11 Keys for a Successful Marathon Journey

22 05 2011

Courtesy of Bob Potts Marathon

By Coach Jenny Hadfield
For Active.com

If you Google ‘marathon training,’ you’re likely to come up with thousands of pages of information about how to have a successful marathon journey. It can be almost as overwhelming as the thought of training for your first marathon. There is plenty of how-to information out there, so I wanted to go over the 10 traits every marathoner should develop on their way to the start line.
Post it in a highly visible area like the fridge and refer to it when you need a fresh dose of perspective. Like a supportive training partner, it will remind you that it’s all about the journey and not the destination and that some of the best marathoning moments are likely to happen on the way to the start line.
Realism
Start from where you are in your fitness level to get to where you want to be safely (the finish line). The fastest way to a successful marathon journey is down reality street. The first week of the training plan should closely match that of your current training. If not, find one that does.
Perspective
Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Every marathon season starts with the very first step. Tomorrow’s workout will lead to the next and soon 6 miles will turn into 14. And you’ll know you are on your way when you use the words “only” and “6 miles” in the same sentence.
Gratitude
It takes a village to train a marathoner. Surround yourself with a community of people who will support you from start to finish (seasoned marathoners, running store experts, massage therapist, your spouse or friends). Take the time to communicate with your family and friends the importance of this journey as well as the significant time commitment. You’ll need support along the way, and if they know what it means to you, they will be there for you.
Progress
Track your workouts, feelings, weather, apparel, foods, mishaps, and anything else you can think of along the way. You are writing your own marathon novel and keeping track of the details can help boost your confidence later in the season.
Mindfulness
Every long training workout is an opportunity to rehearse for race day. Fine-tune your pre-race meals, on-the-go fluids and fuel. Most importantly, decide what you’ll wear. This will help you be less frazzled and more mindful on race week.
Perseverance
Not every workout is going to be a joy. In fact, you’re likely to miss a few training runs along the way. The key is consistency and keeping the momentum flowing. The marathon training plan is a blue print that you can modify to fit your journey to the start line. Be flexible along the way. A short workout is better than none at all.
Humility
It won’t officially be a marathon training season with out at least one workout that knocks you off your feet.  We learn some of our greatest lessons from the most adverse training sessions.
Faith
Tapering is to marathoning as sleep is to life. Adding to your training planin the final few weeks in hopes to do some last-minute cramming only takes away from your race day performance. Occupy your mind and rest your body. You will likely perform as well as the quality of your recovery.
Reflection
As you make your way through the final weeks of training, feelings of shear and utter fearcan creep into your mind. “This seemed like a great idea a few months ago,” you may say to yourself.  This is the time to review your training log, focus on a few strong workouts during the season, and have faith in your preparation. It’s what going to get you through to the finish line.
Patience
It is easy to get caught up in the excitement on race morning, especially with your well-rested body. The secret to a beautiful finish line photo is to be the tortoise rather than the hare. Pace yourself early, hold back the reigns, and invest in the final 6 miles(the second start line). Being able to pass people in the final miles of a race (nicely, of course) is one of the most inspiring feelings. Your legs will be fatigued, but you’ll feel like a superhero.
Celebration
It is better to define your success by the magnitude of the accomplishment, than the minutes on a clock. Fast or slow, we all make our way to the finish line with our own two feet. Celebrate every finish and appreciate your marathon journey.

Coach Jenny Hadfield is an Active Expert and the co-author of the best-selling Marathoning for Mortals, and the Running for Mortals and Training for Mortals series. She is also a columnist for Women’s Running and Runners World.

Coach Jenny has trained thousands of runners and walkers with her training plans. Improve your running performance or train for your next event with Coach Jenny’s Active Trainer Plans. You can ask her a training question on her Ask Coach Jenny page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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