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How to Start Training for a Marathon

Posted Jul 07 2010 6:14am

The 595th day of my joggling streak begins my training for the Chicago marathon. I’m excited to finally give some focus to my joggling marathon running. Sure, I run every day and the streak keeps me motivated but I’ve been stagnant and a little bored. In case you wonder how you go about figuring out a marathon training program, here is what I did.

You can’t do a marathon without finding a race. Pick one that is at least 4 months away. This will give you enough time to train and since many of them sell out, it will also help make sure you are allowed to do it. Some marathons (like the Chicago marathon) sell out many months before that. In fact, the Chicago marathon opens registration on Jan 1 and is usually sold out before the end of February. For finding a race to run, one of my favorite websites is Marathonguide.com

If you are going to be joggling the race, you should check with the race director to see if it’s ok

Once you find your race, sign up. Do it. Don’t put it off. If you do you will be less motivated to run and you might even miss the registration cut off. Worried that you might not be able to do it? The money you put out for the race will help keep you inspired. I like to register on line because you can often find a coupon code to get a break on the price.

There are a number of different training programs you can follow and it all depends on your current level of fitness and ability. I’ve used lots of different ones and sometimes just made some up. The key runs are these.

1. Fast runs – you run faster than you would for the marathon
2. Long runs – you run distances like 12, 15, and 20 miles
3. Daily runs – you run an easy pace to build up your weekly mileage

You can find a good training program by going to Runners World, Hal Higdon’s marathon training guide , Jeff Galloway’s training programs (walk/run strategy), or the FIRST training program (which features only 3 days of running)

I like to create a spreadsheet to track all of my runs and mileage. This helps keep me motivated and it will work for you too. It’s pretty simple to set up, just make a spreadsheet with five columns. One column is the date, the next is the target distance, the third is the distance you actually ran, the fourth is the time you ran, and the fifth is for notes about how the run went. When you finish a run, update your spreadsheet. Also, keep a running total of the amount of time run and the distance. It’s inspiring. For you non-techno jogglers, this same thing can be accomplished by getting a notebook and keeping track of your information there.

It’s tough to say exactly what will keep you motivated but these two things have helped keep me focused.

1. Tell people about your goal.
2. Work on your goal every day. If you’re not running one day, read about the marathon or talk to others who have done it.

While training for a marathon you may have a lot of “alone time”. I like to listen to books and podcasts but sometimes I just get lost in thought. I’ve learned to enjoy this time alone and can start thinking so much about different ideas, I forget that I’m even running or juggling. You have to find a way to enjoy the process so even if you don’t make it to the marathon (which sometimes happens) the journey will have been worth it.

Joggle on!

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