This Is The Part In My Training Where I Freak Out About My Marathon and Triathlon Like A Scared Child

July 11, 2013

Running My First Marathon

I think everyone goes through a time with any audacious goal, where they suddenly lose that initial bravado which comes with announcing a stupid big goal, and get down to brass tacks in what they have yet to do.  If freaking out is a normal part of preparing for a marathon, well, here I am.

I totally loved Fitbloggin’ friends-  many are training for their very first marathon this year and all seem to be tackling it with finesse and a solid training plan.  I have done 7 half marathons this year and while I can handle (read: survive) 13.1, I have attempted to train for 26.2.  I’ve been using a paper plan I found in Runner’s World magazine, but I’m trembling in my Mizunos as to whether I can tackle this goal.

I’m doing most of my long runs at actual races this year.  Every other weekend I seem to have a half marathon to run- I’ll be running three Rock N Roll Half Marathons, a Women’s Running Half in Nashville, and the Chicago Half Marathon as we wind into fall…oh then there is the Disneyland Half as well, huzzah!

I have my triathlon sprint in a month and while I’m somewhat (idiotically) confident I could do it by flailing through- I have yet to hit the water and go for an open water swim, or practice transition.  I also need to figure out what one wears for a triathlon without a wetsuit.

Yes, admitting this on my blog is an attempt to nip fear in the butt and ask for help.  I’ve Googled and YouTubed my way around the interwebs to try and sort this stuff out, but there seems to not be enough hours in the day.   I’m also starting to see how my workaholism coincides greatly with marathon training-  I get home after a day of work and skip dinner with my honey to go running.

After about two weeks of heading out for a run at dinner time, I realized that I’d have to choose between sacrificed sleep or sacrificed together-time with my man (and we never get enough time together) so I have chosen the lesser of two “sucks,” and opt for morning runs.

I’ve started waking up at 4:30am so I can get a run or bike in and get acclimated to the process of biking and running… I’m on day 2.  Obviously, I need to practice a bit more before August 11th when I tri for the first time! (I guess I no longer “try,” I “tri.” How clever, I know!)


special idiots run a marathon


So, Here Are My Worries:

-I’m anxious that I’m not doing enough to prepare.

-Should I hire a marathon coach?

-Who has the best tri gear?

-Seriously… should I be scared of a 1/3 mile swim?


Here’s What I’m Doing:

-Embracing that a year ago a half marathon seemed impossible, this is just another step in my athletic goals.

-Sticking to a training plan, getting up early and eating better

-Accepting that even if I have to crawl to the finish, I’ll finish.

-Running lots of awesome races in order to stay motivated and make long runs less boring.

-Asking all of you for advice, wisdom and confidence!


Today I went on my first bike ride EVER- nearly 4 miles (would have done more but had to get to work!)  Getting up at 4:30 and leaving by sunrise is a great way to get acclimated to road biking in a somewhat unsafe city for cyclists (yes Chicago, I’m talking to you!) until can gain confidence on a bike and deal with that annoying wrist pain and hand cramping I get every time I ride (what is with that?!)   I’m going to get out to the lake and do some swimming so I can at least KNOW what it feels like.  While I think I’m stupid for doing a triathlon sprint without months of prep, I know I’m far more productive when I’m on a tight time frame and I have something to focus on.

Additionally, I’m reaching out to some marathon coaches that were recommended to me by a friend- if you know of any good running coaches that can work with a slow runner like myself, please leave me a comment so I can investigate the right coach!

I know I can do this, but I know I need to up my game and ask for help.  I’m lacking confidence in my ability to finish 26.2 and do my first triathlon sprint, but that’s why I’m here- to swallow the fear, be honest and then tackle forward to make sure I don’t shy away from this goal in secret.


So, do you have any advice for me?
How did you overcome a fitness goal when you lacked confidence?

16 comments so far.

