Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stumbling Through 26.2 - Part 4: Getting Back on the Horse

Photo taken right after completing my 9 miles on Sunday.
Summer running = attractive selfies! XD
Marathon training is tough. Not only are you pushing your body beyond its physical limits, but putting in all of those miles to prepare for the big 26.2 takes a LOT of time. It can be hard to be disciplined and stay on top of your training program when all you want to do after a long day of work is spend time with your loved ones, or even just curl up alone with a good book or movie. Sometimes I feel myself dreading my evening runs because there's just so much else I'd like to be doing besides spending two hours running, which leads to me skipping scheduled runs and falling behind in my program. This is my third summer training for a fall marathon, and I haven't once been able to see a program to the T all the way through. Like I said, it is TOUGH.

This June, Orientation came in and took over my life. It's a different kind of event that really requires all of your time and attention, and when you're finally off the clock you're essentially a zombie. (Super props to Brett for putting up with that for the last two summers!) By having such a demanding schedule, I only managed to fit in one 4-mile run a week during the three weeks of Orientation (I was pretty on top of my runs during training, but once the program started it was game over) and it made me feel SUPER guilty even though I knew I had essentially zero energy to spare for the miles my program was calling for. I was falling behind and it was really hard to ignore the nerves that were a result of it.

However, over these last few weeks, I've made an effort to get back on top of it. It's not easy knowing that my program says I should have been running 12 miles on Sunday when I could only really muster 9, but I know I'm not too far off of where I need to be. Distance running is 90% mental, so keeping a positive attitude and continuing to put an effort forth is the majority of the battle. I know I'm not the only one who hates falling behind, and I'm certainly not the only one who has when there's a big race in the near future, so here are some of my tips on how to get back on the running horse when you've fallen off.

Keep Trying

Duh, right? Sometimes the best way to get back on the horse is to suck it up and just do it. Put on your sneakers and just jog around for a mile or two. You might get a kick of motivation and want to go further. The best way to get back into the habit of running is to keep getting out there and running. It's as simple (HA) as that!

Negotiate with Yourself

There are going to be those days where you just can't muster it. Sometimes you can't get yourself out of bed in time in the morning, sometimes you just aren't feeling it after you get home at night, and sometimes life just takes over. When I was working Orientation this summer, I utilized the days I had off mid-week to at least run a little bit. It definitely wasn't as much as I would have liked to be running, but at least it was something realistic that I could commit to.

Now that my schedule is a bit more open I'm running much more often, but there's still some days where I just am not feelin' it. For the most part, I try to suck it up and run anyway, but on the days I can't get out and run due to schedules or other interruptions, I'll trade one of my designated rest days out to make up for the missed run. Sometimes I just need an unscheduled rest day, and it tends to make all the difference! As long as you make an effort to make up your missed runs, you should be okay. However, don't beat yourself up if you have to sacrifice a short run or two all together. Which leads me to my next point...

Don't Skip Long Run Days

Your long runs are 100% your most important runs out of your whole week. These are the ones that should almost never be skipped (and if it is absolutely necessary to skip them, make sure you're making these up!). Your long runs are going to build your endurance enough so that you can cross the finish line on race day, and it will also build your confidence enough to do the same.

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know I do my long runs on Sundays (I usually tweet with the hashtag #SundayRunday), and there's actually a bit of a community that does the same! If you need a bit of a motivation boost to tackling the big miles, check out that tag and join in on the conversation! You'll run knowing that there are thousands of other runners out there tackling their long runs as well, which makes it a little less painful.

Reward Yourself

I talk about this a bit in my Staying Motivated post, but giving yourself a bit of a reward at the end of a long run or a long week of training always helps me get back into the swing of things. Since I'm a huge nerd, I like to put a sticker in my planner next to the runs I completed (I'm essentially still in Kindergarten, and I'm okay with it), and after completing my long runs, I reward myself by eating pretty much whatever I want (really, eating junk food guilt-free is one of the best motivators to get back into the rhythm of training. It's the best! :D).

Don't Push Yourself Too Hard Too Fast

Yes, when you're a distance running you build a solid base of endurance, but when you're trying to get back into your training program after a long break, you need to build your mileage back up gradually. Otherwise, you'll risk injuring yourself. For example, as I mentioned earlier in this post, I was scheduled to run 12 miles this Sunday, but I did 9 instead because I knew I just wasn't ready for 12 yet. Eventually I'll work my way back up to speed with what my schedule is asking me, but for now I'll be patient with what I think my body can handle. You just need to be realistic in what you think you can accomplish while still giving your body a chance to adjust in the longer miles.

Remember to stay positive! Getting back to where you were in your training will take time, 
but you can definitely accomplish it if you just keep going. Good luck!

More of Stumbling Through 26.2: Picking a Plan | The Gear | Staying Motivated

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