So here I am exactly halfway through training for my first full marathon. I started training nine weeks ago and I have nine weeks left until thousands of us come together at that starting line. Really, only nine weeks ago? I feel as though I’ve been doing this forever. Being at this halfway point through training, I’m about to encounter a new level of training I’ve never experienced before and start to run distances that a few short months ago did not seem possible. I’ve been asked by people along the way how do I do it. How do I find time or the motivation to get my butt out there day after day? Motivation is the easy part, it’s all around me. I’ve been lucky enough to connect with some amazing people through social media who are run streaking, marathon training, trail running, doing relay’s, charity runs, you name it people are talking about it. People from all different lifestyles, communities and sense of purpose are talking about running and sharing their stories. I am in constant awe of the running community and it really inspires me to follow what they are doing. That being said, we’ve all heard that quote that the mind will give up a thousand times before our bodies will. Sometimes we need to change things up a bit to keeps our mind motivated.
A Friendly Boost
I am very fortunate to live in a city that has multiple running clubs that are willing to take in strays. On any given day of the week you can join up with a running crew and enjoy the company of others. If ever you get sick of running alone or need a little boost in motivation I highly recommend seeking out your local running crew and joining in. In my experience all are very accepting of fellow runners regardless of speed which was really reassuring for me. If you are a runner in this city, I can guarantee you are apart of an accepting, unbiased, extremely friendly community of amazing people. You just have to reach out and join in! Having a commitment to show up somewhere and run definitely helps give you that extra push to make sure you get that run in on those days when you feel like it’s easier to make up excuses and skip out. These are especially helpful for the longer runs to ensure that you’re running at conversation pace. The company on runs that last hours at a time is always welcome as well!
Family and friends of course can be your biggest source of motivation, after all these are usually your number one fans! Every time someone calls me crazy or insane for training for a marathon it’s a rush of motivation. People are following your progress and cheering you on. Even though running has become an everyday part of your life, you start to realize that you are inspiring people around you. Have you ever felt that excitement when you have successfully shown someone the joys of running? Some have come to rely on you for that spark in motivation. A glimmer of inspiration. Any positive impact on someone’s life is a reason for me to push harder and to keep climbing.
Avoid Monotomy, Spicing Things Up
Let’s face it, running every day is not for everyone. Although I do admire those who can do it, injury and boredom are very real possibilities for the majority of us. Cross training has done wonders for me personally. I am still not the fastest runner out there, but I am very excited that I am currently injury free and going strong! Spinning and swimming are my go to cross training workouts. Both allow me to work on my cardiovascular endurance without pounding the pavement, giving my shins and feet a bit of a break. I currently cross train three days a week and run three to four times a week. Before cross training I was bogged down with sore muscles and injuries. It’s really made such a positive difference for me and the change up keeps things interesting as there’s always a new challenge awaiting me in each of the three sports.
As you can probably tell, I enjoy change. I do get bored easily so everything about my training continues to change week to week. In addition to cross training, I vary my running routes often. If I’m doing a long run I tend to get lost in a trail system somewhere. For short tempo runs, I’ll aim for flat surfaces to better gage and maintain my speed and for those short easy runs I often don’t plan it at all. I just let my feet direct me around the nearby neighbourhoods. Variety is key to keeping my interest. Changing up the scenery and terrain has been an easy way to accomplish this. Music is another. I have a lot of music, some of it organized, some of it scattered. Although it looks hilarious clipped to my clothes, I run with my little iPod shuffle. Whatever mood I’m in I add that playlist and if I really want it to be random, I put it on shuffle. It’s as easy as that. My brain works in mysterious ways, and even if I am forced to run that same route for a little while, by changing up my playlist it’s like a whole new route altogether! Music also flows closely with my mood. If the two clash, I’m in for a messy run! Sometime even though you’ve changed up your route and music, you still can’t seem to get out of that running rut. When all else fails I recommend forgetting about your training schedule altogether. Forget about paces and the marathon ahead, leave your watch at home and just run. Enjoy your favourite landscape and route, listen to your favourite music, keep your head up, look around and run until you feel like heading home. A few of these runs can remind you why you fell in love with running in the first place. Sometimes that’s all I need to get me back on track.
As marathon training progresses, more of your time is required. Some days you need to dedicate 4 hours just to working out. That’s part of the journey, the road to getting to where you want to be. Some days you wake up full of pee and vinegar, other days you wake up procrastinating through the day pushing your run later and later. Although I’m a big fan of night time running, mostly because I work well into the evening most days, I do know that if you wake up and get your run out of the way, you won’t dwell on it and have time to make excuses as to to why you can’t fit in that day. Don’t think about it, lace up and get out there. Even if you’re tired, once you get out there and running, you’re much more likely to get that full work out in. There are more times then I can count when I’ve been sore and tired and have convinced myself that I’ll only run a few km to loosen up instead of the full workout I should be doing. Once I get out there, I always end up finishing the full workout and feeling pretty good about it. The hardest part is always just getting your butt out that door when your mind is telling you to curl up on the couch.
Writing out your schedule helps keep your workout schedule realistic. I have a monthly calendar on my fridge dedicated solely to my marathon training. I write in my workouts in two week blocks and manoeuvre things around to fit my work schedule or personal commitments. Having a hardcopy helps stick to the plan and I get this odd sense of gratification when I get to check off the day. I also keep a log and each day type out what workout I was suppose to do, what I ended up doing and how I felt about it. This keeps me accountable to myself and to my coach. No one wants to write down and admit that they’ve skipped a workout!
The next time you are thinking about skipping out on a run, think about how much work you have put in to get this far. Remember those runs this past winter? I think they still haunt me! How does that saying go? Don’t look at how far you still have to go, look at how far you have come! Nine weeks will go by in the blink of an eye. Get out there whenever you can and enjoy every step. I don’t know about you, but from losing toe nails to submerging myself into ice baths, this has been one heck of a ride so far and I know that crossing that finish line at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is only the beginning. I can’t wait to see you there!