Day 146: Lessons I’ve Learned During Marathon Training #3

Here we are at the end of November, and we all know what that means! It means that in nine days I (and a lot of other people!) will be running the California International Marathon!

I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned during training.

Lessons I’ve Learned During Marathon Training #3:

  • Focusing on endurance over speed really does work. I admit it. I used to have a strong bias toward thinking of running as racing. In other words, assuming the satisfaction and value of running is tied to the speed at which I run. During this training cycle, I have embraced slow running more than ever. As a result, I have run further in training than ever before (completing 20-, 23-, 26-, and 27.5-miler training runs). These runs were quite a lot easier and easier-going than I would have thought. Also, embracing endurance over speed will be essential for me in successfully running the California International Marathon next weekend.
  • I really enjoy solo training. Last Fall I had many great experiences in the group experience training for CIM. This year I have really enjoyed training on my own, working with the Galloway program and handling every step of the process, from creating my calendar to planning each weekend’s long run. I found the solo runs to be calm and contemplative, which was perfect. At the same time, I have also gone on runs and with my running buddies, so I have had plenty of good times with friends. I have even kept in contact with last year’s training group. All in all, this year’s training style has really suited me.
  • Walking breaks really pay off. The walking breaks have helped, not only for me physically, but also for my mindset. I am glad I have been open-minded. Walking breaks allow for a gentler marathon-training approach. I will be using walking breaks during CIM, thus putting the Galloway system to the test. Side note: it was really nice to run fast for yesterday’s Run to Feed the Hungry 5k, taking only one short walking break in the middle 🙂
  • Marathon training still has its challenges 🙁 This training cycle has been a great chance to work on my marathon/life balance. With three weeks between long runs, the Galloway program builds in more space and some easy weekends. This allowed me to do other life’s activities (such as going out to shows, etc). At times things still got stressful, especially in the past month and a half, when I did my longest long runs. I definitely learned some lessons for next time (such as, don’t try to fit in 7.5 miles the same day before doing the Run the Parkway’s 20-miler!)
  • I love marathon training! If there’s anything that’s clear, it’s that despite the ups and downs, the stresses and challenges, I truly love training for and running marathons :). One of my greatest joys has been seeing how manageable the marathon distance can be. In nine days, I will have run the marathon distance three times over an eight-week period (!). There were a few bumps in the road, but I managed to hold my life together while doing it.
  • Training for a marathon forces me to prioritize. Marathon training has made me look at what I care about most. I’ve learned that I can’t afford to be ambivalent or luke-warm about my commitments. I’m finding more than ever that there’s only room for “Hell Yeses” in my life.
  • There’s a lot for running still to teach me. It’s a bit hard to admit it, but I still have to master running my own race, that is, not being controlled by concerns of how I look or measure up to others, especially during public events. My 27.5 miler three weekends ago was a wake-up call that I need to be disciplined and centered when running with crowds. On December 4th I intend to take a pace that is right for me. I hope to run a race I am totally satisfied with on my own terms.

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