One Year, Two Races:  Emilia's Marathon & Triathlon Journey

One Year, Two Races: Emilia's Marathon & Triathlon Journey

Have you ever found yourself craving something more than just your usual workout routine? That's exactly what happened to Emilia, who decided to take on the challenge of training for both a triathlon and a marathon, in the same year! Her journey is a testament to the thrill of pushing limits, and proving to yourself just how far you can go. Here, she shares her experiences, challenges, and triumphs as she navigates the demanding yet rewarding path of endurance training.

Inspiration to Take on the Challenge
"I’ve always loved trying new things, and to be honest, I was bored of just strength training," Emilia begins. "Sitting in that uncomfortable feeling of not knowing if you are physically able yet is kind of thrilling. After completing my first Olympic Triathlon and not dying, I was hooked on the feeling of accomplishment and wanted to do it all over again with the marathon. There’s just something about pushing your limits and proving to yourself that you can do it."

Triathlon vs Marathon Training
While both demanding, triathlon and marathon training challenge you in very different ways. "Triathlon training requires balancing swimming, cycling, and running, which means mastering multiple disciplines and incorporating a lot of cross-training. This variety keeps things exciting and ensures you’re always working different muscle groups, which can help prevent burnout and overuse injuries," Emilia explains.

On the other hand, marathon training is all about running. "It involves building up endurance and mental toughness over time, with a significant emphasis on heart rate zones, time on feet, pacing, distance, and stamina. I've made sure to include at least three strength sessions weekly for variety and maintenance of strength, which is very important for injury prevention."

Though she found the variety in triathlon training more enjoyable, Emilia notes the simplicity and meditative quality of marathon training. "There’s a certain simplicity and meditative quality to marathon training that I’ve come to find, but it can also get boring. Queues six podcasts and three playlists to get me through the long runs (IYKYK)."

Overcoming Challenges
Training for endurance events is never without its hurdles. Emilia recalls a particularly challenging moment during her marathon training: "I finally experienced hitting the 'wall' during a long run. It happened during my 30 km long run, with just over 1 km left to go. My legs felt heavy, my energy was drained, and my mind was filled with doubts about whether I could finish the run, let alone the marathon."

To push through, Emilia used a mix of positive self-talk and breaking down the distance into manageable chunks. "I girl math-ed it and told myself that if I have run this far, I can definitely run for a few more minutes. And I did."

The Rewarding Aspects
The sense of accomplishment that comes with each week's longest run has been the most rewarding part of her journey. "There's something incredibly gratifying about pushing past my previous limits and achieving distances I never thought possible. It's a reminder of how far I've come in my training and helps make the sore muscles, early mornings, and lack of social time feel worth it in the end."

Impact on Mental Health and Well-being
Balancing training with a full-time job and a social life has presented its challenges, but marathon training has taught Emilia the importance of resilience and perseverance. "I’ve learned to embrace discomfort and setbacks as opportunities for growth."

Moments of Doubt and How to Overcome Them
Naturally, there were moments when Emilia felt like giving up. "About three or four weeks into training, I found myself feeling frustrated and discouraged. I remember texting my coach, questioning why my partner could maintain a lower heart rate than me but still run at a faster pace. To push through, I reminded myself that comparison is the thief of joy and to keep my eyes on the prize."

The Role of a Support System
"My coach has played a pivotal role in my training so far, providing expert guidance tailored to my individual needs and goals. Having a partner who's also training for the marathon has been a game-changer for sharing the highs and lows," Emilia shares. She also emphasizes the importance of having a support system, whether it's a partner, friends, or fellow runners, to make the journey easier and more enjoyable.

Nutrition and Recovery
Managing nutrition and recovery is crucial during intensive training periods. Emilia prioritizes a well-rounded diet, proper hydration, and adequate rest. "I pay attention to the timing of my meals and snacks to ensure I have adequate fuel for workouts and recovery. Staying hydrated is essential, and I supplement with electrolyte drinks post-workout, magnesium before bed, and gels throughout my run."

Lessons Learned
When asked about the lessons she's learned through this journey, Emilia laughs, "I don't know! Maybe ask me when I finish? But the answer might be to never do anything like this again 😂"

A Memorable Triathlon Experience
Emilia vividly recalls her first triathlon experience. "I was incredibly nervous before the race. Once the race began, I was confident I would finish. There were tough moments, like the 40km/hr headwinds on the bike back and brutal quad cramps during the run, but overall, I loved every moment of the race, especially sharing the experience with friends. But let's be real, the highlight was definitely beating my partner! (Sorry, Finn)."

Preparing for the Marathon
As she prepares for her upcoming marathon, Emilia feels a mix of excitement and nerves. "There's definitely a sense of excitement and anticipation, knowing that all the hard work and training will soon culminate in this big event. However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling nervous too. I trust in the training I've put in and know that by the time race day comes, I will have done everything I can to be ready."

Advice for Aspiring Endurance Athletes
For those considering taking on a marathon or a similar endurance challenge, Emilia offers these pieces of advice:

  • Start slow and gradually build up your mileage and fitness level to reduce the risk of injury and burnout.
  • Consistency is key. Stick to your training plan as much as possible, even when life gets busy or motivation wanes.
  • Enjoy the journey and celebrate your progress along the way.
  • Believe in your ability to push past your limits, overcome obstacles, and achieve your goals. Trust in your training, preparation, and most importantly, yourself.
Emilia's journey to becoming a formidable endurance athlete is a testament to the power of perseverance, resilience, and the joy of pushing one's limits. Whether you're training for a triathlon, marathon, or any other endurance challenge, her story is sure to inspire and motivate you to take on new challenges and reach new heights.