Training For A Marathon And Learning The Value Of Pressure Over Time

If you didn’t know this about me, I like to run. Most people I talk to hate to run. They sometimes say things like “I’m not running unless something’s chasing me.” and other witty remarks when I tell them about my multiple mile adventures on foot. There’s just something about putting yourself through pain on a regular basis for a significant amount of time that some people just don’t get. I guess when you put it like that it’s kinda hard to blame ’em, huh?

Running is a complicated thing for me, but it’s also very simple. It’s become a part of my life that I can’t imagine living without yet it’s also something that I struggle with the most. Running, if given the right opportunity, can become as addicting as any drug out there. But go a couple of weeks without it and you’ll drop it like a bad habit. You put in the months invested and the miles ran and it’s like you never started running in the first place. Running is awesome and can give you energy beyond belief, but let it go and it can be unforgiving.

One way I’m making sure to keep up with my running is by signing up for the San Francisco Marathon that’s on July 29th. Buying a spot in the 26.2 mile race around the city locks me into something far enough into the future that it makes me follow a training schedule and a long enough distance to where if I don’t train I won’t be able to run it.

I’ve never ran a marathon before, but I know a lot of people who have and they’re no joke. Running for nearly 4 hours straight is nothing to take lightly and if I’m not to where I need to be by July then running it would be dangerous if not impossible. I’ve run plenty of half marathons in my day, but if you can run 6-8 miles you can make it through one of those. A full marathon on the other hand takes some serious dedication and you can’t just hope you’re in good enough shape for it, you need to be sure you are.

I’m following a training schedule from a guy named Hal Higdon and he’s keeping me on pace to own this marathon come July. I’m usually not one for planning and following schedules like that but when I do it’s amazing how well it works. Sometimes I think the results I need will just happen naturally and I’ll be able to get to where I need to be without any type of planning or critical thinking and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Can I make some good things happen through gut instinct and good ideas? Sure, but it’s nothing that will be sustainable for the long run and it won’t get me to where I need to be long term.

The one thing that training for a marathon shows me is that when I put a plan together and actually stick with it good things will happen and I’ll be able to achieve the goals I set for myself. The day-to-day grind of following the plan isn’t always going to great and there will be times where I miss a day, feel bad or something else unexpected comes up that could throw me off. As bad as it seems at the time, none of those day-to-day issues will really matter in the long run. As long as I can follow through until the end and do my best with following the plan the results will speak for themselves.

Case in point, I used to struggle to get my runs in during the month and it was hard to stay motivated. Now that I have a plan I’ve ran farther in one month than I ever have in my life and I still have a full week to go (check out my mileage in the above image). Before this month is over I’ll have put in over 100 miles, which is nearly double what I’ve ever done before in the same amount of time. It’s kind of amazing and while I’m going through the daily routine it’s not that exciting, but when I can look back at the results of sticking with it I’m blown away.

I call this act of following a strict plan over a longer schedule “pressure over time” and usually I really suck at it, but I’m doing my best to wrap my head around why I need to create and stick with plans in all areas of my life, not just running. Since this same idea of pressure over time could work my job, marriage, friendships, etc. I’m hoping there will be some crossover. Here’s to creating a plan and sticking with it. May the force (and patience) be with you.

p.s. if you’re wondering why I’m running a marathon in the first place it’s because of my  friend who’s always kicking some ass (and running a lot, too), Jason Shen.


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