I remember the first time I trained for a marathon. I had run a few 5Ks and thought I was ready to tackle 26.2 miles. Who wouldn’t, right? I got up to about 16 miles in my very informal training and decided that I had everything I needed to finish a marathon. Boy, was I wrong. I ran a 20 miler three weeks before the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006, got injured, and scrapped my marathon running dreams for that year. It was a wake-up call. You just can’t wing marathon training and expect to achieve your goal.
That following New Year’s Day, I made a resolution to train smarter.
As you begin your training for the 2017 Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon (CCIM), learn from my mistake: Find a formal training guide and dedicate your running to it. Whether you are a first-time marathoner and just want to finish, an experienced half marathon runner looking to PR, or a 5K runner making a lifestyle change, you need a plan for reaching your objectives.
There are plenty of training plans out there that can put you on the right path. You can find free ones online or in the running section of your local library, or you can pay for training manuals, like I did, that might help you reach a specific goal.
Hal Higdon, one of running’s most prolific writers, offers free training guides for most common race distances on his website. He has run eight Olympic Trials, won four world masters championships, and finished 111 marathons, winning four of them. His PR in the marathon is 2:21:55. He has been writing about running for decades and is a well-trusted source. Hal was a special guest and featured speaker at the 2014 CCIM.
Jeff Galloway is another trusted source for training guides. He is a U.S. Olympian in the 10K, author of Galloway’s Book on Running, and founder of the Run Walk Run method of training. His website provides free training guides for most distances and abilities.
Whatever training guide you use, and there are many to choose from, stick to it. A plan keeps you accountable to something. As winter deepens and finally gets cold here in Central Illinois, I know I need something to motivate me to get out of bed in the morning.
Training buddies are another source of accountability. If you’re just starting out and looking to finish your first Presence Health Illinois 5K, finding others of your level might seem an insurmountable challenge. Local running clubs in your area can be an amazing source of inspiration, running companions, and training advice. You are not alone, and you need not reinvent the wheel.
And if you’re a lone-wolf runner, and I used to be one, be sure to share your training goals with friends and family. Accountability keeps you honest with yourself and others.
I’ll leave you with this video of the one (and perhaps only) woman to train for a marathon and not tell anyone about it. Maybe that ought to be my resolution this year.
See you on the roads!