Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Know I'm Preaching To The Choir, But ...

A fellow runner tweeted yesterday an acquaintance of hers said "people need to realize training for a marathon has no real world function." Obviously, as a runner, I took offense to this, but it got me to thinking: "Does marathon training have real-life applications?"

I realize I am preaching to the choir with this post, but after some in-depth thinking - most of it during my 5-mile run this morning, I came up with some good real-life applications for marathon training. Granted, I wouldn't call myself an expert on this subject since I'm in the tapering stage of my first full marathon (T-minus 3 days!!!). However, I've learned a great deal about myself during the past 16 weeks in training for my 26.2 jaunt.

Time Management
Training for a marathon takes a lot of time, and it also varies from person to person depending on their average pace. For example, I average 9:30 to 10 minutes per mile on my runs shorter than 13.1 miles, but as the runs get longer, my paces grows to 10:30 to 11:30 minutes per mile. For a 20-mile training run, it takes me around 3.5 hours to finish. A number of people I know are done with the full 26.2 miles and got in a few extra cool down miles by that time.

In order for me to get my miles in, planning is crucial. I need to make sure I can block out enough time to get the run in as well as allow for recovery time. Sometimes, it means I'm getting up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. on a Saturday (my college self is crying at that statement) in order to get the long run in.

The old adage goes: "If it's important to you, you will make time for it." And that is so true. If running is important to you, you will make time for it. It also helps you prioritize the rest of your calendar, lining up what is most important while weeding out unnecessary or time-sucking activities.

Along with time management is flexibility. Unless you are a professional runner and/or training for the Olympics, it is impossible to stick perfectly to the training plan. Life happens.

Jobs get in the way. Family emergencies happen. Unexpected travel pops up. These can all throw your training schedule for a loop.

Some days you can get your run in first thing in the morning, while other days you have to sneak in a run at lunch or even just before bed time. If you're really 'lucky,' you'll get to follow a late-night run with a early-morning run.

Life does not always go according to plan, and neither does your marathon training plan. You have to be flexible and adjust.

Well, DUH!

Marathon training forces you to change your diet. Don't believe me? Then you eat a nice, big, fat, greasy meal and then go for a next long run the next morning. Trust me, you'll be hating yourself.

It is a must to change your diet while marathon training in order for your body to perform at its best. Consequently, you will improve your health. Real-world application? Better health/nutrition equals longer life.

Overcoming Obstacles
Training for a marathon is hard, especially training for your first one. Add to that the course the race has, the challenges can add up. For example, hills. Some runners hate, down right loathe them. Others, like myself, embrace and enjoy the challenge.

Sometimes a hill is difficult to overcome. You have to labor your way up, slowing down to walk. But after time as you continue to train, you are able to run up and over the run with relative ease.

The drive and focus required to overcome hills when running is the same drive and focus needed when facing everyday obstacles. And once you have the knowledge that you can overcome, you become unstoppable. Sure you might suffer setbacks, but you learn from those and attack it another day. You don't give up because you know you can do it.

Sets Up Success
Training will set you up for success. You get whatever you put into it. The beauty of marathon training is that race day is essentially a victory lap. All the hard work is over. If you have trained properly, you should have no worries come race day. If you've cut corners along the way, it will be made cleared that you had.

Marathon training is a blueprint of how to get you from the start line to the finish line. If you follow it properly, you should have no problems making it across the finish line.

Same applies to life. Do things the right way, pay attention to the details, you will succeed. Cut corners here and there, skip a few steps, the reward will not be as great ... if you even get a reward.

These were a few of the thoughts I had. I could likely go on and on. The main point I want to get across is there is more to running (in this case training for a marathon) than simply running, and lessons learned from training are applicable across the board.

What are your thoughts? How do you apply marathon training to everyday life?

Happy running!


  1. Best of luck on your race! I'm impressed at your commitment and follow-through. I think all of your points for real-world skills learned through training are extremely valid ones.

    1. Thank you for your comment and compliments. Truly do appreciate them.

    2. this is a awesome article Jay thanks Percy

  2. LOVE it!! Good luck and enjoy your marathon!! :)

    1. Thanks, Zaneta! I intend on making my marathon a 4.5-5 hour party :-) Going to enjoy the journey.

  3. Great post; it's also great that this training cycle has been such a learning experience for you. ... And congrats on your race. Can't wait to read about it!