Last Saturday was a tipping point in my marathon training with the schedule demanding I run twenty miles (32.1 kilometres) which is only six miles less than the actual marathon. After about three and a half hours of training and consuming every Gatorade product known to man I had was finished.
Many people asked this weekend how I could do something like that since they have a hard time running one mile. My answer is you have to stick with the program.
See there are lots of different training programs to run a marathon, half-marathon, or even 5k on the internet and though there may be some slight differences each one is basically the same. The main reason anyone planning to run a race (and a marathon in particular) should use a training program is because it takes eighteen weeks to complete. In other words you will be training for almost four whole months in preparation for race day.
Being able to run twenty-miles or the twenty-six of a marathon is really quite simple (note I didn’t say easy) just stick with the program. They are specifically designed to make you stronger over that eighteen-week period so as your endurance builds the confidence will as well; staying with the program is easier said than done though.
I can remember the second week of training Saturday demanded I go nine miles; toward the end that run saw me completely discouraged by my slow time and physically exhausted. Later that evening my heart sank while looking at the hundreds of miles that needed to be completed before my marathon on October 28 and part of me wondered if I could survive it.
Four weeks later I ran another nine miles but this time instead of looking like an insurmountable challenge it was an easy training session which didn’t bother me at all. This is because between week two and week six I had been consistently been going on five and six-mile runs which made it easier to conquer nine considering my runs before where around three and a half miles.
Sticking with the program and growing slowly over time instead of trying to do everything at once allowed me to attack a twenty-mile run at 6:30 Saturday because I had already done 14, 15, 17, and 18 miles in the Saturdays leading up to that day (thankfully there where breaks between them on other Saturdays).
The running program has reminded me that real growth is slow, and strength as well as confidence is only built over a long period of time. It would be insane for me to jump out of bed the day of a Marathon and expect to run it….and just the same its crazy to believe we could overcome the challenges of life overnight.
It’s true that getting a training program and sticking with it isn’t very exciting and quite painful (especially at the beginning) but in the end this involves patience and endurance which are the things which help us truly grow.