Bad Angel Rule #94
Get to the Starting Line in One Piece.
When you’re looking at the 26.2 miles of a marathon, it’s easy to understand how tough that distance is. However, that’s not the hardest, most punishing part of doing a full mary — it’s the training.
It’s putting in long mileage before and after work, and then waking up early every Saturday morning and running for hours and hours and hours. And then doing it again week after brutal week.
That’s why it is essential to get to the start line healthy. Which, considering the training, is a lot easier said than done. If you’re resting and recovering and sleeping and eating and listening to your body, you’re doing all the of the right things. But often, tweaks and twangs happen when you’re asking that much of your body, and that’s when things get sticky.
You get to this place where you’re not really injured, but you’re not really healthy, either. So what’s a runner to do? Push through the mileage and keep on keeping on with the training? Or take a break, miss essential training and pray for forgiving race gods?
I think the answer lies somewhere in between.
I have not completed a marathon or half marathon to date where I followed my training plan exactly as it was written. Life happens, and you have to adjust accordingly. I think one of the secrets of a successful race is knowing which runs are mandatory and which are meant for maintenance. You’ve gotta figure out how to get those mandatory runs in, and sometimes that means being a little creative. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:
- It’s OK to break up a long run, as long as there are fewer than 12 hours between the breaks. For example, if you need to split up the second 20-mile run of marathon training, you can do six after work on Friday, and the remaining 14 Saturday morning.
- Tweak your training plan to adhere to YOUR schedule, and try not to freak out if you have to adjust on the fly. Got a crappy hammy right before you need to do an 18-miler? Flip flop your recovery week and take it easy a week later. You’ll be OK.
- Take your rest seriously. Don’t try to sneak in runs at the last minute. Your last two weeks are for tapering. Rest and recovery days are an essential part of your training, so treat them that way.
That said, do all you can do to get to that starting line as healthy and prepared for the race as possible. Then, take a deep breath and know that you’re ready for this race. Because you are. And you’re going to show those 26.2 miles who is boss. — Aidz