If you are a beginning runner, I promise you now, I am sharing the three most important tasks you need to accomplish to succeed in a marathon. Yes, this is only my opinion, but you can decide for yourself. Three tasks:

  1. we need to plan
  2. we need to maintain the right life balance, and
  3. we need to have fun.

In fact, these tasks help us all. And when our lives and circumstances change, in some sense, we all start again as beginners.

We need to plan, and we have some tools. On the one hand, we have our season-long Legger training plan–how we plan to build up our mileage day by day. On the other hand, we also need a daily activity planner—specifying exactly the days, the hours, the places, and the durations, every day of the week, when we plan to train.

Marathon running is not a weekend warrior sport, and we need to train mid-week. Our goal is to gradually increase our abilities without injury. We cannot wait for the moment when we feel like running; we won’t start. However, when we plan and set out our gear, it becomes more likely that we get out the door. Once outside, in our gear, running, we have solved eighty percent of our running-related problems.

Nevertheless, our plans and calendars only help us if we give them enough thought. We cannot run away from the rest of our life. I have heard Leggers say, and have said to myself, “I need to cut my work hours and care for my family,” “To succeed in my career, I need to work sixty-plus hours a week,” and “I get home from work, and after I put my kids to bed, it is past 10 o’clock. I find it hard to run.” We need to balance all our priorities, what we value most. Our families, career, and personal health, all compete for our time and attention.

We need to find the balance of time and effort that works for us. When our time commitments are extremely high, we may need to scale back our running ambitions to fit our available time. Nevertheless, when we are most pressed for time by career and family, remember we gain most from maintaining a regular running habit, even scaled down.

I cannot advise your choices regarding career or family; however, regarding our training with the L.A. Leggers, because we start with one mile and work up to twenty-six, our training plan gives us the opportunity to discover our own best training balance. Along the way, some find they prefer the lower mileage; others find they want more.

And finally, we need to have fun training. Some of you must think I am kidding, because, at this point in the season, you are convinced that some of your Legger friends run only for more suffering. Bear with me. In my opinion, when we have fun, we want to return each Saturday and run again. Because we meet in our pace groups in person, we make more tangible acquaintances than online, meeting others who, at least, notice when we don’t come. And when we miss our acquaintances, we are more likely to show up.

And if you have read this far, now is my chance to brag. In April 2018, I won first place in the men’s 10-K racewalk in the Pasadena Senior Games, the only track and field event I ever have won in my life. Not only just winning my age group, I beat the rest of the field. You might quibble that I was beaten by five older women including a 78-year-old, but I won the men’s race outright. Because I was the only one entered. From this experience, I learned two important lessons. First, if you must win, then pick an event no one else enters, and second, attendance truly matters. We benefit most from just showing up, no matter how fast or how far we run.