Mind Tricks for Marathon Training

Do you even blog if you don’t have a “tips and tricks” title? While something so cliche pains me, I have found that a large part of my training has been tricking myself to rethink and reframe the task at hand.

Here are some tips whether you’re training for a race (of any distance) or if you’re still in the beginning steps of Couch to 5K 😉
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Trust your planning:

As I’ve mentioned before, people love to do math for marathon runners. I’ve often got the response to new mileage accomplishments, “Wow, and you are still going to have X miles after that!”

It’s important to take these comments with grace, and trust that you’re planning has you on the right track. Once I chose a training schedule, I made events on my google calendar for every Saturday leading up to the race with the mileage I’d be running. This allowed me to plan around obstacles, like weddings and work events, months ahead of time rather than making an excuse week of.

I also added month countdowns for every 7th of the month. Having the events “MM 4 MONTHS AWAY!” helped me keep my training top of mind, but also allowed me to relax as I remembered I had months of training to go.

Count up rather than down:

I understand saying I’m going for a 14 mile run doesn’t sound very appealing, I tend to feel the same. Rather than letting this goal daunt me, I set out on my run saying instead, “I’m going to run 7 miles and then I’ll run home.” As I’ve mentioned, being stranded 7 miles away from home makes it very motivating to keep the run going.

As I reach miles throughout, I don’t focus on how many miles I’ve accomplished, not how many miles I have remaining. If I slip up, I come back to the big picture- “I’ve only done four miles, I have 14 left to go! Well…I’m running 18 miles today and I’m done with 4.”

Lastly, in my 20 mile run last week, I split up the mileage in my mind to think, I just need to run 5 miles 4 times. At each 5 mile mark I would stop for a quick stretch (less than a minute) or refill my water. Running 20 miles always sounded daunting to me, and kind of still does, but this trick makes it much more manageable.

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Supplement your running
:

A big goal when starting marathon training was to not hate running by the end of it. Just above that goal was my hope to not get injured. I let these two work together by not running more than I absolutely needed to. This meant having a loose interpretation of training schedules, focusing on quality instead of quantity.

Outside of my long runs on Saturdays, I’ve kept my 6 am yoga and yoga sculpt practice in my routine, but have added in 1-2 days of running a week. One of those days is a 5-8 mile run outside, and the other is spent at FlyFeet Running in downtown Minneapolis to combine sprint work and strength training.

To be honest, I haven’t seen any training schedules recommend this (unless we can now count this blog post as an expert opinion). But I’ve felt better after my 18 and 20 mile runs than I did after any of half marathons, so something must be working!

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In my yoga class this morning, I shared the idea of cautious curiosity. We were building on dancer to king dancer pose, and later had more opportunity for backbends of bridge and wheel. “Recognize what your body has already done,” I shared, “This might be the time to explore a bigger expression, because you’ve been building to it. Or this might be the time to back off, because you’ve already asked enough.”

This is what I’ve kept in mind with my training. Yes, I should be able to run X amount of miles on a given day because I’ve been working towards this, but I must remain curious and give my body the chance to weigh in.

What better day to dedicate a class to cautious curiosity than taking on a 22 mile run on a 90 degree September day?! Accepting thoughts and prayers.

 

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