The Road to 26.2 – Why do so many people love long distance running?

Marathons…who are these crazy people who want to put themselves through the physical and mental pain…voluntarily?

I want to find out.

In this series, I’ll be documenting my training strategies and insights about performance, nutrition, recovery, and health.

Even if you are not a runner or don’t plan to run, I hope this inspires you to push your physical and mental limits and to realize that you are capable of more than you ever dreamed of.


Running

Do you remember accomplishing a goal that seemed almost impossible but somehow you succeeded?

You graduated from college.
You finished your Masters, PhD, or Doctorate.
You ran your first 5K. You started your business from scratch.
You finally beat that impossible level in Candy Crush.

It probably doesn’t seem that hard now looking back.

You probably experienced the high and satisfaction of being able to say, “I did it!”

My mom would always say, “Getting good grades and accomplishing goals are natural highs. I don’t need drugs!”

She has a funny way of saying very wise things.

Thanks to her, I’ve become a natural high junky…so to speak.

I’m hoping to get my next fix by training for the Seattle Marathon—my first full marathon.

Why am I doing something crazy like running a marathon?

1) To Build Resilience

Whenever you get a “win” from achieving a personal goal, your biochemistry changes. Your brain begins to make feel-good hormones that come with overcoming challenge and succeeding.

This positive internal knowledge then spills over into all areas of life—physical health, spiritual health, financial health, and relationships.

Physical challenges build resilience, which then increases confidence. More confidence then improves the ability to overcome challenges whether in business, your job, and other aspects of life.

Challenges and difficulty are inevitable. Resilience will help you bounce back after being knocked down.

Just like a rubber band, human potential is nothing unless it is stretched. We gain energy when we stretch ourselves—energy to do better work, to have better relationships, and to have better health.

2) To Build Discipline

I’ve always felt like I could reach my goals faster if I had more discipline. Training for a marathon is how I intend to train this discipline.

Plus, it would be stupid not to train properly for a marathon.

Training will involve developing a strategy and executing that strategy. I will have to put in my miles consistently even if it’s too cold, too rainy, or too early in the morning.

Anything worth accomplishing doesn’t happen without some sacrifice.

3) To Keep Myself Accountable

Registering for a marathon and announcing it publicly puts me on the hook. Just imagine announcing to friends and family that you will do something and then you end up not doing it. The fear of embarrassment is a strong motivator!

I probably wouldn’t have the drive necessary to just go running without some goal. I know that about myself. It was time to see what this distance running was all about.

I’ve thrown my hat over the fence and now I have to go get it.

4) To Improve My Health

I’m curious to see how my body changes with long-distance running. My prediction, if I do this properly, is that I will:
– lose fat
– improve my fitness (stamina, endurance, and overall energy)
– adapt to burning fat as fuel (ketosis)
– be healthier after the marathon

Like many physical activities, there are benefits and risks. I’ll be digging into these and more over the next few months.

My Training approach

1) Flexible training schedule – There’s a lot of opinions about which is the best training schedule.

For now, I’m roughly following the Higdon Intermediate 1 schedule while applying some of the cumulative fatigue principles from the Hansons Marathon Method

But I’m leaving this open for modifications.

A friend of mine, Linda, who is an accomplished long-distance athlete and Iron Man finisher, shared some valuable insight with me.

Setting an overly strict schedule can cause unnecessary stress and create too much pressure if and when real life interferes.

She recommends being consistent while also being flexible when the unexpected happens, and also periodically assessing the training schedule to adjust goals and strategy.

2) Cross training – Running is only part of the training for a marathon.

Strength training, balance, and core strength will all be important for maintaining running form and being able to handle the force of pavement coming up to hit me. Strength training also is one way to protect joints and increase bone density.

This will consist of at least 1 day of weight training—deadlifts and squats—and training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 2-3 times per week. Plus, it’s just fun and a different type of challenge.

Training BJJ does present an injury risk, but I’m still a very new white belt and most of my training happens in a controlled, non-competitive environment for the time being. I’ll adjust my training as needed.

3) Sleep and recovery

Sleep is going to be key for giving my body and mind a chance to repair itself and to have the energy to maintain a consistent training schedule. I’m going to have to think carefully before working late at night or accidentally falling down the YouTube rabbit hole.

4) Nutrition

I’m going to have to consume a larger volume of food while training. My goal is to increase not just volume of food, but also to maintain quality and nutrient density.

Just because I’m training more doesn’t mean I’ve earned the right to eat anything and everything I want.

I’m looking for the right nutritional building blocks my body needs to repair and build, produce energy, and prevent injury.

The ketogenic diet is really interesting to me right now, and I’ll be doing more research into this. Of course, I’ll share what I learn.

5) Tracking

I’m currently tracking my running activity with RunKeeper app on my iPhone. It tracks the distance, pace, and route of every run. It also allows me to share my running progress on Facebook and with other friends who use the app.

I also have a monthly wall calendar from Muji solely for tracking my running and cross-training. I was inspired by Jerry Seinfeld who famously used a calendar and a red marker to motivate himself to write new material every day. See this tip and others to make habits stick here.

6) Running with others

Typically, I like running and exercising on my own schedule, but running with others has been a nice way to catch up with friends, stay accountable, and learn from more experienced runners.

I found a very active group, the Seattle Greenlake Running Group on meetup.com and have done a couple Wednesday 5:30AM runs.

When would I wake up on my own to go run at 5:30AM?

Despite my general anxiety of social gatherings (I’ve gotten MUCH more comfortable with this over the years), I have no regrets and have met some great people.

My Training Objectives

My main objective is to finish the race comfortably without major injuries and to have fun doing it.

Based on my 2013 Vancouver half marathon time and recent 8K performance, my conservative finish time for the Seattle Marathon is under 4 hours and 30 minutes with a stretch goal of 3 hours and 45 minutes.

This time of year can be cold, wet, windy, and possibly icy, which might throw all my goals out the window. Given that this will be my first marathon, I’ll be happy to complete the run comfortably and without injury regardless of my finish time.

Are you a runner? What do you think your biggest challenge will be that stands between you and your goal? Have any advice for me?

Comments 1

  1. You are going to do FANTASTIC because you already have the right attitude about it! You are realistic yet optimistic about the training and the goals you have set. Cant wait for your race!

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