Hi! I’m Telisa and I blog over at Telisa5 (Clearly I’m not creative when it comes to making up blog names haha!). I was super excited when Ashley said she needed someone for this week’s Marathon and Moderation post.
I’ve ran 5 marathons (Chicago twice, Marine Corp, the Illinois Marathon, and the USA Marathon), 3 half marathons (Chicago, USA, and Virginia Beach) and am currently training for a few more this season (Philadelphia Half, Las Vegas Half, USA Half, Illinois Marathon, and the Goofy Challenge). At times I have let marathon training consume my life but I’ve finally found a way to balance life and running. After giving it some thought, I compiled a list of things that worked for me and will hopefully get you through marathon training AND allow you to still enjoy your life.
1. Find Your Motivation Why are you running this very long race? What is going to help you get through those miles when you want to quit or cry (or both) because of the physical pain? What are you going to say when people ask why you’re doing this because they think you’re crazy? You gotta have something that means a lot to you! Maybe you want to be healthy? Maybe you want to prove to yourself (or someone else) that you CAN do it? Maybe its that bagel and chocolate milk that’s waiting for you at home? Maybe you want to lose weight (actually that’s easier said than done in marathon training)? Maybe its pictures of Ryan Gosling?
Maybe you like running with friends? Maybe you like shiny medals? Maybe its your quiet time? Maybe you want to raise awareness for a cause? I ran my first marathon with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (now the Team to End AIDS-T2). Not only did it come with a fabulous training program it provided motivation to keep running when it was tough (and let me assure you there will be tough times ahead). Whatever it is that’s going to keep you going-figure it out!
2. Make running part of your schedule Figure out when you can run and make it part of your schedule. Are you a morning person? Set that alarm and get out the door! Are you lucky enough to have a gym near work? Take advantage of that and go at lunch! Like running after work or at night? Do it then. Whatever you can consistently do -DO IT!
3. Schedule your social life around running Not the other way around. We are all VERY busy people. Work, family, church, friends, school, clubs, sleep- all this alone can be hard to manage. Add in 30-50 miles (or more) of running on top of that and you realize there aren’t enough hours in the day! If you feel like you don’t have time for everything, see where you can give a little. Do you HAVE to go to EVERY obligation? See where you can multitask. I often run errands on my runs. Run to the library, get groceries after a run, push your kids in a stroller during the run, run instead of driving/taking the train on your commute. This won’t work for everyone and you may be the smelly person at the grocery store- but figure out how you can manage.
4. Make running friends or better yet make your friends runners Someone recently asked me if I was only friends with runners. I replied "No, but eventually most of my friends become runners." Why is this? Because people want to be part of whatever you’re really excited about! If people see you making positive, healthy choices in life, they want to be part of it. Even better, if you’re friends with runners you can multitask and get your social time in while you run! At the very least your running friends will understand why you show up to brunch all sweaty.
6. Reward yourself You didn’t just run 20 miles for nothing! This goes with motivation-make a deal with yourself. "If I can finish 19 miles today I can get that awesome hot pink tank top I’ve been eyeing all week."
7. Don’t overdo it Injury prevention is important but is difficult because what is too much for one person may not be enough for another. Listen to your body! If there is persistent or sharp pain take time off and possibly see a Doctor. Some people can run many miles every single day but many people cannot. Be sure to stretch after every run! Try to get a/several deep tissue massage(s) (If you are in the DC area I’ve got a great recommendation). Spend quality time with your foam roller. She (or he) will become your best friend-go ahead and name it we won’t judge. Try out an ice bath-its cold but it works!
8. Find the training plan that works for YOU There are so many plans out there how do you choose the best one? Don’t just choose the one your friend chooses. Look at the length of your race and what your fitness level is as well as how injury prone you are. I’ve used a Jeff Galloway program for most of my races. Most of his plans include a run/walk program and only running 4-ish days a week with lower mileage. This is great for beginners. During my last race I used a Hal Higdon plan while still using the Jeff Galloway run/walk method. Unfortunately, I ran too many days and miles on top of strength training and injured myself -making for a very painful and disappointing race.
This year the Goofy Challenge (a half marathon one day and a full the next) provided a scheduling challenge. I knew I needed to get enough miles in but was afraid of injury. On top of that I am doing a few half marathons earlier in season. My plan is to use Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 program (still with the Jeff Galloway run/walk method-I love it!) because it includes a long weekend run with a long-ish run the day before -just like the race will be. I’m treating all my shorter races as long training runs and just having fun! I’ll have to let you know how this works out!
9. Rest Day(s) The most important thing about any training plan and the only way to run in moderation is to REST. Your body needs it and your mind needs it. Let those muscles recover!
10. Take time off After my last full marathon, a very wise running friend told me to take 7 days off before running again. While I was itching to get back to my Nike’s (I wanted to run off that marathon weight gain) I listened and my legs recovered better. You may find after a race you never want to run another one-I certainly did (although obviously that didn’t last long). Take off as much time as you need for your body- and more importantly your mind – to recover. Figuring out splits and times and miles constantly adds a lot of pressure and can lead to burnout. So lighten up and take a break!
11. Schedule your race around your life So what if everyone is doing the NYC marathon (BTW I am so jealous and want to do it too)?! That doesn’t mean you have to. Depending on where you live, running at certain times of the year may be really difficult. When I lived in Chicago I didn’t attempt to run outside in the freezing, ice, and snow covered winters and now that I’m in DC I LOVE winter running but the heat and humidity of the summers make running more than just a couple miles feel like a marathon in itself. Do you hate running hills or know that you won’t have the chance to train on them? Then don’t pick a hilly race. Do you hate running on the treadmill or maybe love it? Keep all this in mind when scheduling your race.
12. Have FUN You’re not going to want to complete 12-18 weeks of training if its not at least somewhat enjoyable. So make it fun! Wear bright clothes and sing silly songs in your head (or out loud-no judgment here). Whatever is fun for you-Do It!
Thanks for reading along and let me know if you’re running Goofy! I’d love to see friendly faces there!!!!