While I by no means consider myself fast, I have been able to chisel a bit off my marathon times. I remember distinctly finishing the Paris Marathon in 4:36 and thinking, with some training I knew I could run a 4 hour marathon. Six months later I finished the Hamilton Marathon in 4:04. The only difference? I committed myself to the goal and stuck to a plan. Sure, a bit of speed work helps, but really what it really boils down to, is that you have to run more. My tired legs had to be comfortable running. To do this, I stopped skipping my mid weeks runs and making excuses as to why I cut my weekend long run short.
Prior to that, I had gone about running in a fairly lackadaisical manner. Running when I felt like it and not really taking races seriously. Sure, I always finished, but I rarely felt I gave it my all. Proving to myself that hard work does pay off (as cheesy as that sounds) has fueled my current marathon aspirations – training for a 3:45 marathon and one day qualifying for Boston.
When things get busy, I adjust my schedule and I’m out the door at dark-o-thirty. That way, if I work late, or have limited energy in the evenings, I will have already completed my run for the day. Yes, 4:45am wake ups took some getting used to, but anyone can become a morning person (and I promise it’s worth it). I’ve also started doing more strength and cross training. Yep, remember my goal back in January to do more of those things? I’ve moderately stuck to it. Swimming, IronStrengh, spin class: I love to mix things up.
With that said, there are definitely days that I don’t feel like running. Those are the times I’ve become better at overcoming. Whereas before I probably would have skipped the day, I can now say that I rarely miss a scheduled run. I’m driven by my DREAM BIG goals. It may just feel like 1 run (who cares, right?), but things add up (or down…)
I’m also a firm believer in getting a coach. While you may think you know what’s best for you, having an expert/outside opinion can do wonders. I respond well to handing the reins over to someone I trust to plan my workouts. I used to stress wondering if X training plan I found online was working for me. Long story short (including overtraining, injuries, ill planned speed work sessions), I’m not convinced cookie cutter plans are ideal. It’s useful to have *some* customization to your current fitness, race goals, and general coaching feedback.
What helps you reach your goals?