Two and a half weeks into the marathon training clinic and I already have a nugget of wisdom. This is hard work. And the hard work hasn’t even started yet.
Dozens of people cram into the Vancouver Street Frontrunners store every Wednesday night to assemble for group drills in Victoria’s streets and parks in the 16-week program to train for a fall half or full marathon.
By and large, these are people who run two to four times a week and have finished multiple half-marathons and not a few marathons.
But there is something about those first few weeks of a training clinic that are almost surprising for many. It’s encountering the rust on the gears.
I don’t recall a 14K run or an 8K run for that matter feeling this hard. Yes, I know it’s all relative and I am damn happy that I can run that far without collapsing, but as I said it IS all relative and all my relatives have passed me.
It’s time for a little self pep-talk about motivation.
Motivation comes in two forms – the type that’s required for the initial goal-setting to run a race, be it your first 5K or aiming for a personal best time in a marathon. That’s the easy part. It’s like biting into a juicy, flavour-packed piece of fruit that explodes with sweet natural energy into your mouth. It’s a rewarding instant moment of commitment.
Then there’s the other kind - what I call the IV drip of motivation. This is the kind that you need to administer and savour, drop after drop, when you are feeling rusty, eye-balling an upcoming hill, dreading running in the heat or just feel crappy.
Here’s some tried and true tips from running master Jeff Galloway.
1. Back off on the pace or allow yourself walk breaks rather than avoiding a run or quitting partway.
2. Take a power gel or other nutrition for a blood sugar boost.
3. Break the distance into doable sections. Aim to run to the next telephone pole, stop sign, parked car.
4. Some people try to catch up to the person in front of them. Instead, focus on the person in front of that person, which will pull you father ahead.
5. Use a mantra to distract you. These can be encouraging: My legs are strong; I’m floating. A vision mantra: I can feel myself getting stronger; I can feel the pull of the finish line. Or some people distract themselves by imagining building a house, their week’s work wardrobe or a novel involving the people around them in the run. My mantra is simple and easy to remember when my body is a sweaty mess of pain - I can do it. And ultimately I do.
The last time I trained for this distance, every run was a victory. Now I’m just reminded of the seemingly endless workouts and kilometres ahead.
Then I tell myself to ‘suck it up buttercup’ and turn up my music, organize a winery tour in my head while plotting a crime novel.
Some people find motivation by being inspired by the beautiful and fast. But I find motivational videos like this one too slick and resplendent with product placements.
Give me an underdog story anytime. Regular people who make it happen. This is what inspires me.
My marathon journey
Week 3: The recent heat wave means it's more important than ever to run before work when possible. Replaced one mid-week run with elliptical workout in cool gym plus strength work. Training schedule weekly total 32K, Achieved. Injury report - sore achilles.
Week 2: Can Anyone Run a Marathon?