I‘m training for my third marathon right now. (Gratuitous recaps of first two: Chicago Marathon, New York Marathon.) Before I started running marathons, I never gave thought to how one training cycle could differ from another. I mean, don’t you just run lots of miles every time?
In short, yes, but there’s a few ways that this cycle is different than the first two.
Time. This is the biggest difference. The first and second times around, I had so much more time, even if I didn’t realize it then.
The first time around, I was working at a less stressful job and was out by no later than 6:30 every night. I had less going on after work and less of a commitment to Junior League.
The second time around, I had been laid off and any time I wasn’t searching or interviewing for jobs, I had free to do whatever I wanted. I threw myself into my marathon training because it was a great escape, and because I could.
This time, I’m working more than ever and I have taken on a tremendous Junior League commitment. Time is not on my side, but I’m still making it work.
Commitment. Looking back at the first time, I was not as committed to my training as I should have been. I got my long runs in, but frequently skipped or cut short my during-the-week runs. No wonder I wasn’t ecstatic with my time.
Last year, I stepped up my commitment majorly. I was going to come in under 4:30, come hell or high water. I nailed at least 90% of my workouts and nailed them good. I came in at 4:19, so I’d say this paid off.
This year, I want so badly to break 4 hours. I think about some other things sometimes, but I’m usually just thinking about the marathon right now. Even when I don’t get all my miles in as planned, I find a way to close that gap as much as possible and make sure to get my quality workouts in.
Run more. From reading speed demon blogs, I’ve realized that if you want to run faster, you need to run more. I’m running 5 days a week now and way more miles than I did the first two times around. I’ll occasionally run a double if I need to get miles in. I’m also running back-to-back days a few times during the week, and my legs are totally fine. I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s working for me right now.
Flying solo. Well, sort of. The first time, I was still working out with a trainer, and he helped me design my plan and alter it when necessary. Last year, I worked with a coach. This year, I’m participating in the RW Challenge program. I have access to their coaches to ask questions when necessary, but I’m finding that with my third time on this rodeo, I have fewer questions and need less one-on-one interaction. I know what needs to be done and am more comfortable with shifting workouts when my plan doesn’t fit my schedule. It’s not rocket science.
Morning running. I finally just broke down and started doing it–most of the time. It’s getting much easier to get my runs in now, and I am so happy when I get to work.
What lessons have you learned after your first marathon (or half, or 5K), and what have you changed?