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Putting Enjoyment Back in Marathon Training

Posted Oct 17 2008 9:13pm

Paint_by_number Remember paint-by-number art?  I used to attempt them as a kid—landscapes, wildlife, portraits.  I hoped the numbered diagram would guide me to create a color-coded masterpiece.  It didn’t take long to forget what color was on my brush and soon some section was the wrong color.  Auugh!   What was supposed to be fun and produce something to remember ended up requiring too much attention, too much frustration, and nothing to show for it,  I’d rather have been playing.

With six plus weeks to go until the Chicago Marathon, the most demanding, intense training is ahead.  This is the same point where in other years my stress increases, I tend to overtrain, try to avoid getting injured, and live guarded.  September and October, the best months for running, surround me, and I let them slip by without fully enjoying them.  Not really the desired outcome of what should be fun getting ready for a thrilling race.

Looking back at my running goals for this year, one is to enjoy running more.  For me that means not letting the mileage, intensity, and a rigorous schedule overshadow the fun of running. 

Running isn’t supposed to be like those paint-by-number efforts, complete with drudgery, stress and a slave to detail.  It’s supposed to have some play, flexibility, and satisfaction in it.    So from now until race day I’m focusing on enjoying the runs, the season, and the anticipation of race day. 

Instead of meticulous running, I’m lightening it up to have a little more fun...

  • Leave my watch at home except for tempo and pace runs
  • Find at least two new trails to take on easy runs
  • Rewards after my remaining 20 milers—Starbucks, a book, and a nap, beginning this Sunday
  • Set two time goals for the marathon—a dream goal and an achievable goal
  • Grant a couple permissions to hit the snooze, roll over and go back to sleep
  • Buy something fun at the expo to remember this year’s race

I want to look back after the marathon and say I had some fun down the final stretch weeks.

Uplifting running post of the week was by Laurie.

"Running has brought many good things into my life. Most importantly, it has greatly improved my mental health. ... I think it helped me give people and other things an opportunity to change my view point."


Hey, Amy runs her triathlon  on Sunday morning. 

Join me in wishing her good luck!


Paint-by-Number on Flickr by Jamie Lee Haas


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