While there are some people who can not run for weeks or months and then go out and run 26.2 miles on nothing more than a whim (these people will henceforth be referred to as freaks), the rest of us mortals require some level of consistent training in order to survive (and dare I say, thrive in?) your particular race.
Even though I know how important my training runs are, I’m at the point in my marathon training where I’ve got a serious case of the blahs every time another long run rolls around. I just don’t have the drive right now to go slog through 3+ hours of running along many of the same streets that I’ve been regularly running for the past 6 months. I’m just ready to run the damn race already! But as I start to close on on my 4th marathon (6 1/2 weeks left), I continue to force myself to get in my long training runs because I know that they will pay off on October 26th.
For me, the marathon training blahs show up in a couple different forms but they are all capable of talking me out of going long that day. For those of you that have run and trained for marathons before, perhaps you can relate to one or more of these.
Unless you’re a freak, of course. In which case I have nothing to say to you right now.
Training for marathons can be really boring. Think about it, most people train by gradually increasing their mileage by a mile or two each week until they have run 20+ miles a few times before the race. The problem is, most people (save for lesser freaks) aren’t able to start their marathon training program with long runs of 12-15 miles. So you start out going 6 or 8 miles, and add a mile or two a week for the next 12 weeks or so until you feel like you’re capable of handling the full race distance. This training gets even more boring if you’re running by yourself (been there) and running basically the same route (done that) every week.
Talk about hating your runs.
In order to possibly counteract this, consider joining a group of runners in your area that are training for distance races. Group runs are great to not only motivate you to get out of bed and moving, but it will also push you to get faster, walk less, and train more regularly. Also, switch the route as often as possible. Cause running the same route all of the time gets real old, real quick.
Another way to break up the training routine is to sprinkle in a race or two during your training program. If there is a 5k or 10k in town one weekend, run that instead of your usual long run distance. Not only with this provide some variety and spice to your training program, but it will also give your body a little break from the pounding it takes during your regular long runs.
Long runs take time. Sometimes it can be difficult to find time for a 3+ hour long run. I don’t have any kids yet, but even with the dogs and the wife and work my Saturday morning schedule can be a little tight. And while I’ve somehow become a morning runner, it’s still really hard to start running before 5:30 in the morning. It’s hard enough getting out of bed at 4:30, I can’t imagine starting to run at that hour!
The only way to make training for a marathon a little bit easier on the time budget is to break your runs up. Do half in the morning and half in the evening if you have to. I’d make that argument that, for me at least, there is more benefit to doing the whole run at once. But if the options are only do 10 miles for the day or do 10 in the morning and 10 at night, I’d have to say that getting the 20 in will be more beneficial come race day.
As much as the training blahs have set in for me, I know that the training I’m doing now will pay huge dividends when I get to Missouri and start my race. I honestly can’t believe I’m admitting this, but for my first marathon I really didn’t think I’d need to do a lot of long training runs. Going into the race, the longest run I had done was 14 miles, and I was convinced I could maintain that same type of pace for the full 26.2.
Boy, was I wrong!
If you’re trying to convince yourself that you really don’t need to do a few really long runs prior to your marathon, please don’t be as foolish as I was.
Unless, of course, you’re a freak, in which case we are not friends.
Pushing through the training blahs is absolutely necessary, I promise. If you’re training for your first race, I’ll forgive you for questioning how much running you really need to be able to do before your first marathon. If you’ve ever run one before, however, you should already know. Even if you’re not worried about a specific time goal, getting enough training in before the race makes the entire race experience much more enjoyable.
As of right now, I’m officially in blahsville, also known as marathon training hell. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. The race is coming in just a few short weeks, and if I don’t prepare for it now, I know I’ll be sorry on race day.
I know this.
But it doesn’t make the long runs any less blah.
*For you freaks out there, I promise that deep down I don’t dislike you. I’m just really, really, jealous that I can’t be a freak too.
Those of you that have run marathons before, did you experience a case of the blahs during your training? How did you shake up your training to keep you on your training schedule?