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Marathon Training & Life Balance
If you've trained for a marathon previously then you know how difficult it can be to fit your training schedule into a busy lifestyle. If you have a family it can be even more complicated. The danger lies in becoming so focused on your training that you neglect other aspects of your life.
This article looks at the need for balance in your life as it relates to your training.
1. Learn From The Pro's
Many professional coaches, in areas like major league sports, martial arts and yoga, stress the importance of the mental side of training as much as the physical. And this is not restricted to the sport itself. Martial arts are an excellent example - they began as a means to personal development, not as a way of fighting or self defense.
2. Marathon Pre-requisites
So let's get specific and talk about marathon running and training. First let's look at the main qualities you need to develop to successfully complete a marathon:
As you can see, even if you possess the first two attributes on the list above, you'll have a very difficult run without the others on the list.
I know an excellent runner who wins his class most times in the 10K distance, and he does really well in marathon training and long 20 mile runs. Yet he always fails in the marathon. Why is this - he certainly has developed strength and endurance? However he has not taken the time to work on his self confidence and perseverance. This is why runners of lesser ability can finish ahead of other stronger marathon runners. Their mental ability is simply stronger...
3. Training Time (or lack of!)
There's an old saying that if the marathon doesn't get you - the training will! The main challenge of training is simply being able to stick with your training schedule. (assuming you have picked the correct program for your running ability see more about this on my Marathon Training Schedules page).
There's many obstacles in the way of completing a 16 week or longer marathon training program:
and the list could go on!
The first place to start?
Do not look at the training schedule and say to yourself I need 'x' hours per day to do this.
If you do this you'll be always struggling to fit in your training runs. The answer is to look at your total lifestyle including the marathon training. Then make the changes necessary to adapt to this.
For example I was training for a marathon one time and had a whole lot of other things to contend with, including a job that sometimes required me to work weekends. When I looked at it I finally found the solution - I made changes to my life style as well as my running patterns.
I went to bed earlier (less TV!) and got up earlier in the morning. I varied my usual running times (lunch hour) to before and after work as well as some lunchtime runs. I became more flexible about my long run day. I also made sure I took the family for a weekend outing - every week!
It's really amazing what you can fit in to your daily life if you are willing to make a few changes. The funny thing is, even after I completed the marathon, I still kept to my new schedule and enjoyed life a lot more.
4. Applying the Lessons
Getting back to he title of this article - Marathon Training & Life Balance, I hope you realize that there's much more to all this than just running a (long) race. The qualities we need to complete the marathon:
- self confidence
...apply to your life just as well as the marathon race. Imagine how successful you could become if you adopted these qualities in your everyday life and work.
During the training we are striving to achieve a balance in our lives between all the competing elements. As I mentioned above the lesson is not to fit in something extra (the marathon program) - instead it is to enjoy a fuller life that includes a marathon training schedule.
5. Final thoughts
Like the martial arts philosophy, marathon running teaches us to integrate the mental and physical aspects of our lives to enjoy a fuller and richer experience. All we need to do is to channel our thoughts in the right way to accomplish what we set out to do. I realize this is not as easy as it sounds but it can done! Try it for yourself and your life experience will be greatly enhanced. You might even run a better marathon!
Mike Stapenhurst, 2012