But Sara can. She's the Boston-based writer behind Life Between the Miles, and she ran this year's Boston Marathon. (Pause to send her a virtual high five, please.) When she offered to write a guest post, I knew I wanted to get her perspective on distance training and what it takes to stay sane...no matter what distance you're running. After all, she's a wife, mother and full-time employee (so clearly she's got her challenges when it comes to training).
Hello, Daily Dose readers! I am thrilled that Tara asked me to share my thoughts on how to have fun and stay sane while distance training/running. I ran the Boston Marathon this year, so everything is still fresh in my head!
n my 16 weeks of training, I went through three pairs of Brooks, ran over 450 miles, tried three training plans, had strep throat three times, caught the stomach flu, became best friends with my physical therapist...and a whole host of other fun situations happened. All while training alone in the deep freeze we called the Polar Vortex. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a tough Winter, but the tips below helped me push through. And the feeling I had running the Boston Marathon and crossing that finish line after all those weeks of hard work...that provided me memories that will last a lifetime, and that made it all worth it.
1) Find your motivation.
Everyone has their reason for running. Find yours. Write it down, put it somewhere it can be seen and remind yourself of it often.
2) Find a support system.
They aren’t kidding when they say it takes a village! My husband, mother, sister and friends all pitched in or offered words of encouragement when I needed it. I couldn’t have made it through the training without them. The texts when I was out on my long runs, the beeping of car horns when they passed me, my husband getting the hot tub ready for me to jump into as soon as I got in from those negative degree runs...all of those things helped push me through the tough times. Find your cheering squad, share your goals with them and let them support you!
3) Create a reasonable training plan.
Everyone’s abilities and needs are different ,so you need to find a plan that works for you, your goals and lifestyle. Not everyone can log 50+ miles weekly or run 4-5 days a week and stay healthy—and that is OK. You have to find a plan that allows you to train and run happy! If a stock plan doesn’t work for you, look for a certified running coach. I went through two training plans before my PT (who is also a running coach) created a plan that worked for me.
4) Live day by day.
16 (or more) weeks of training is a LONG time and running is 80% mental, so don’t look ahead to what your next workout is. Live your training plan day by day. This will allow you to focus on the task at hand and not get overwhelmed with what is to come.
5) Celebrate your accomplishments.
Log your longest run? Kill your times during your speed session? Celebrate it! It doesn’t have to be anything big, it could be a night in with your favorite movie, a new nail polish or a yummy drink at Starbucks (my personal favorite). Those little celebrations help keep you motivated and engaged.
6) Take care of your body.
I don’t know anyone who makes it through distance training without help from a PT, a foam roller, a ball...something. I am a big fan of the trigger point foam roller and lived on for those 16 weeks, but find what works for you and make the time for it. Your body will thank you.
7) Create a motivational playlist.
Or compile a list of podcasts/audiobooks you enjoy. Keeping your music or other listening material fresh is key to making it through those long runs. I tried to cycle my music every few weeks and I started listening to audiobooks on the really long runs and it makes time go by SO much faster!
8) Be consistent.
Life happens and not all runs go as planned, but the most important thing is that you stay consistent with your training. The end result is, after all a compilation of it.,
9) Cross train!
I’m a firm believer that every runner should cross train. There are so many reasons why it’s good for runners, mainly that it helps you get stronger which prevents injuries. It also helps maintain fitness by creating active recovery sessions. And gives you a break from running, allowing you to feel rejuvenated. The benefits are endless...trust me and do it!
10) Understand and accept that all runs will not be stellar.
Some days, the stars align and you feel like you can run forever,. But then, you have days when every step is a struggle and you don’t know how you are going to keep moving forward. This is normal. I had my very first DNF (did not finish) run during this training cycle. It was tough, but I learned a lot from it and was able to take that experience and become a better runner.
11) Respect your rest days.
You should take at least one full day off each week (and maybe more). It doesn’t matter how good you may feel, respect your rest days. Your body needs them...even if you don’t feel like you do.
12) Track your training.
Tracking your training (and routine) is helpful to identify potential improvements, to keep you on track and to help you look back on all your hard work. Everyone does this differently. I had my training plan posted in my office at work and my home office, so I would cross off every single day of training as I went. I also used DailyMile to track my runs, times, and how I was feeling.
Finally, once you’ve hit your taper—trust in your training. Your mind and body will likely play tricks on you during that taper week, so keep reminding yourself that you have done all the hard work necessary to get to that finish line and you ARE ready. Then, on race day, visualize yourself crossing that finish line strong. Go out there and run your heart out. Have fun, and don’t forget to smile at the race photographers. Those pictures will be on the internet forever!
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Question: How do you stay sane while distance training?