Avoid hacks and embrace the long road
Next month I am aiming to complete my 2nd marathon in 2 years and I am really looking forward to it. I only started running properly in mid 2016 when I was offered a redundancy package and took some time off to spend with my family. It was during this time that I decided to take on a challenge that seemed to me to be way outside my comfort zone at that time and the marathon ticked all those boxes. But once I made the decision to do it – this is the critical part – I made a commitment to myself to complete the training, to prioritize the activities and above all else, to enjoy the process and the journey. Going into that challenge with that mindset helped me enormously not only to complete the marathon last year but also to finish it strongly which left me with a taste for more running.
I am 7 weeks out from the marathon day itself, with about 10 weeks of training completed at this point. So far so good, the body is feeling healthy, the mind is in a positive state and I feel the fitness and recovery are both improving steadily.
As I write this I want to make one point very clear: the training for this event is hard. There is no way around it. You must put in the hard work to enable yourself to complete the distance and enjoy the race on the day. Obviously, you can’t just turn up on the day and run a marathon but I hear plenty of stories of would be marathon runners short cutting the training or trying to condense the plan e.g. shorter duration, higher miles. I don’t believe any of these “hacks” will yield the same kind of results as when you build your fitness slowly, have patience with the plan and stick to your goals, even when you really really don’t want to. Hasten slowly is the best advice I have ever gotten when it comes to marathon training.
I want to make one point very clear: the training for this event is hard. There is no shortcut, quick hack or way around it. You must put in the hard work…
For example, as part of my plan, I run to work a few mornings a week. This is about a 6.5 mile run down the N11 dual carriageway into the city centre. It involves running on lots of grass verges, dodging cyclists, navigating traffic and pedestrians. It takes me about an hour to run it and I have a shower in work when I’m done. I run past hundreds of cars stuck in traffic. I don’t have any food beforehand, I just get up, get dressed into my running gear, kiss my kids and wife goodbye and off I set. Anyone I tell this routine to thinks I am crazy. I can’t think of anything worse, one person said to me. For me, it works as I can build the running into my day (tip number 1 for success) and I can come home from work in the evening and spend fun time with my kids before bedtime (tip 2 for life enjoyment). But some mornings, like this morning, I woke up tired and lying in bed I came up with lots of really good reasons not to pull on the runners and open the door. In hindsight, this was just procrastination and once you become aware of it, you can cut through it. I cut through it this morning by just pulling on the runners. That was enough to get me moving in the right direction.
I have chosen (and it is your choice too) to embrace the long road of marathon running, to hasten slowly and steadily and to enjoy the changes it is bringing into my life (body, fitness, mood, enjoyment). The hacks might work for a little while but for sustainable and real change, the long road is the only road.
If you can relate, leave a comment below, would be great to hear from you.