How is marathon training like driving? Have you ever tried to drive a car while the emergency brake is on? Of course not, me either. But I had a friend once that did and he said that it felt like the car was working extra hard when he tried to accelerate. Not only was there resistance but the car also had a
pleasant smoky smell. There’s a couple things he could have done, push harder on the gas pedal to overcome the extra resistance, or release the e-brake. Sometimes we go through life with our e-brake on. We are our own biggest obstacle, and marathon training is no different. We put up road blocks both mentally and physically, consciously and subconsciously, that impede our individual success.
Marathon training is a long grueling process already; don’t make it more difficult than it has to be. There are enough obstacles that exist in the training itself, you don’t need to add a double scoop of roadblocks and obstacles.
Let me break it down.
If you know that you are not a morning person, that you feel sluggish and unmotivated at 6 am, don’t run at 6 am. Train at noon or in the evening instead. Due to the heat and humidity of the Kansas City summer, I once ran a 20 mile training run at 1 in the morning.
If you live at the bottom of a hill and your runs are physically taxing, the proverbial “uphill battle,” then drive to the top and run down. Use gravity to your advantage. Train on easier routes, scenic routes, and downhill routes, anything to keep you interested and engaged in running. Running along Lake Michigan in Chicago is a great scenic run amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city. Along the piers in San Francisco is also a great run. These are a few of my favorite running areas. The change of scenery may keep you motivated.
If you live in Minnesota where it’s winter for 11 months, get some tights and hat and gloves, to keep warm, or watch the Godfather I and II (III is terrible) while running on a treadmill indoors.
Walking is NOT bad. Many of the top running coaches like Jeff Galloway and John Bingham will tell you that walking while in a marathon training program is actually good. I completely agree. If you are out for a 3 mile jaunt in the blazing hot Arizona sun and you feel a cramp coming on, slow it down to a walk partner. Listen to your body, it knows you best. Walking allows you to catch your breath and reset your bearings. It can be good to cycle walking into your training runs in the beginning. When you are further along in training and running 10-20 miles per week, you will want dial down your walking and increase running consistency. If it’s a choice between no running and walking, I’d say walk. Ultimately, though, you are training to RUN a
marathon so your individual training should reflect that goal. I mentally willed myself to run the entire Kansas City Marathon; I didn’t even walk through the aid stations. I did walk a little during my second race, The La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon. We will talk in future posts about pros and cons of walking through aid stations during the race.
If you are a social person, run with a group or a partner that you can talk to. This helps with overall morale and support. I trained for a few races with my sister. We’d talk while on our early morning marathon training runs, which seemed to pass the time quickly and kept my mind engaged. You’ll find that running with someone tends to give you a little push, and in the beginning we need all the help we can get as we log our training miles. If you don’t know anyone there are great running groups in every area of the country. Here are a few sites to find fellow runners. Groups. Clubs. For Mommies.
Leave your watch at home. This is more figurative than literal; obviously, you need to know what time it is if you’ve got a schedule to keep. This will be tough for really competitive people, but in the beginning of your marathon training, don’t time your runs. Just run to get the feel for it. Work on your stride and your form. Work on your breathing. Run without the pressure of having to beat the clock. For some people this can lead to discouragement and, if you overdo it, can lead to injury.
These are some common personal roadblocks that we put up based on our mood, the weather, our busy schedule, school, family, etc. You will see that there are many, many more. The bottom line is, you committed to this training, and we chatted about it in a previous post. You’re locked in, and I’m not going to let you turn back now. We are in this together. The last thing that we want to do is make the marathon seem completely out of reach. So, as we get started running, we need to take baby steps toward the goal. Going from the couch (or whatever your personal fitness level) to running for 3 or 4 hours to complete a 26.2 mile marathon can be daunting. Milestones are a way to break up your marathon training into more manageable pieces. Because this is a life changing commitment, one that requires sacrifice to complete, milestones are the bite-sized, measurable goals that help propel us forward. We need to reward our small individual milestones with small rewards. If I make it up this hill without walking I will dot dot dot. For me, rewards came in the form of some kind of food, the bunnies from bunny tracks ice cream, chocolate dipped cannoli, a Ruth’s Chris Steak, or a pizza from d’Bronx or Nicolitalia Pizzeria. It can be food based for you too, or maybe you treat
yourself to some new clothes or a movie. It can be anything used as a carrot to motivate you. Over the course of your marathon training, these milestones become more running based as you accomplish things like running 5 miles for the first time EVER, or 10 miles or 20 miles. If it takes a little longer to get to the end goal, don’t worry about it, so what, you are a marathon runner, you can accomplish anything.
If, for some reason, you don’t manage to achieve your milestones, you may be tempted to throw in the towel. Stay strong, be positive! This goes back to the “running yardstick” that we talked about previously. If you are thinking about quitting your marathon training, stop and give yourself a 15 minute timeout before doing anything crazy. Think about how far you have come and what you have accomplished up to this point. Breathe in, breathe out. Now get up and go, you’ve got Chubby Runner on your side.
- Should I Make Sprinting a Part of My Marathon Training? September 28, 2017
- Am I Too Old to Run a Marathon? May 10, 2017
- Best Supplements for Runners January 5, 2017
- 4 Steps to Cut Belly Fat December 21, 2016
- Healthy Eating Tips December 19, 2016
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