We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.
There are a few places on the globe where the weather is the same almost every day. Unfortunately, I do not live in one of those places.
There are a few people in this world who have very little hardship or stress in their lives. Unfortunately, I do not live one of those lives.
Chances are pretty good that you do not live in one of those places or live one of those lives either!
Sometimes, when you set a goal to start training for something, life happens or weather happens and the training conditions become, shall we say, less than ideal. OK, let’s be real—sometimes, the training conditions will just suck!
When it is too hot for the kids to even go to the pool, it is no fun to be out running. When you get up to run at 5:00am and realize that it is pouring rain outside, it is normal to want to crawl right back into bed and hope for better weather tomorrow.
It is rare that you will get a week of absolutely perfect weather or a week of no personal trials. In fact, if you are waiting for those kinds of weeks, you will never train and you will never reach your goal.
Marathon training is like life; it requires that you train in all conditions and for all situations!
We need to train our bodies and our minds in all conditions and for all situations. This will enable us to face the ups and downs and the storms of life with confidence.
Depending on where and when your planned marathon is being held, you probably have no way of knowing what the weather will be like 18 weeks from now. It could be very cold or very hot (like it was in the 2006 Richmond Marathon, see the picture of me above!), or raining, sleeting, etc…. and the conditions can actually change while you’re in the middle of the race! You just do not know what you will encounter, so you need to be ready for everything.
When conditions are not what you want them to be, you still need to get out there and do your training. Now, I am not suggesting you go running when there is air-to-ground lightening or when the conditions are otherwise dangerous, but you need to decide whether or not the conditions are dangerous or just inconvenient!
There are two reasons I want you get out and run regardless of the weather: Physical conditioning and Mental conditioning.
I am always amazed when I go running through my neighborhood in the early morning rain and do not see the runners I normally see if the weather is nice. I ask myself “what are they going to do if it’s raining on race day?”
Remember that confidence is only gained through experience, and the only way to gain experience is to have gone through a situation. Come race day, you want to be prepared not just to go the distance, but to go the distance regardless of the conditions!
By running in the rain or in the heat or in the cold, you not only learn how to run in those conditions, you also learn about your shoes and clothes, which is almost just as important! You need to know if those shorts cause chaffing if they get wet, or if your socks cause blisters when your feet get wet or very hot. These things are really important to have worked out prior to your marathon.
Even though I want you to train in adverse conditions, I want you to adjust your expectations with the conditions.
When it is very hot or cold or raining hard, you should not expect to run as fast as you would under ideal conditions. To try to push hard in extreme conditions is just inviting injury, which can totally derail your training plan, so pull back the throttle and slow down. It is OK to slow down, but try not to cut your distances short. A marathon is always 26.2 miles regardless of the weather!
What do you do if the conditions really are dangerous?
If the conditions are dangerous to your safety or health, then, by all means, use common sense and do not go out for a run! I do not want you to crawl back into bed, though, because of the mental conditioning that would cause. Instead of running on that day, switch your schedule around and make this a “Cross-Training” day. You will read about cross-training in the next chapter.
Throughout this book, I am going to tell you that, in many ways, the marathon is harder mentally than it is physically. You might not agree with me at this point, but once you complete a marathon, you will see I was right. I have a good friend, who has run 58 marathons in his life, and even he agrees with me!
Mental conditioning is arguably more important than physical conditioning because it is the mental conditioning that pushes you to make the right choices to do the physical conditioning.
No matter what you do, you are always training for something! By skipping a run, you are actually training your brain to do that the next time. If you skip your run today because it is raining, it will be easier to skip your run tomorrow if it is still raining. Your brain will tell your body to do what it did the last time. So if you skipped your run today, your brain will tell your body (in just a quiet whisper) that it’s OK to skip it tomorrow.
Your physical conditioning is dependent on your ability to stay mentally conditioned!
Inertia can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Remember the definition of inertia? “Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its motion” or the phrase “a body at rest tends to stay at rest; a body in motion tends to stay in motion.”
If you give up every time things do not go according to plan… guess what? You are training your body and your brain to give up every time things do not go according to plan! You are actually training to fail!
So when life happens and things don’t go according to plan, don’t give up and say “I’ll just get out there next week” No! Adjust your plan and your expectations, but keep going! Your body and your brain need to be trained for all conditions.
If you will push yourself out the door when you do not feel like it, you will be happier in the long run (pardon the pun). If you keep doing it, you will get used to it and it will be easier the next time and, eventually, it will not even occur to you that the weather is bad!
You can do this! It takes time and conditioning, but you can do this!