A marathon training program is usually between 16 to 20 weeks long. Inevitably, changes and challenges will come up during those weeks, so I want to talk about how to handle them as race day approaches.
I know I wrote about how you need to train in all conditions—and that is true—however, life happens and situations change. Running should not be stressful and your training plan is not etched in stone. Keep it high in priority, but be flexible with your training schedule.
You’ve got to learn to roll with the changes!
“Keep on rollin’! Keep on rollin’! Oh, you’ve got to learn to roll with the changes” — REO Speedwagon
When I started my current training schedule it was early Summer. However, Summer blew by and early Autumn was here before I knew it.
Autumn in Virginia is always a time for changes. The kids are back in school; my work schedule is shifting back into a more normal routine; the weather is cooling off and we are getting more rain; and the days are getting shorter, so I am running in the dark more. Lots of changes.
It is our human nature to resist change, but, in order to succeed, we have to adapt as changes come our way.
A big danger we all face as runners is letting these seasonal changes derail our training.
If you ran early in the mornings during the Summer because it was cooler, the kids were still asleep and the sun was just coming up. It is natural to struggle to maintain that schedule come Fall. Now you are up early getting the kids ready for school and it is dark outside. Your normal routine has been disrupted by seasonal and situational changes.
How do you handle these changes? You have to adapt, adjust and roll with it. But do not quit! Change your routine.
Trust in the fact that I am preaching to myself here, too, because I am not immune to these changes and the disruptions to my routine. There are often crazy weeks full of crazy temperature changes, rain and schedule conflicts for my family and, as a result, I do not always get in my mid-week Tempo Runs… such is life. The training schedule is important, but you should never become a slave to it.
Here are just a few simple (and probably obvious) things you can do to adapt to the changes:
Mentally prepare and accept that changes can and will come. Marathons are a mind game and if you emotionally prepare yourself to embrace changes, and even welcome them, your training will still be successful. Shift your marathon training schedule to meet your new life schedule. My work schedule allows me to run after I get the kids off to school instead of before. I prefer to run early in the morning, but this modification works for me. If your schedule allows, you can switch to doing a workout during your lunch hour. Believe it or not, this can actually give you a big burst of endorphins that will make you more productive throughout the rest of the afternoon. Find a way to make it work for you without stressing yourself or your family.
Aside from the schedule changes, plan for the seasonal changes to temperature and light conditions.
Start using a headlamp or flashlight if you are running in the dark. Start dressing for cooler temperatures.
I think you get the points I’m trying to make so I will not belabor the issue.
The biggest point I want to make is this: adapting to changes is necessary. The more you prepare for and accept what comes your way, physically and mentally, the more prepared you will be for your race and for your life!