Overcome marathon training hurdles

How is marathon training like driving?

Have you ever tried to drive a car with the emergency brake on? If you’ve never done this, here’s what happens. When pressing down on the gas pedal, it feels like the car is working extra hard. There’s resistance, but the car also has a pleasant smoky smell. There are a couple of things you can do. You can push harder on the gas pedal to overcome the extra resistance. Or simply release the e-brake.

Sometimes we go through life with our mental 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 can impede our individual success.

Mental hurdles

Marathon training is already a long grueling process. So, don’t make it more difficult than it has to be. There are enough obstacles that exist in the training itself. Don’t add a double scoop of roadblocks and obstacles. Let me break it down.

morning run

Morning training

If you know that you are not a morning person, and feel sluggish and unmotivated at 6 am. Then, don’t run at 6 am. Or you could try running at noon or in the evening instead. Because of the heat and humidity of the Kansas City summer, I ran a 20-mile training run at 1 in the morning.

Hill running

Think differently about hills. Do you live at the bottom of a hill and your runs are physically taxing? Like the proverbial “uphill battle?”Then drive to the top of the hill 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. Running along the piers in San Francisco. These are a few of my favorite running areas. The change of scenery may keep you motivated.

Climate training

Do you live in Minnesota where it’s winter for 11 months? Go get some tights and hats and gloves to keep warm. Or, you could watch Godfather I and II (Godfather III is terrible) while running on a treadmill indoors. Mentally prep yourself for the cold weather. Think through it and visualize yourself successfully running through the snow. You can conquer the cold weather with your mind.

Time is a mindset

Leave your watch at home. This is more figurative than literal. Of course, you need to know what time it is if you’ve got a schedule to keep. This may be tough for really competitive people. 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.

Social running

If you are a social person, run with a group or a partner that you can talk to. Sometimes, this can help with overall morale and support. I trained for a few races with my sister. While on our early morning marathon training runs, we’d talk. 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.

Physical hurdles in marathon training

There are physical roadblocks we face when training. And if you’re a chubby runner, you’ve got your share of physical hurdles to overcome. You can overcome them. I know you can. I’ve put myself through the test and overcame it. Now it’s your turn to do the same.

Walking is part of marathon training

Walking is NOT bad. Some of the top running coaches agree. Coaches like, Jeff Galloway and John Bingham will tell you that walking while training 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 walking 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. 

Train to run a marathon

When you are further into your training and running, like 10-20 miles per week, you should start to dial down your walking and increase running. If it’s a choice between no running and walking, I’d say walk. Just remember, 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. However, I did walk a little during my second race, The La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon. We will talk in future posts about the pros and cons of walking through aid stations during the race.

Recommit yourself to marathon training

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. So, the last thing that we want to do is make the marathon seem completely out of reach. 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. 

Marathon training milestones

Milestones are a way to break up your marathon training into more manageable pieces. 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 a movie or some new clothes. It can be any carrot you choose. Whatever motivates 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. You are a marathon runner now, you can accomplish anything.

Stay the course

If for some reason, you don’t achieve your milestones, you may be tempted to throw in the towel. Stay strong, be positive. Remember 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 The Chubby Runner on your side.