16 responses to “This Is The Part In My Training Where I Freak Out About My Marathon and Triathlon Like A Scared Child”

  1. Emily T says:

    I think that the most important goal for you marathon is to just finish. If you take it slow, and walk through the water stations, you will do so well. You obviously have a great work ethic. I read The Lady Okie’s blog, and she blogged quite a bit about her marathon training. She has a lot of helpful tips. We’re all rooting for you!


  2. @AprilFin says:

    You’ll be fine – 1/3 mile swim (assuming you’ve done a few laps in the pool) will pass quickly if you’re in shape enough to run halfs.

    As for tri gear, for a sprint, I would suggest you invest in a tri bottom – it’s basically bike shorts with a thinner chamois. They dry more quickly than bike shorts, and provide more coverage (and cushion) than a swimsuit bottom. I wear tri shorts (try Zoot or Tyr), and a racerback sports bra for the swim, then quickly throw on a bike jersey for the bike/run part. It helps to pre-load your snacks/gels in the back pockets. Good luck!

  3. Mary says:

    A 1/3 mile swim is totally do-able, but you should try and get some practice in open water. When I did my first sprint tri I only trained in a pool, and I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be when I hit those waves! As far as outfit- I recommend the following:
    -Elastic shoe laces so you can slip your shoes on quickly
    -Swim in tri shorts and a good sports bra (not white)
    -A bike jersey to throw on when you get to your bike
    I had tons of fun doing sprint tris, it’s my favorite event to train for. Have fun and good luck!

  4. Courtney says:

    I’d love to read about your experiences if you hire a marathon coach. I’m training for my first marathon on my own but have thought about maybe getting a coach (my race is in November). It seems like every runner with a blog is a “coach” so I’d be super hesitant to even pick someone. I think getting recommendations from friends like you are doing is the way to go!

  5. Brent says:

    Runner’s World programs are solid (though can you link to it, so we can see?), if you just hit the days, you’ll be fine. I used Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 program, and it was exactly what I needed to get me across the line for the first time (liked it so much, I’m using it again to prep for Chicago in October). No reason to hire a coach for a first marathon, the training program and online resources are more than enough.

    I didn’t believe this when I was told, but it’s true: the only difference between completing the half and the full is the training. The anxiety of “can I do an 18-miler?” is oddly motivating when you get deep into your training program. But if you can run 13, then you can run 14 and then 15 and then… well, you get the idea.

    I’m not going to say “good luck,” because running a marathon has nothing to do with luck. It’s just putting in the miles.

  6. As for the marathon, break it into chunks in your mind. If you can run 13.1, you can run it twice. It’s hard but you know you can do it. The freaking out is part of the fun — and race day is an awesome experience. Training can suck but marathon day? That’s the golden ticket! You’ve got it! I don’t think you need a marathon coach but I would keep up your mileage and be sure you are getting your tempo runs/mile repeats in. Good luck!

  7. Jen says:

    Try REI if you have one near you — they carry tri gear and it’s nice to be able to try things on and check for fit, scratchiness, etc. Some triathlon brands seem to run small. I have a trisuit, which is a sleeveless top and shorts in one, with a zipper. For my first tri, though, I wore a tankini top with a bra under it and bike shorts. I didn’t like the fact that a part of my midsection showed in the photos, so I switched to the one-piece suit. Some women compete in bathing suits or even bikinis. There are great forums on

  8. Kelsey says:

    Maybe try using biking gloves that have some gel padding in them. Might help with the wrist pain.

  9. Teresa M. says:

    I just ran y first marathon in May, my goal was to just finish, I walked through almost every water station. It took me longer than I would have liked, but now I get to look forward to beating my time. <3

  10. Evelyn says:

    I just completed my first sprint tri June 30th. I was super nervous too, but once it hits race day you’ll be excited. I hav Zoot Tri shorts and a danskin tri top, which I wore in the swim and the rest of the race. Good luck, you’ll love it!

