Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Not sitting around eating bon-bons: How marathon training gets done

I've had a number of people say to me that they wish they had the time to workout or run. Or that they envy the fact that I have the time to train for the marathon. As my friend Jenny says, it's not as if we're sitting around eating bon-bons all day. I don't just have an inordinate amount of free time (although the winter vacation was wonderful): I am a full time grad student and I work part time as well. The other people I know who are training for marathons or triathlons are busy people too: parents of many kids, administrators, etc. But we've all found a way to make it work.
Given that it's the new year and people are hoping to achieve those resolutions (and make them last beyond Valentine's Day - as one friend put it), I've decided to reveal a couple of my methods for squeezing in marathon training with my medieval life. They are not highly advanced or brand-spanking new, but they've worked for me and others too.
Workout in the morning: Get up and get going. Okay, I only get up at 4 on marathon morning, butI do get up early to run. Waiting until after school or work often results in "I'm too tired now and just want to relax." Have a quick cup of coffee or juice, and get out the door. If you get up to do it, it's done before work. And, bonus, you are going to feel great the rest of the day. Endorphins are kicking in, and you can already feel accomplished by the time you head off to work. Accomplishing one thing leads to another success, right? Looks like a great day already.
Lay out your clothes the night before: Mom was always right. Putting out your workout clothes and the work clothes the night before shaves off so many minutes in the morning as you try to grab things to wear, bleary-eyed and dazed. Have open on your computer to check out the forecast the night before. I even prepare my coffee pot so I just have to turn it on in the morning as I get ready. Time is a gift, and all of that gives me extra time in the day.
Plan plan plan: Once you schedule something, like a meeting, you stick to it. Plan running/working out like a business meeting: no excuses. Once you give it priority, like the other things in life, it magically becomes easier to stick to. Make it as important as a meal, meeting, or what have you, and somehow, it fits in. My dad and I were talking this morning (we went to the gym together to workout at 6AM) about this. He said he was having his trouble getting up this morning, but he knew that we were meeting peoples, so he didn't want to back out. Works every time! When Jenny and I worked together over the summer, we used to meet up in the morning in order to hold each other accountable. Now we sometimes e-mail each other in the morning to let the other know that we made it out of bed and about to head out the door. You never want to lose face, right? So plan ahead and tell someone else. Or better yet, workout with someone, which is very fun.
Don't beat yourself up when you can't do it: Things happen - kids get sick, we get sick, pager beeps at 2AM, term paper is due the next day. I do not run every day (generally 5 days a week). I am not superhuman and I know that missing a run will not kill me. It's just not realistic to expect every run to go well or to even happen. So don't be too harsh on yourself when something goes awry. Readjust and move on.
Recognize your victories: Whether it be a race PR, bumping up mileage, increasing the number of days you exercise, there is reason for celebration. What you're doing is an achievement - you're pushing your body and staying healthy. Not everyone has figured out how to do that, so pat yourself on the back. It's not easy, but it's worth it.
I'm not saying you have to go out and do a marathon right now. But you really can find the time in your busy life to run or swim or exercise. Somehow I managed to - and without the bon-bons!

1 comment:

  1. Dude, you are so friggen inspirational. I am gifting myself a gym membership tomorrow and will try to jog a mile in the first month or so - we'll see how it goes!