The Dog Days of Marathon Training...
When the going gets tough, the tough get going right? Yes, the old saying is correct, especially for us runners. In order to see a marathon training cycle through there will be many early morning runs, runs after work, and maybe even runs on break while at work.
It takes true dedication and sacrifice to see your training through. We are living in a weird time now, an unprecedented time. With COVID-19 spreading across the globe many races and events have been postponed, altered or outright canceled.
What has not stopped however, is our training. Our dedication to our craft has remained steadfast even in the face of a global pandemic. But now with my race finally approaching, I am running into a whole different problem. The dog days of training.
I still feel the dedication. I still get up in the wee hours of the morning to lace them up. But my mind is exhausted. I feel like the race will never come. I feel like the pandemic will get worse and I will have to stretch out my training cycle once again. I feel every mile, every step.
It pains me to admit it, because as people who know me can attest, I pride myself in never getting tired. Mentally or physically. But I am at the point where my mental fatigue has finally started to spill over to physical fatigue.
So I did some assessments on my training and my performance. I noticed that my overall pace has not gotten slower, it has in-fact increased a bit. I checked my breathing and heart rate and they were all in the correct zones, even my resting heart rate.
So I ruled out actual physical fatigue. It was mental.
My mind had gotten tired of the day to day process. The cross training and stretching. It was even tired of eating healthy! So I decided to play tricks on my mind to get myself over the finish line in this training cycle and this may help you as well.
Vary your workouts. Do not do the same run the same way everyday. Change up your routes. Mix in speed in certain sections and work on turn over to increase your cadence (steps per minute, the higher the more efficient). Pull back the pace to maintain comfort and to catch your second wind from a tough stretch. Pay attention to how you feel at different times in the run, take in the terrain that you are running and how your pace and stamina is affected by it. In other words, be mindful on your runs and you will shake the monotony of the normal run.
Experiment with foods on the run. I have left the house for a run with some crazy food in my pouch! I run holding a banana for about two miles then eat it over the next half mile. I have taken Snickers bars, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, and even some Ritz crackers on some runs. The point it, try different things beside just energy gels. You are going to have to eat during the marathon anyways, so you might as well experiment and see what works best for you. Or does not work for you, like that Snickers bar.
Do not be afraid to take a break. I took a vacation not too long ago in this training cycle and I ran one time in a week. We will not lose fitness if we take a break for a few days. It will recharge you and propel you forward. I know my saying is Work Don't Stop, but stopping is sometimes smart and will help you in the long run.
Buy some new gear. Nothing brings joy like a new pair of running shoes. If you do not believe me, you should check out my closet! Headphones is another thing that can get us going for all of us that listen to tunes on the road. Even a new watch can bring back excitement to get back out there and keep going. The key is to keep going forward, and new things, especially pertaining to running make that happen.
Stay consistent. That is the main thing that holds everything together. Stay diligent in your approach, but allow yourself to have fun in your training. Thats what it is all about right, fun? I know, if you are going for a PR or if your getting ready for your tenth marathon it probably does not feel fun anymore but the point is to recapture that feeling.
I came up with these things for myself so that I never lose that feeling. My hope is that my self reflection to pull myself out of the dog days of training will help you stay motivated to push through, even when your mind wants to stop.