So you want to run an endurance race but you’re hesitating to commit. What’s stopping you? Are you nervous to register? Are you afraid you’re too busy or that you won’t be able to do it? BEEN THERE! Hesitating to pull the trigger to register for a 5k, a 10k, half marathon or a full marathon is really, very common. It’s can be an overwhelming time commitment and if you're a new (or even established) runner, a half marathon or a full marathon may seem impossible and torturous. (I’m not going to lie to you; it’s a little like torture. But in a fun - look how awesome I am, oh my god I did it! Type of torture.) Not sold? Let me see if I can’t help you admit that you are 100% capable of running a half or full marathon.
1. Plan Everything Ahead
Hey, I work at least 10 hours a day and I don’t even have a family I have to go home to, but I understand the time commitment. When do you squeeze in training runs between taking the dog for a walk, making dinner, doing laundry, going to work, making a science fair project for your kids, etc. etc. etc.? You plan ahead. After signing up, you have a training plan. (Not sure where to find a training plan, let RunKeeper help! Download the app onto your smart phone and find the training plan you need.) Once you have your plan you will have a good understanding of how your weeks are going to progress. Plan every single daily workout and when you are going to do them. Actually pencil into your Google calendar your training runs so you know you are going to make them happen. They become a priority. (And often they are the things you look forward to during your day.)
2. Use Your Mornings
Some days you may have to get up ungodly early to get out and run. Does it suck? Yes. Yes it does. Running before work is one of my least favorite activities ever. (CLICK HERE if you need help getting out of bed in the AM.) But on really busy days, if I know I only have 30-45 minutes I break my run up. If I have to do 6 miles I will do 3 in the morning and 3 after work. I do all of my weekend long runs first thing in the morning because if I don’t I just won’t do them. I’ll get “too busy” or find something better to do. I hope out of bed, put my clothes on, eat, foam roll, and take off. I’m out the door within an hour. It sucks to wake up early on the weekends but to be honest, it’s worth it because you feel great all day long. (And you get to cheat at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.)
3. Train Smart
Do your best to incorporate strength training, cross training, and dynamic stretches before and after you run. Run hills and intervals (Not sure what interval training means or how to do it? CLICK HERE) Will you be just fine logging miles? YES! But your race will be a lot easier if you train smart and avoid injuries.
4. Prepare for Speed Bumps
So you missed a workout or two because life happened, IT’S OK! There are going to be speed bumps, the important thing is to not get discouraged. People get sick, you have work obligations, or maybe you just would rather sit on the couch and enjoy 30 minutes to yourself. It’s ok. It happens. Just keep going forward. Forgive yourself and get back out the door.
5. Know Your Fitness Level
The first step to completing an endurance race is understanding where you stand right now. Figure out just what your current pace is and choose a training plan that compliments you. Trust me, you’re going to be challenged training and if you overwork yourself you are just going to get injured and discouraged. It’s ok to run slow! If you’re a new runner, choose a beginning training plan! I’m the Queen of choosing the sub 3 hour marathon training plan (even though I have yet to run a 4 hour marathon to date.) It leads to injuries every time. Don’t be like me. Instead of focusing on what you aren’t, focus on where you’re at and how you are going to get to the finish line.
6. Set a Goal and Make it Realistic
Running your first marathon? AMAZING! Make that goal to finish or to run the entire thing. Running your first half marathon? DO THE SAME THING. Time goals are wonderful, I don’t think it’s a terrible thing to go in with one, just make one of your goals realistic. If you are running 10 minute miles, a 2 hour half marathon may be a tiny bit ambitious. BUT HEY! Why not! It took me a few tries to break 2 hours and it kept me motivated to go back and do it again. So live your life and don’t let anyone discourage you! Everyone’s different, just listen to your body and figure out what motivates you and helps you across the finish line.
7. Remember Why You Run
We all run for different reasons but the thing that lights a fire under my ass are what I wanted to run from. They keep me running and pushing myself. I run to keep my weight in check, I run because it makes me happy, I run because it clears my mind, and I run because it reminds me of what I am capable of. So when I second guess myself I remember all those things and I say, “Who knows if I can but I have to try!”
8. Give Yourself Time
Can you crash train an endurance race? Yes. Should you? No. It’s dangerous. Give yourself time to train. Start slow and work your way up. It’s so much easier to get discouraged or quit if you cram in a bunch of miles and then exhaust yourself. But if you give yourself enough time to slowly progress to those long, long runs, they won’t be as intimidating and your fitness level will be ready to tackle them. You can do it, just start slow and work your way there.
9. Run Alone, With a Buddy, With a Group, or With a Charity
I tend to do all of my runs alone. I did 90% of my 2014 TCS NYC Marathon training by myself and 100% of my training for my first marathon alone. Because I have such a busy schedule, it’s easier for me to throw my gear on when I can find the time and take off. That being said, I ran the NYC Marathon with the charity Team For Kids and having the network of support and doing long runs with a team was really incredible. It helped me push through when I would normally quit early. Every week we received an email from our coaches breaking down that week’s training plan along with tips, tricks, and training/fundraising advice. We had a network of people who were available to inspire, motivate, and calm nerves. If you really are nervous about running an endurance race my #1 tip is to do it with a charity. But you can do it alone. Just don’t be afraid to reach out to different networks to do group runs if you are feeling stale or bored. Find what works for you but continue to try new things.
Finding time and making sacrifices are hard. You’re going to spend a lot of time with a sore body. Continue to smile. When you’re 10 miles into a long run and it’s incredibly hot or cold, smile and remember that you’re doing something incredible. You have to train uncomfortably so race day isn’t uncomfortable. Pain is temporary. Keep going forward. It’s just one foot in front of the other. Smile. Smile. Smile.
Pull the trigger. The time is never going to be right and you’re never going to be as ready as you’d like to be. But you can do it. Of course you can do it. There’s not much we aren’t capable of, running an endurance race is just one of those things everyone should do. If you’re running from something or if you have something to prove, run. It’s only 3-6 months of your life and I can guarantee you will be a changed person. What are you waiting for? Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.