Lauren has been working at the Sea Life Aquarium for nearly 6 years and running for over 15 years. She has completed four half-marathons and one full marathon.
My first full marathon was the Detroit Free Press Marathon in 2019. Training for the big day was much harder than the race itself – I like to consider race day a victory lap to prove/celebrate all your hard work finally paying off!
At the time (and still today!) I was working a very physically demanding job. Most people don’t have the experience of working in an aquarium, so it’s hard to explain generally what I do on a day to day basis. Simply put, I lift a lot of heavy things, turn a lot of big valves, and am on my feet 40+ hours a week! There are plenty of jobs that require similar demands, so I’d imagine my audience for this blog post will be able to translate similar duties to their own daily routines.
I think the biggest thing to keep in mind (especially if this is your first marathon!) is that you want to prevent injury at all costs. This typically goes for everyone, but when working a job where you twist and turn and move all day, you’re probably more likely to injure yourself than others. Here’s some tips that I hope will help you on the journey ahead!
Count your steps
If you’re on your feet all day, you’re probably walking a lot further than you think. Some days you might travel further than others, causing you to be more tired than usual (it may be harder to notice if you work in a building – nurses for example!). Wearing a watch or tracker that counts your steps is a great way to take into account your work mileage when structuring your training plan for the week. On weeks where I walked 5+ miles per day at work, I would reduce my training miles by a few miles (nothing too drastic, but just taking into account how tired my legs were). You want to get your legs used to running when they’re tired, but nothing too extreme! Below are some options for step counting:
- “Steps” app – free and great if you have your phone on you all day
- Garmin or Apple Watch
Lift for the job
Lifting improves form! You need proper form to weight lift without injuring yourself, right? Once you get in a good groove of lifting frequently and properly, your form while doing everyday tasks will also improve by muscle memory. This will help you prevent injury during training, and will also reduce any soreness you’d typically have from a hard day at work. Below are a few tasks I have to perform at work alongside exercises I do at the gym to stay in shape for them.
Do dynamic stretches before your runs, and static stretches after. I warm my legs up before a run by standing still while swaying each leg 10x forward and back, and 10x side to side. After a run, I do a lot of lunge stretches to open my hips and stretch my calves/thighs. This prevents you from feeling too sore the following day!
Get enough sleep! You’ll need more now considering all the miles you’re logging. This is dependent on your personal needs, but I typically need at least 8-9 hours of sleep during training (and occasional naps!).
Replace Your Work Shoes
You know how running shoes need to be replaced every 300-500 miles? Your work shoes need to be replaced too, especially if you’re walking and lifting heavy things in them daily! In the past, I’ve worn shoes WELL past their deadlines, and it’s given me foot pain (and knee pain) that I couldn’t figure out the source of. I now replace my shoes at least twice a year, sometimes even more often! I’ve also seen a podiatrist who gave me a list of good work shoes to wear for the correct support (apparently Converse don’t have great support… ). You want to make sure you’re finding the right fit for you and your needs just like you would when picking out running shoes!
Give yourself a break if you need it!
Training for a marathon is HARD! Give yourself some grace if you’re absolutely too exhausted to move, chances are your body is trying to tell you something. You won’t lose fitness from an extra day off, so take it if you need it!
Good luck training Freep runners! I’ll see you on the start line in October :)