My Biggest Running Frustrations

Thanks to the help of some blogger friends (Elina & Melissa) I survived my first 20 mile run of my Boston Marathon training. I am planning on doing another 20 mile run in 2 weeks and am toying with the idea of a 22 miler the last weekend in March before tapering back big time.

I spent the week prior to my run eating REALLY well. We normally eat good food, but I bought another tub of Super Red Drink Powder, which I have been drinking every morning or evening, depending on my kale smoothie schedule. Our smoothies have been veggie powerhouses, and I even ate lean chicken a few times. I have been trying to introduce new sources of antioxidants, have been drinking more green tea and in general spent lots of energy focusing on feeling good for the run.

I woke up Saturday morning, confirmed my route online, and suited up before eating 1/2 of a banana with 2 spoonfuls of almond butter and a cup of green kombucha tea.

It was snowing lightly when I started, but before I went 1/2 mile, the sun came out and the South Boston waterfront shone in the light.

Running along, I felt great overall except for frustration #1. I was too full and started cramping up. I let about 40 minutes pass after eating, but even after years of running, I can not seem to figure out a good eating before running balance. It is almost better if I go on an empty stomach, but being super hungry isn’t fun either.

If you have figured out a good running before eating strategy – How soon before a run do you eat? What do you normally eat?

I was able to stretch my sides a little and to eventually get over that full feeling. . . and then spent most of the run with a growling stomach. Then the doubt started to kick in. Even though I have completed many races, including 3 marathons, I still doubt myself on pretty much every run. Do I need hypnotherapy? Positive self talk helps to an extent, but I feel like the negative thoughts drain energy, and I would like to banish them forever if possible!

What do you do to keep a positive mental outlook on runs? Do you ever feel like your mental state totally throws a workout?

My final frustration is the biggest. Overall I am in great cardiovascular shape. I can run at a good pace without breaking a sweat for a long time and don’t have trouble gasping for air or feeling tired in that way. What does happen is after a certain number of miles, maybe 13 or 14, my legs start to kill me. Obviously, some of this is normal, but it is frustrating to have to stop and walk or stretch when I feel like I am not even pushing myself! I would love for my legs to feel less painful. Its not even fatigue, it is just aching all over.

Do you have any suggestions on how to curb leg pain in longer races? Is it weight training for stronger muscles? Stretching more during the week? Popping ibuprofen during the race?

Any and all tips are welcome! And if you have any training questions for me I am happy to answer them.


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Tags: fitness, marathons, running, training

  1. The Red Menace’s avatar

    Hmmm, I usually eat more than that before a long run, but more in advance of it. This weekend I had a bagel with peanut butter about 2 hours before the run, and some OJ. I bring dried fruit along and a couple of pieces of that keeps me from feeling awful. Leg pain, on the other hand, is all over the place – it varies throughout the run. It’s not really my major weakness (that would be the asthmatic wheezing) but I do feel it and ibuprofen beforehand does help.

    As for the mental aspect, I think that is HUGE, maybe more important than anything else. I’m not sure how you can get more confident though, other than to reflect on all of those good things you HAVE done and remember that you will get through it! Keep up the great work!


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      I guess I need to get up earlier to eat more. :( I can’t even imagine running with asthma! My breathing is the one thing that does work well!


    2. Abby’s avatar

      I ran way too full yesterday. I did 2 instead of 12. Pretty bummed, but I can’t let it keep me down.

      I have yet to find the perfect strategy. It seems to be hit or miss. However, I want you to be my marathon training coach, ok? :)


      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        I wish you lived closer! I would love to run with you!


      2. RunToTheFinsih’s avatar

        Yeahhh I get so excited when folks are finding new limits in their running! It’s very exciting. Let’s see for me:

        Eating: I eat just a few minutes before I head out..if I give it lots of time then my body is processing it and that’s no good for me. I eat a slice a whole wheat bread with banana and tbsp of pb for long runs

        Mental: I like listening to audio books for distraction and when I get tired I start listing all the things I’m grateful for which gives me a weird little pick me up!

        Legs: Have you tried some dynamic stretching before you start and are you maybe starting the run too fast?


      3. Nicole @ making good choices’s avatar

        I feel your frustrations but even though you are struggling you are still doing it and getting through it! Have you tried eating half a larabar or something like that? That helps me before my morning workout even though I don’t run close to 20 miles also if you are going super early have you thought to eat a blander dinner? (Does that make sense) if I have a stomach full of beans the night before I run it is NOT a good situation. Good luck with whatever you try. Do u wear an ipod to drown out negative thoughts?


      4. Laurelin’s avatar

        Great job on 20 miles!

        I used to run on an empty stomach all the time, because I felt otherwise I got an upset stomach. But with these kind of miles, I have recently found a pretty good food plan. I eat oatmeal with cinnamon and sugar about 30-60 minutes before I start running. Then sometimes in the car on the way to the trial, I’ll eat trail mix. I try to drink a TON of water the day and night before, and morning of long runs. This has seemed to work out well lately. I end up hungry the last 4 miles or so, but I think that’s inevitable.

        I find that running with a partner helps me stay positive. When she’s down I work on cheering her on, when I’m down she works on cheering me up. And even if I do get whiny, there’s no room to walk or stop because someone is with me who wants to keep going. It has helped immensely! I also try to focus on enjoying the sun/outdoors, and my next water stop location.

        As for the tired legs, I don’t have any guidance.
        Also, have you run 22 in training for the other marathons? Our training only calls for 20, but my running partner is considering 22, which leaves me doing the same….


        1. traveleatlove’s avatar

          I was originally planning on running up to 22, but right now I am thinking I will run 21 in 2 weeks, see how I feel, then maybe run another 20 before March is over, then tapering pretty hard core. I also am adding intense hill workouts during the next 6 weeks to hopefully build up some leg endurance for the Newton Hills. Thanks for all of the tips! Let me know if you decide to do 22.


        2. Simply Life’s avatar

          Those long runs are always painful for me no matter what! I definitely do much better eating a little before hand – usually just a piece of bread with almond butter…but I feel like the pain makes me feel even better about myself when I’m done :)


        3. Nicole’s avatar

          I thought I commented on this before, but I guess it didn’t work for some reason? Have you tried eating half of a Larabar or some type of bland bar like a peanut butter one before a run? Also have you looked at your dinners the night before to see if they could be affecting you? I know if I have a huge dinner or a lot of beans the night before I run it is NOT a good situation the next day. Good luck, I know it is super frustrating!


          1. traveleatlove’s avatar

            I should try 1/2 a Larabar. They are nice and dense without being too filling! For some reason your other response went into spam, and I hadn’t had a chance to fish it out yet. Hopefully that won’t happen again; I appreciate your suggestions!


          2. Matthew Anderson’s avatar

            ibuprofen is definitely the best OTC painkiller for me. It helps me a lot to deal with my muscular pain.’;;


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