How to Train For A Marathon (And Not Go Crazy)

People talk a lot about how hard running a marathon is, but people rarely talk about how time consuming it is. Between the time spent away from home and the hours spent pounding the pavement with only yourself as company, preparing for 26.2 is a feat unto itself.

After training for 8 marathons, I have learned a lot of ways to make running distance not only manageable, but fun.

 

Don't Put It Off

When you know you have a long run on your schedule, it is easiest to just get up, get out, and get it done. The longer you put off your run in to your day, the harder it will be to get it done. Typically, I wake up, have some coffee, and get myself ready to go before I even realize what I’m doing. Don’t think… just go!

 

Goal

When I set off on a run, especially a long run, I have two goals:

  1. Get marathon ready
  2. Get through this run

Sometimes you are really feeling your run and you can focus on the larger goal, but sometimes you just need to get through it. You don’t always have to focus on being the fastest or strongest version of yourself. Sometimes you just need to show up and put in the work.

 

GPS

GPS is an amazing training tool. In pre-GPS days, I would map out my run and write directions on my arm in pen so I could ensure that I was putting in enough distance. So believe me, I am a full supporter of GPS. However, I sometimes fall in to the trap of watching my phone the entire time, watching the miles tick by. This can really, really make a run drag. Give yourself a good amount of time just enjoying your run before you start to stress distance. Just enjoy the ride and your run will be way more enjoyable and go by much faster.

 

Mantra

We all have our own reasons why we run. What motivates me is probably different from what motivates you. When I adopted a mantra that is personal to me, I found much more success in distance running. My personal mantra is:

Don’t regret later not putting in the work now.

One of my huge motivators is looking back on races and wondering if I could have tried a little more, pushed a little harder, and just generally done a little better. When I am hitting my wall in a race, I ask myself how I will feel later if I don’t give it my all now. That is usually the push I need to get across the finish line.

 

Podcasts

Music is an amazing running tool. When I am running under 8 miles or so, I am a music devotee. However, when it comes to longer distance, podcasts and audiobooks are a lifesaver! Being able to lose yourself in a story makes time go so much faster. I find that putting on a book or story that doesn’t require a huge amount of thought allows me to get lost in the story. When I was training for my first Portland Marathon, I listened to the entire Hunger Games series on Audible and it made runs go by so quickly.

Find a book that you might not have had time for at home and just let yourself get lost. Your long run will be over before you know it!

 

Training Plan

Training plans aren’t one size its all. What works for me may not work for you. Do your research and find a plan that fits your experience level, goals, and lifestyle. Don’t worry if your plan looks different from other people’s. Unless you are going out to win the race, then just find something that can get you across the finish line healthy and injury free.

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