Will this training be enough?
This is the question that many runners ask themselves. It doesn’t matter how far or how fast a runner aspires to be, or how much experience they have there will be many moments of questioning.
Am I fit enough? Fast enough? Doing enough? Strong enough? Eating enough?
Runners are constantly wondering if they will be ready for their event. As a coach, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t worried about the same thing. It is my job to stay confident and prepare my clients to be successful at their event.
So what does it take to run a marathon?
In late 2019 my client, Angie (also a fellow coach at Be Well Studio) signed up to run her 10th marathon, The Eugene Marathon. Before she had gotten deep into her training she, like many, was faced with the shutdowns of COVID-19. Her race was canceled. She chose to defer her race entry to April of 2022.
She started training with me officially in the fall of 2021. We had time on our side. Angie has a 12 year running history and so she isn’t new to running. But the marathon distance doesn’t care, regardless of your running background, you have to train to run 26.2 miles. The beauty of working with a coach and not following a training plan found online is we were able to tailor her training to her needs. The last time she worked with me to train for a marathon, circumstances were different. Angie now faces the challenge of an autoimmune condition, hashimotos. Her goals were also different. The last time we trained we had a very specific time goal. This time she just wanted to finish, feel good, and remind herself that even with an autoimmune disease, she can still be a runner.
Her training consisted of 4 runs per week. Only one day a week would she run two days in a row, giving her body time to recover. Tuesdays consisted of either speed work or hill repeats. Thursdays, a 5 mile run at base pace. This means slow, a challenge for many runners. Eventually this run became a tempo run or a run with negative splits. Friday was a short, 2 mile/20 minute recovery run. The weekend she had a long run that progressed in time/distance each week.
The biggest change to her training plan was that she never did run the gold standard 20 mile long run. Her longest run was 18 miles. To add variety to her training, I incorporated a few back-to-back “long” run days in place of the 18-20 mile traditional long run. This decision was made later in her training for a couple of reasons.
She recovered well after long runs, despite her autoimmune condition. Great! This meant we could test the original rule of avoiding back-to-back run days.
It frees up time on the weekends as not having a 4 hour run on a Sunday and instead splitting the run into 2 shorter (10-12 mile runs). This often works better for clients that have active kids/events OR have to deal with poor weather conditions. (Running for 2 hours in the snow is more tolerable than 4!)
Most of all, running for 10 miles the day after running for 12 miles helps condition your legs to run while they are tired. There is no doubt that while running a marathon you will have tired legs. It’s good to practice!
Angie executed her plan with success. Like all runners, there were a few hiccups. A twisted ankle, days where she needed extra rest and had to skip her run, and unagreeable weather conditions. But she completed more than 90% of her training runs, more than a coach can ask for! She trained through the winter months, which is HARD. She did 3 out of her 4 runs per week in the dark, before work. Which takes determination. She experienced a lot of 'news' like training and running mostly by herself and essentially preparing for a race for two years! Two years is a lot of time to lose interest, and she did have moments of lost interest.
Q & A with Angie:
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
Staying committed for that length of time.
Did you find yourself questioning why you signed up at any point?
I never questioned why I signed up, but the reasons for doing it when I signed up were not as relevant by the time the race came around. It became about completing what I had committed to rather than taking some space and time for me.
Did having a coach help you? Or do you think you could have accomplished the same thing without?
I know that having a coach helped me. I would not have run as consistently, with the varying intensities as I did. I would have run, and I would have finished but I would not have been as prepared.
How did you feel about your event in the end?
I feel great about my event. I finished with a smile on my face (mind you there were a few moments of tears during and after!) which was exactly what I wanted to do. I trained without sending myself into an autoimmune flare. I am proud that I finished and at this moment really happy that it is behind me.
Big Congrats to Angie!
Distance: 26.2 miles
Average Pace: 9:33 per mile
Average HR: 153bpm
Black Toe Nails: 1
Dried Mangos Consumed: Approx. 1 mango worth
Running Shoe: Hoka Bondi 7 (5 pairs used throughout the 2 years of training!)
Preferred Sock: Balega Socks
Post Race Celebratory Meal: Chipotle Rice Bowl + Gluten Free Cookie
Interested in training for an event with me? Email me at email@example.com