Since announcing here that I’ll be running a marathon in January, I’ve been hard at work training and I’ve raced a half marathon. Maybe you’re thinking that the whole “run a marathon” thing is pretty difficult, and it is, but training isn’t really easy either.
There are a lot of training plans out there, but the one I chose is an app called Run Trainer. It’s basically an offshoot app of Map My Run, and it allows you to plug in your race date and length (it’s not just for marathons) as well as how many days a week you intend to run, then it spits out a plan that should get you to the race in good shape if you follow along. I like this for a lot of reasons:
- It doesn’t require any real thought on my part. The app just tells me what to do; it literally sends me a reminder in the morning about my daily workout.
- It’s on my phone, not on a piece of paper. So I can check it during the day (after my bleary 6am self closes the reminder without reading it) and mentally plan out my run.
- It actually allows you to shift days around. So when you realize you promised to meet a friend for dinner on Thursday night, you can flip it with Wednesday’s rest day and not feel bad about it. Easy peasy!
Speaking of feeling bad about not sticking to a training schedule, let’s talk about consistency. Ideally, building up endurance is about running a lot of miles, and running often. It’s easy to let yourself get worked up about never missing a workout, pushing harder every time, and feeling guilty about not always meeting your goal. But that’s not fair to yourself. Training is a marathon in itself, not a sprint; you want to be the tortoise and not the hare (and, ideally, use a lot of metaphors), keeping your overall plan in mind. I’ve had a week or two where I didn’t get all my runs in, and I’ve had runs where I’ve felt great and others that I struggled with. That’s totally normal – not every day is going to be a good day so you just work with what you’ve got. Celebrate those good days when you have them and don’t beat yourself up over missed or slow workouts, just promise yourself that you’ll keep trying.
I did have a great day for the Bay Ridge Half Marathon. I told myself that I wouldn’t go out too fast because I just wanted to be consistent with my pace, which I actually had some difficulty with for the first 5 miles, going too fast and then overcompensating and slowing down too much. But once I found the sweet spot of my speed, I was able to maintain it to the finish line. I finished this half marathon about 7 minutes faster than my last one, which is definitely a victory!
It’s getting harder to stay motivated as the weather changes, and it gets dark earlier at night, but I’m excited to see what I can do at the marathon and that tends to keep me going. Also, since I’m running in support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and my favorite little Summer girl, I don’t want to let them down! If you’re able to, please donate to our team here.