Honest marathons: Lucerne (Part 1)

I ran my first marathon!

The month leading up to the marathon was busy and as a result I barely had time to run, let alone sit down and write. Last October, my work transported me to Seville, Derby, Paris, Milan, Padua and Venice… all within the final few weeks leading up to marathon weekend in Switzerland. I was exhausted before I’d even boarded my flight to Lucerne.

Freezing/running on the Monsal Trail, Derbyshire.

I signed up to Swiss City Marathon shortly after I cheered on my friend running the London Marathon back in April. At the time I was feeling strong, well-rested and in keen to start logging those miles.

Life is unpredictable. When I quit alcohol I imagined my social calendar would get quieter, attending less events and not getting invited to parties so much. Surprisingly, the opposite happened. At two years sober, my diary has never been so busy. I imagine it’s a mixture of not bailing on events anymore due to hangxiety and the fact that I’m much nicer company when I’m not necking a bottle of wine.

As a result, I ended up running to and fro’ all the social occasions because that was the only way I was able to log up the miles. I nearly missed by brother’s wedding because I was still out running an 18km a mere hour before his ceremony was due to start. Running to/from social engagements was a lifesaver.

Frequent travelling for work didn’t help but goddamit my trainers joined me on every damn trip, even if meant running through torrential rain at 7am on the outskirts of Derbyshire.

“Who runs a marathon for “fun?”. I do! The girl who thought pouring 20+ units down her throat each day was fun would obviously assume that pounding 20+ miles of pavement would also be a laugh.”

MARATHON TRAINING PLAN

LOL just kidding: I didn’t follow a plan.

There are hundreds of marathon training plans out there and I ignored all of them. My friend Karen who I supported in London was joining me for Switzerland and so my only goal was to run with her. It was her last ever marathon, so we were in it just for fun and laughs.

Who runs a marathon for “fun?”. I do! The girl who thought pouring 20+ units down her throat each day was fun would obviously assume that pounding 20+ miles of pavement would also be a laugh. My sense of fun is somewhat warped.

The end time didn’t matter, and I didn’t need the additional pressure. If I had made a goal it would be sub 4 hours. I ran my last half marathon at sub 2 hours, and even that was with a ripped hip flexor.

I kept it simple by just gradually increasing my mileage every week until a month prior to race day. My longest run didn’t exceed 20 miles and I ensured that I rested when my body ached. On average, I ran three times a week but I worked hard to keep it balanced. When working overseas, I was lucky if I ran twice a week but I compensated for running frequently at home in London.

I also joined Stylist Strong last year which transformed my perception of women’s gym classes. I used my time here building up my leg muscles in the final month leading up to race day. I learnt more about visualisation techniques, foam rolling and how to deadlift.

WHAT I WORE

Running is the most accessible sport available and yet it can still feel elitist. Hoardes of influencers swamp Instagram with their expensive gifted running apparel that they don’t use. What’s fantastic about long distance running is that you’re not supposed to wear anything new or fancy. It’s encouraged that you wear your well-tested kit for race day.

Most marathons usually host an “expo” where you can purchase emergency kit prior to the race but it shouldn’t be relied on! What feels comfortable in the fitting room could easily be chafing after mile one.

Here’s my race flat lay. My body’s different to yours, so what clothes work for me may not work for you:

From the bottom up

Trainers: Adidas Solar Glide (Size 39. I’m 38 but you I’d definitely recommend sizing up by at least half a shoe size).

Socks: Runderwear Anti-Blister.
I… wasn’t a fan. They also completely lose their shape after washing. I’d had high hopes for them as they’re an eye-watering £14 a pair. Cosy, but definitely ended up with two blisters after the race.

Knickers: New balance. I’ve only ever worn New Balance knickers for exercise and they’re superb. They wick away sweat, don’t ride up and are inexpensive.

Shorts: Ronhill “Marathon” shorts. I was enticed by the gimmicky name BUT this is the best bit of kit I’ve ever bought. You can read my full review here.

Bra: Nike. I’ve had this for nearly three years… so it’s racked up at least 2,000 miles by now but the elasticity is still fantastic. If you’re a B Cup or under these offer perfect support.

T-Shirt: Nike Dri-FIT red t-shirt. Size L. I’ve tried Asics, New Balance and Adidas t-shirts but nothing beats the lightness of a Nike t-shirt. I have three in different colours that I wear all the time.

WHY LUCERNE?

The time of year you choose to run races says a lot about you. You have to be crazy fearless to participate in a summer-time running event. I despise running in heat so we sought out a race as close to November as possible. K. and I also chose it for:

  1. Scenery (medieval architecture, mountains and its vast lake).
  2. Delicious food (raclette, fondue, chocolate. YUM).
  3. Its “flat*” course

*I didn’t research the course. It wasn’t until I was running the race that I realised it’s relatively hilly. Not steep inclines, but long inclines uphill. Plus it’s two laps, which I found quite tough to deal with after mile 14.

Other Lucerne pro tips:

  1. Don’t make the same mistake I did by walking miles around Lucerne’s vast lake the night before the marathon. The city is huge. The race is held on a Sunday- most of the city is closed then so stay another day and save your exploring for the following Monday.
  2. Don’t buy train tickets from the airport/border into Lucerne. All marathon runners are issued with a “Swiss Runners Ticket” which enables you to use trains across the country for no additional cost (check this still applies for 2020!)
  3. Double your budget: Switzerland is expensive. Post-marathon, 100 CHF (£86) bought me a basic large takeaway pizza. When people tell you a bottle of Swiss water is £6, believe them.

Essential race info and city guide: coming soon!

Lake Lucerne

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