2012 Renewal — Establishing good habits to complement a marathon training plan

Mark Russell is one of the owners of Metro Run and Walk and is an avid walker and runner.

Mark Russell is one of the owners of Metro Run and Walk and is an avid walker and runner.

Tale of the Tape Through Week Four

Weight:  January 1 = 189, January 29 = 183.   4 weeks,  loss of 6 lbs. Ahead of 1 lb per week pace.

Mileage: Week 4 run/walk miles: 40.1.  Average weekly mileage: 37.6. Above target min of 35 mi/wk.

Establishing good habits to complement marathon training

One of the best things about having a goal race and specifying a detailed training plan is that the road forward is known.  On a given day, I know what I need to do to stay on track.  But, that does not always make it easy, and for some, the training schedule becomes the enemy.  It does not have to be!

Here are three tips to try – I find they help me stay on schedule and increase the benefit and enjoyability of my training.

Add productive time to your day

Before this 2012 Renewal, I was having trouble ‘getting my runs in’.  Cutting it too close with my wakeup time, letting the ‘to do’ list keep me at my computer a bit too long, taking care of one more thing at the store, etc.  In past years (and when my kids were young), I would always take care of my run first thing in the morning before the house got up and going as we scrambled to get the kids ready for school and ourselves ready for work.  That way I knew I could always get it done.  While my schedule is more flexible now, that actually works against me, since I can always put my run off until later in the day (which often meant it never happened).  This year I am gaining some more productive time so I have time to do everything I need to from day to day.  I now set my alarm for 5am Monday-Thursday and 7am Friday-Sunday and have moved my bedtime up by about an hour.  I do this because in the past my post-dinner relaxation often turned into a too-late TV show and an extra nightcap / snack.   The worst days were when I worked the store until closing, had dinner at 9, often not getting to bed until midnight. For me, trading that ‘wasted’ hour staying up too late for a nice productive morning hour has worked great.  For you, it could be different, like changing how you use a lunch break, or shifting your work hours 3 days a week to carve out a pre-dinner workout. 

Specify some rewards and consequences

As I stay on track, I am treating myself to scheduled massages, a celebration weekend getaway trip, and other things I especially enjoy.  But only if I stay on track!  Give it a try – you will find these are moments when you feel proud of what you are accomplishing and it will give your forward momentum an extra boost.

On the flip side, I have some consequences if I stumble.  Since weight loss is an important component of my Renewal year, I have a corrective response if I miss my Sunday morning weigh-in target.  I eat extra lean and go alcohol free Monday-Wednesday until back on track.  Not fun, but effective.

Just do the workout

I learned an important mindset over the years that helps me make the most out of a well-designed training plan — just do the workout that is in the plan.  Two examples:

When I was considering trying to qualify for Boston in the early 2000s, I chose a training plan specifically designed to get me to my 3:30 time goal (3:42 was my previous best).  It was a wicked plan.  Published in Marathon and Beyond, a terrific content-rich running magazine, it bypassed the common approach of emphasizing a lot of slow miles with some targeted speed training to result in 26.2 miles at goal pace on race day.  This plan emphasized A LOT of miles at goal pace or faster.  The workouts were very tough, but I had my head right.  They were my workouts, so I would do them and not keep dwelling how hard they felt (which is the first step to convincing  myself I should back off).  It worked, I ran Kiawah in 3:29:32.

While an employee of Metro Run & Walk in 2008, I had the pleasure of working with Nikeya Green, a fabulous runner who placed 12th in the 800 meter Olympic Trials that year.  She had just returned from competing in a meet in Europe.  As she was returning to the States, her travel schedule resulted in a run/fly/run/a little sleep/work/run sequence over a period of 36 hours.  I asked her why she didn’t skip a run or two for some more sleep.  She said simply, “Because those were my workouts.”

Good reasons to skip or modify workouts are illness, injury, or overtraining.  But don’t let the devil on your shoulder convince you to skip or alter your workout just because it is hard work, or too hard to fit into your busy day. 

Next week you’ll hear my confessions as a reluctant cross-trainer….

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2 Responses to 2012 Renewal — Establishing good habits to complement a marathon training plan

  1. Ben Emmons says:

    Thanks for sharing…my miles are always way up but this article reiterated something I have been thinking for a year or so…MORE MILES NEED TO BE AT GOAL PACE! Until I commit to more speed workouts then Boston is simply a pipe dream! I need to get two months older and take 12 minutes off!

    • metrorunwalkspringfield says:

      I hear you. And them changing the Boston qualifying times makes it even harder. If you wanted the 3:30 training schedule with these long hard miles just to see the approach, I can send you a pdf. email me at MetroRunWalk.Mark@gmail.com. Thanks!

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