Training for my first marathon continues. So far, so good. I did 21 miles last Saturday and am now in the final “taper” period where mileage decreases for the next three weeks before the big event. Now with a 20+ mile run under by belt I feel that I am ready. It’s been quite an accomplishment just to get to this point.
When I did my first 10 weeks of base training I just used the “equipment” I already had (cotton t-shirts, cotton shorts and cross-training sneakers) not wanting to make an investment in it until I was sure I would stick with it. The most cutting edge thing I used was my cell phone with a built-in pedometer and fitness application for tracking time and distance, though, it was not always 100% accurate.
It just so happened that my birthday was around the transition from my 10 week pre-training to my 18 week marathon training program. I used it as the opportunity for an upgrade in just about everything. It has really made a difference to have proper clothing and running shoes.
The most extravagant thing that I asked for and received was a Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS watch. This helps feed my inner geek. I was previously entering and tracking my progress in a spreadsheet. Now my data is wirelessly transferred from my watch to my laptop after each run. A fitness application calculates distance run, average pace, average heart rate and so on. It also plots my route on its built-in map as well as into Google Earth.
GPS may seem like overkill but, for me, it helps with motivation. Part of keeping motivated is varying the routes that I run in order to avoid monotony. Now I have the precise mileage I have run right on my wrist at all times and can run with confidence on routes I have never run before and can make adjustments so I won’t finish with too much or too little mileage for the day. It also helps later to look at the maps of where I have run in order to plan out more routes as extensions of those. This is especially true since I do most of my running off of public roads on trails where using a traditional map for planning is difficult.