Crossing the finish line of your first marathon is an exhilarating experience. Much of the challenge of a marathon is not just on race day but sticking with the training schedule leading up to the race. Managing an intensive running and cross-training schedule for multiple months is difficult, especially when balancing daily commitments.
OrthoCarolina Monroe physical therapist Aaron Hall had time constraints when he signed up for his first Ironman. However, he was determined to become an Ironman finisher. Here are his four tips for balancing a long distance training schedule.
- Involve your partner and family. Communication is key. Before you sign-up for a race, discuss your goal, alongside the time and financial requirements it will require with your partner or family. Being aligned from the start helps ensure a cheering section at the finish.
- Develop a running strategy that sticks. Analyze your normal week and schedule short and long runs, cross-training and rest days in advance. Strategies vary from runner to runner with some preferring morning runs and some preferring late runs. Pick a schedule you can stick with and make it a habit. Your body will get use to the routine. Consider joining a running group, like OrthoCarolina’s 26.2 Brew to keep you accountable to a training schedule and team.
- Rest days are ok. Your body may need an occasional break, try not to feel guilty. When Hall was Ironman training he would arrive at the gym each day at 5 a.m. There were days he would be to worn out to train so he napped instead. Having permission to rest keeps you on track and prevents burnout. If you skip a run, try to make it a shorter mileage day to keep on track with weekly goals.
- Fresh inspiration. Most half and full marathon training programs are a minimum of 3 – 6 months. Avoid mental fatigue and stay focused by mixing things up. Cross-training days are great opportunities to try new workouts or classes. Try training with a friend, explore a different running route or download a new running mix to help the miles go by faster.