speaking up.
I would encourage first timers to talk to marathon veterans and to tell them what's on their minds...don't be afraid to talk about it, because chances are, they've all felt the same way.

What schedule did you use to train for your marathon?

I used the Running Room's marathon training plan.

Do you feel it prepared you well for your marathon?

I would definitely recommend it. I think it was great for a was tough, but it was also gradually progressed in your mileage as opposed to making huge jumps that you might not have been ready for.

Is there anything you would change on this schedule?

Not a thing. It was great.

Did you stick to this schedule?

I did. I would recommend to other moms who are following a training plan to remember to be flexible. When I trained for the half marathon, I was very rigid about doing exactly what the plan said to do every single day.

When I got to the marathon training, I was much more relaxed. What mattered was the mileage, not necessarily what day you did it. Basically, don't get obsessed with the schedule. Don't be rigid, but don't ignore your training either.

Now, I know you've recently made a change in your diet that you feel strongly about. You want to talk about that?

Sure! I recently became a vegetarian...and I LOVE talking about it!

Why did you make this change?

It's been something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I've always thought it was the healthiest lifestyle...I'm Eastern Orthodox, so I have met monastics who are vegetarian, and they were strong as oxen.

I'd also read a National Geographic article about people who live in Okinawa, Japan, and they are famous for their long and healthy lifespans. Their diet is primarily vegetarian.

But no matter how many times I tried, I couldn't seem to fully commit. I liked meat! Then recently, another running mom, Heather Gannoe, recommended I read the book "Skinny Bitch" . I thought it was just going to be another healthy eating book, but it really preached the advantages of a vegan diet.

There was also a chapter on meat, including testimonies from slaughterhouse workers talking about they had abused animals or seen animals fighting for their lives and screaming in pain.

One quote that particularly hit home was that every time I eat a piece of meat, I am eating someone's fear, grief, and pain. Kind of takes the flavor out of your bacon when you look at it that way. So I gave up meat for good.

How do you feel since you became a vegetarian?

I feel amazing. I also cut back caffeine, which has probably helped. I feel healthier than I have ever felt in my life.

How does being a vegetarian seem to affect your running?

It hasn't affected it negatively, I know that much. I do feel like I have more energy, which always helps any run! A vegetarian diet has a lot of complex carbs, which as any runners knows, is key to successful running!

What about since you went off coffee, a lot of us runners won't go for a run without first having a cup of coffee? How does not drinking coffee affect your running?

Honestly I can't really tell...I never drank coffee before running to begin with, so there really isn't that much of a difference. I just recently fell off the no coffee wagon...everything in moderation, I always say...haha.

What is your next running goal?

The Disney Princess Half Marathon in March 2010. I'm so excited to meet so many of my running mommas! I'm also planning to do Grandma's full marathon in June…but hubby and I are TTC right now, so I'm playing it by ear. Registration doesn't open until January, so I have some time.

What marathon training secrets would you share with running moms who are not fast, but manage to get out there and run while being moms, students and having a million other life obligations?

I would say GOOD FOR YOU!!! And KEEP IT UP!!! Making time for yourself when you are a mom is so important...running is such a great way to get away from it all for a little while and get your sanity back.

My mom calls it "running away from home"...but of course, we don't run away forever, just long enough to finish our run and to come back ready to be the best momma we can be.

So keep can do anything you set your mind to do…even if it's just getting out there to run for 20 minutes. Do what you can, and don't beat yourself up if you can't. Just keep running and take care of you!

More Marathon Training Secrets

Wendy's Marathon Training Secret...the Run/Walk

Crystal's Marathon Training Secrets to Running While Pregnant

Kari's Marathon Training Secret: Don't Forget About Strength Training

Anna's Top Marathon Training Secret #1: Prevent Injury

Anna's Top Marathon Training Secret #2: Prevent Chafing

Anna's Top Marathon Training Secret #3: Runners Diet

More Running and Marathon Training Secrets for the Beginning Runner


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