I know what you're thinking—you've got to be deranged to run 26.2 miles. Well, you're not wrong. But after running four half marathons within about a year and a half, I decided it was time to step it up a notch. I felt ready for the next step (pun intended), so last year's new year's resolution was to do something crazy: run a marathon.

As you've probably gathered, last semester was one of my busiest semesters of college. Between classes, work, clubs, and social activities, there was a lot going on. A marathon takes time and effort to train for, and if I can do it, so can you.


Motivation wasn't hard to find since I'm a naturally driven person—nobody was pushing me to go out and run a marathon. In fact, they were telling me not to. But I did give myself a little extra motivation by deciding to fund raise for a cause that is close to my heart through running the marathon. It felt incredible to be helping other people while doing something I loved, and I would definitely recommend doing this if you can.

Picking a Race

Since I live in Indiana, the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon was my obvious choice. As a faster and flatter marathon course, Indy's course has a lot of participants and Boston qualifiers. Although my goal was more of finishing without dying rather than qualifying, it was relieving to see that this would be one of the faster races I could choose.

Training Plan

Now for the actual training. I consulted many different training plans, but ended up attempting to follow one that Garmin offered. I use a Garmin GPS running watch to track my runs and mileage, and running plans for 5Ks, half marathons, and full marathons are a feature offered within the program. I did my best to stick to this plan when I started training in the summer, but once school hit and I got busy, I modified it big time. 

I started out slowly over the summer, running two to three miles the first week, and adding a mile or a half-mile each week depending on how I felt. I would do my long runs on the weekends (when I didn't work) and early in the morning so it wasn't too hot (which is well-worth the sacrifice of getting up early). My shorter runs were spread out throughout the week when I had time before or after work.

At College 

When I went back to school, I was busy from essentially 8 am to 5 pm most days, and 8 am to 8 pm on one day, so finding time to train was difficult. I kept my long runs on the weekends, while during the weekdays I kept it very short, maybe three or four miles tops when I did run. I would only have time to run maybe three days a week, so quality workouts were key. 

I made my longest run an 18-miler, about three weeks before race day. I didn't want to run too much and injure myself or burn myself out, and I felt well-prepared on race day. You should definitely listen to your body during training to make sure you're not overdoing it.

Walking everywhere was another key in my training. The entire time I was training for the marathon, I did not take a bus to class or around campus. Since my house is close to campus, this wasn't too bad; I'd just be walking for 15-30 minutes at a time getting from home to class and around campus. This may not seem like a huge feat, but if your campus is pretty hilly, this actually helps you out by getting some decent cardio in every day.


As a dietetics major, you already know that I'm going to be thinking about nutrition during the months of training. I am generally a pretty healthy eater. Yeah, I ate ice cream and mac 'n' cheese every so often throughout my training, but who doesn't?

For the majority of the training period, I ate super healthily, with a ton of fruits and vegetables in my diet along with whole grains. Since I never ate much meat, I would use complementary proteins to get enough protein into my daily diet. Being properly fueled is essential to running well, and knowing what your body needs is so important. Here's an explanation of how I did it for some half marathons.

Learn From My Mistakes

I had been told by a ton of runners before me to not do anything on race day that I hadn't done during training. Specifically, they were talking about nutrition during the race. I had not eaten anything during any of my runs, because I felt completely fine even during my 18-mile run, so I thought I would be okay. Boy, was I wrong. During mile 21, the hunger and weakness hit me all at once and the last five miles did not go well. My advice is simple: train with food so you don't have a terrible end of the run.

All in all, marathons are intense. They take a lot of time and dedication to training and nutrition, but doing one gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment. You learn a lot about yourself during training and the race that you would never expect. If you feel up to the challenge, get training!