Training for a Marathon – How to Stay Motivated
For some people, the motivation to get out the door and run daily comes naturally once they have decided to train for a marathon. For others, the inspiration to stay on track with a marathon running training schedule comes and goes. To benefit of those who may find themselves in the latter group, here are a few suggestions for how to stay motivated while training for a marathon.
Choose the Right Marathon Running Training Schedule
There is a nearly infinite number of different marathon running training schedules out there. Training plans can be found in books on the topic of marathon running training, magazines for runners and at the myriad of running web sites available today. Most major marathon races maintain official web sites with a page devoted to how to train for a particular race.
For the most part, a marathon running training schedules come in three categories;
– Beginner (or novices)
Don’t get caught up in the initial excitement by choosing a marathon training plan unsuited to your individual abilities. In other words, first time marathon runners should stick to a training plan that is tailored to marathon for beginners. To do otherwise is to invite burnout or even worse, injury.
Similarly, intermediates and veteran runners should also choose schedules that fit their experience and abilities. Choosing a running training plan that is too easy and that doesn’t offer a challenge can lead to boredom, and lack in improvement. Which Both of the factors that can contribute to lack of motivation.
Another consideration in choosing a running plan is deciding whether to use a mileage-based or a time-based marathon training program. Some enjoy and find motivation in watching the miles accumulate each training week. For other runners, facing a 10-mile long run can make a run pure drudgery, but the same run in terms of minutes run can make all the difference. Those who don’t already know which approach they prefer might experiment with both systems the first week or so before committing to a schedule they will not be happy with over the next 16-22 weeks.
Lastly, for an advanced runner who hasn’t trained for a marathon in a long while, don’t shy away from choosing a less demanding training plan. At least while going from basic maintenance fitness to marathon training, consider stepping down to an easier schedule. Later, a more challenging schedule can be substituted once greater fitness has been achieved.
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Enter a Few Shorter Distance Running Events
Even though the marathon is the ultimate goal, entering and competing in shorter distance running events is a great way of staying motivated. Substituting a 5K race for a scheduled Saturday’s 3-mile tempo run, or a half marathon for a 12-mile Sunday long run can help keep motivation high.
It doesn’t matter whether you run that shorter event with a goal of achieving a new personal record or just finish it at the same pace as your routine training run. It is a benefit either way in keeping motivation strong. The motivational aspect flows from simply by running with others. Having something on the running calendar to look forward to is a great place to start.
Training for a Marathon With a Running Partner
As far as motivation goes, few things are equal to having a running partner. Some runners prefer running alone. They like the peace and solitude available from gliding along the street or sidewalk spending some quality alone by themselves. Yet humans are social animals, and some of us find running much more enjoyable when done with others.
Perhaps a friend, family member, or significant other can be persuaded to join you in your preparation. If not, consider joining up with a group at a local running club. Running cubs are available in nearly every city and clubs almost always offer pace-based group training sessions. The group runs are typically free for members and available to non-members at a nominal cost.
Remember having someone else to run with helps establish accountability. The days when running seems like the last thing you want to do, a running partner or group can make the difference between accomplishing or skipping a scheduled run.
Marathon Forums to Help Motivation
There are lots of forums on the web these days for runners and practically all have areas devoted to runners training for a marathon. Runners sign on each day and share their experiences with the day’s training, to get advice on handling minor injuries or insight into the latest training techniques.
Similarly to having a real running partner, acquiring virtual running partners via web forums can help a runner benefit for motivation-building accountability. No one wants to sign on and admit that he skipped the run that was scheduled for the day. Reading the success stories posted by other forum members also is a good motivator.
Different people respond differently to the various motivational techniques available. Hopefully, those who sometimes struggle with staying motivated while training will find something of benefit in these tips.
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that eating properly and getting plenty of rest is also beneficial to maintaining motivation. The lack of sleep can sabotage running training by sapping motivation quicker than just about anything. Completing a marathon is one of the greatest feelings of achievement a runner can experience. One of the sure-fire ways to experience that is to stay motivated while training for a marathon.