  11. Andy Norman says:

    Your fear sounds more like you’re worried about not passing a class which actually does have serious ramifications if you fail. The goal is to finish but if you don’t, so what? At least you tried.
    Swimming isn’t high impact like running so just hop in a pool and do enough laps till you get to 1/3 of a mile. Then you’ll know how bad is bad. If worse comes to worse and you can’t do it, by being in a pool you just swim to the side and get out. Now you know where to improve
    All marathon programs have 2 rest days and they encourge cross training on those days. Swim one and bike the other.
    I’d only hire a marathon coach if I wanted to get to Boston. Otherwise just follow the plans you see online.

  12. I agree with what others have said: run with a goal of finishing. Don’t have too high of expectations for yourself because the pressure will take the fun out of the training and the race itself. Don’t worry, you’ll do amazing 🙂

  13. Shannon, you’ve got this! Trying a new event is always scary. I have these questions about race distances I’ve done before!

    For the triathlon (my only area of expertise)… if you are a decent swimmer then no, you shouldn’t be scared of a 1/3 mile swim. You should open water swim at least once before the race though. It’s a lot different from the pool. If it is a wave start, as a beginning, position yourself to one side and in the back half of the wave. With lots of people going all at the same time you can get swum over or kicked or elbowed and that seems to mess with new triathletes more than anything. Its worth the extra minute to stay out of the fray a little and get a smooth start.

    There are lots of good tri clothing companies but my favorite is Zoot. I have tri shorts and a tri tank that I wear for the swim and bike. Then if I want to I throw a shirt over the tank for the run and mainly use it to wipe the sweat away 😛 Some people swear by tri suits but i feel more constricted in them.

    That was a lot of information. I get rambly on favorite topics! Good luck and I always love to talk/tweet about triathlons 🙂

  14. carmen says:

    I’m training for my first ever tri this summer too. It’s the Iron girl in Seattle – Aug 18th. I’ve been running 5ks like nobody’s business (just started this spring) and used to bike all the time.

    I’ve had all of the same thoughts like you, what do I wear? Where do I put everything, Open swim is totally different, Do I need a trainer, etc etc?

    Here’s the things I’ve done so far to feel less nervous:
    -signed up for swim class to be more confident face down in the water and work on form, I have a few open swims that I’ll practice do before hand, including one practice open swim in my wetsuit
    -bought a TRI swim suit – the one I got from athleta is a two piece so it fits like a sports bra and tech undies, I plan on layering over pretty simple
    -started riding my bike more
    -some days I double up on training – ie: ran in my running clothes with swim suit under to test out comfort and then went to lap swim

    Things I’ve been told by my Tri coach (I decided to hire one, only to answer all of my questions, help me with open water swim, and how to plan my transitions which I could’ve done on my own but wanted the help)-
    -coach says: people will swim over you and by you and not to worry because girls are too nice and will apologize but that person has already passed you
    -previous years there were “swim angels” and they would help you along the course with a noodle, there is reason to believe that this year its just stationary canoes that you may rest on and then continue when you’re ready
    -biggest tip that I didn’t think about!: once you’re done with a bike ride put your bike away and run back outside for a light run 5-10 minutes to get your leg muscles used to it. They call it a “BRICK” for a reason and this will be the hardest part.

    I really hope some of those things help with things to think about and plan for. Feel free to email me with any more questions or tips maybe you’ve seen and think I haven’t 🙂

    Also, I printed off the athleta tri training plan.


  15. Katie says:

    Ohh I just bought tri shorts from athleta and I love them! Wore them for a sprint tri last weekend and they were great. I think it’s these:
    It is annoying if you can’t try them on, I was able to cause they opened a store near my house. These do run small so if you do decide to get them maybe get a size up. I usually wear a 6-8 and got them in L.

  16. Robbi Wagner says:

    Great post. I have the same insecurities and crazy thoughts too. I’ve often thought about a sprint tri, but never had the actual guts to sign up. I run a bunch of half marathons, and I’m signed up for the Disney Marathon in January, and I am SCARED OUT OF MY WITS! This will only be my second full marathon, and it just renders me a jiggly mess every time I think about running another one. Thanks for your post, loved it!


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