The Hardest Part of Marathon Training

Running a marathon is no easy task — and what I think is actually harder than running a marathon is training for it.  I’ve run a marathon on zero training, and now my next goal is to cut an hour off of my marathon time by actually training.

So many things go into training for a marathon — but personally I believe there’s one aspect that is way more difficult to overcome than the rest.  Is it buying all the (right) gear? Picking the right training plan? Choosing the marathon to run? Learning to fuel your body right? Actually putting in the miles?

While all of those things might be considered the hardest for some people, personally I don’t believe any of those things are actually the hardest part of training for a marathon.

For me, motivation is the hardest part of training for a marathon.  It’s easy to go put the miles in, but it’s hard to actually get up and go.  It’s easy to move forward, but it’s hard to keep moving forward when you’re tired or bored.

I’m motivated to run another marathon – and I’m motivated to improve my marathon time, but I struggle so much with motivating myself to train for it.  I know I need to train — but it’s so much easier to stay in bed or to only run two miles instead of ten.

I’ve been recently trying to challenge myself by finding different ways to motivate myself.  Today it was treating myself to a latte if I ran more than five miles.  Other days I’ve treated myself with eating at a western restaurant for dinner, or doing a different activity.

Normally I’m someone who is much more intrinsically motivated, and things don’t motivate me as much.  However, I’ve been struggling with that here in China.  I don’t really have the same support system here, and I lack friends who are interested in running the types of activities I did back home.

So here’s a question for my friends, family, and anyone else who is awesome enough to follow my blog:  How do you motivate yourself?  How do you stick to that regular schedule? How do you just get out there and do it?

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瑜伽 (Yoga)

This morning I went to a Yoga class in a small studio located in the apartment building directly behind where I live.  I had been communicating with the instructor via WeChat for the past few days, and she gave me a free lesson to come check out her classes.

The instructor, Stella, spoke almost no English.  She told me that before class she had looked up the words for inhale, exhale, and down dog.  It was definitely a little awkward when I first met her — my Chinese is no better than her English.  Communication was incredibly difficult.

Turns out it was just me showing up for the class this morning — so the class turned into a private lesson.  I quickly realized how much of my flexibility I had lost when I struggled with many of the more simple poses.  Stella was very patient with me, and thankfully did a lot of hands-on adjustments.

Even though it was a much more mentally challenging yoga practice today, I’m so happy I went.  I forgot how much of a mood-booster yoga is for me and it’s amazing how refreshed I feel after a good yoga class.

 

Setting Goals and Moving Forward

I found myself unhappy the other day.  I truly felt unhappy.  There was so much smog walking around outside was miserable, and the sun was nowhere to be found.

I had spent the previous day napping and watching movies, and I was finding that every little thing that wasn’t going correctly was making me irrationally angry.  I was incredibly irritable and I knew something was wrong.

This may seem to many like one of the stages of culture shock — but I don’t think it is.  In the past year I keep finding myself in these little funks where nothing seems to be going right. Thankfully, I’m able to notice them pretty quickly and I can work my way out of them.  I think they come on when I start falling short of my goals and start settling with where I am — when I know I can do so much more.

So it’s time to do something about it.  I’m working on my writing, working on making sure I go above and beyond for my clients — so I can keep a steady stream of freelance/ghostwriting while I’m here.  I’m trying to better develop myself as a teacher – trying to figure out what really works for me in the classroom.  Finally I’m focusing on my fitness.  I think this is what’s been hurting me the most.  I’ve been so lazy recently — and that needs to change.

I’ve decided to sign up for Beijing Spartan Sprint in, well, Beijing next month — and I’m planning on running the Rock and Roll Marathon in Chengdu in October.  These trips will not only give me motivation to focus on my running and overall fitness, but they will also give me an opportunity to explore new cities in China.

I’m more motivated than I ever have been since I’ve been here, and I look forward to what I can accomplish in the next few months!

Twenty-Six Point Too Little Training

Eight days ago I ran my first marathon.

I signed up for the Walt Disney World Marathon on a whim. When I noticed the half marathon and the marathon were the same price, my only thought was “I can get an additional 13 miles for the same cost!”

I feel like most people usually aren’t excited by this thought, but I was ecstatic. So I signed up.

This was about 3 months out, plenty of time to train, right? Yeah, well I didn’t. Whoops. I’m extremely excellent at being unprepared for physical events.

The night before the marathon, I had told Scott, who was running with me, that I had no intention on finishing. I had maybe run a solid 2 miles consecutively in the past three months, and was no where in the shape to run 26.2 miles. I told Scott I’d be happy to make it to the half marathon point, and then wouldn’t really mind being falling behind pace and being swept off the course. I had accepted my fate.

The morning of the Marathon it was cold. 37 Degrees. To us in Florida, that’s like how we imagine the arctic must feel. It took an hour before our corral was over the start line, and my body did not want to warm up.

My goal from the start was to stay ahead of the 6:30 pace group that was behind me. If I could keep them behind me until the half marathon point, I’d be great — maybe I could actually make it to mile 15 before getting swept from the course.

Well I hit that half way point in Animal Kingdom, and I was feeling pretty good. I could see the pace group behind me, but I figured I’d keep it up as long as possible.

They eventually passed me at mile 17, but I was still moving forward. The amount of people on this course made it very beginner friendly, and very easy to stay motivated and moving forward. I met all kinds of new people, and would try to pace myself with others just to keep my spirits high.

It was at mile 20 when I looked up at the clock and realized I had two hours to make it six more miles. I started crying. It was in this moment that I knew I was going to finish.

marathonI completely walked those last 6.2 miles, and I finished the dang race. I probably looked like death — I sure felt like it — but I finished it.

I’m incredibly humbled by the experience, and it’s such an amazing thing to push your body to do something you were sure it wouldn’t accomplish.

I definitely want to do another, but I’m thinking I’ll probably train for the next one.

via Daily Prompt: Marathon