As the training cycle for the Marine Corps Marathon and other fall races approaches, those of us running a fall event have likely started thinking about the mileage we’ll be running and training plan we’ll use. We’ve also hopefully started to build a strong base mileage and have thought about who we will train with and if we’ll enlist the help of a coach. And if we haven’t, it’s not too late to start! Depending on the length of your training plan and which fall race you are running, your official training may start anywhere from mid-June to the end of July.
While the long runs are often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about marathon training, it’s not the only component of our training that matters. One thing that you may not have considered, especially if this is your first marathon, is the mental component of training for a long race. While a half marathon can be daunting for a first-timer, it is usually a manageable distance for most. A full marathon is a different beast, though. As you think ahead to the 4-5 months of marathon training that you’re about to embark upon, start planning with these things in mind:
You’ll need to make some compromises: If you have an active social life, be prepared for an early bedtime on either Friday or Saturday night for that weekend long run and know that the weeknight happy hours will likely not be as frequent. While you can certainly have a social life while training, if you’re going out all the time, your training will suffer and you will not set yourself up for success for race day. Let your friends/significant others/colleagues know this now, so they can be supportive of your decision to pass on that drink and go home early to get up for your weekend long run.
Put your runs into your calendar: Once you’ve chosen a training plan, put those runs (especially the long ones) into your calendar now. Look to see when weddings, summer trips, etc, fall on the same weekends as your really long runs and start thinking about how you’re going to make sure those runs still happen. The long runs are the backbone of a marathon training plan, and while not doing one of them 1-2 times in a cycle won’t ruin your training (it happens to most people), if you’re missing a lot of those runs, it will affect your readiness for the race.
Remember what motivated you to sign up: When those miles get long and the summer heat is nothing short of oppressive, you need to remind yourself why you are doing this. Everyone has their own personal goal, whether it is a time, raising money for a cause, checking it off the bucket list, or something else. Know your reason and hang it up somewhere as a reminder.
Get an accountability partner (or group): While there will be some tough miles, one of the most challenging parts of marathon training is the mental aspect – getting out there day in and day out to put in the work, even when you’re tired or have other life things going on. If you know someone if meeting you at a certain time, skipping that run is less likely to happen. Find a person or group that will keep you accountable, even if it’s just once a week.
Marathon training will be full of ups and downs – both in how you feel physically and how you feel mentally. You will no doubt question why you signed up for a marathon, especially if this is your first time training for one. Doing some planning ahead will help put you in the right frame of mind to navigate the challenges that will come during training, so you can get to the start line ready to go!
Tammy Whyte is the owner and head coach at TW Training and Wellness and is both a certified personal trainer (NASM) and certified running coach (RRCA). Summer Marathon and Half Marathon Training Programs are open for registration, and they are a great way to be supported throughout the training cycle – both by a coach and a fun group of other runners. Programs are open to all levels of runners and start in June. Check out more information and her training programs at www.twtrainingwellness.com. Feel free to reach out with questions at [email protected]