I promise you, I am sharing the most important tasks we need to do now, at the start of our season, to succeed in a marathon. And not just for our new runners, for all of us, our life and circumstances change, and in some sense, we start every new season anew.
Marathon running is not a weekend warrior sport, and we need to train mid-week. So, our first task, find the best time of day to train. Our schedule is like a parking lot. To get a new activity in, we need to take something else out. Decide what you can stop doing and find the time to train instead. We have some tools. A daily activity planner helps—planning in advance, every day of the week, exactly the hour, the place, and the work out, when, where, and how we will train.
And our second task, find the best locations to train. I recommend running in the places we enjoy most, or at least those most convenient to our mid-week schedule. We may prefer a treadmill at the gym, a quiet street near our home, or a convenient park. I suggest that we find routes where we can avoid cars.
Our next task, plan what we will do in each workout. Our Legger Training Plan is an example of how to plan our mileage day by day. We gradually build up our weekly mileage. We vary our daily training intensity, blending speed, threshold, long-slow-distance runs, and recovery. We run in cycles, hard-day/easy-day cycles, and hard-week/easy-week cycles. We balance our training intensity with our recovery to avoid injury.
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 myself, “To succeed in my career, I need to work sixty hours a week,” “I need to cut my hours to care for my family,” and “I get home from work, put my kids to bed, and it is past 10 o’clock. I find it hard to run.” We need to balance our priorities, what we value most. Our families, career, and personal health, all are important and compete for our time and attention.
We need to find the right balance of time and effort that works for us. When our time commitments are highest, 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 some regular running habit, even when scaled down.
I cannot advise you how to balance your career and family; however, regarding training with the L.A. Leggers, because we start with one mile and work up to twenty-six, our training season gives us the opportunity to discover our own best training balance. Along the way, some find they prefer less mileage; others find they want more.
And finally, we may think, to toughen ourselves, that we need always to train hard and maintain high intensity. Instead, I recommend that we develop a sense of play in our training and have fun. I believe that when we have fun, we will continue to show up each Saturday and we continue running. Our advantage as an L.A. Legger, we meet in person with our pace groups. We make more substantial friendships than online, meeting others who notice when we don’t show. And when we miss our friends, we are likely to keep running.
So now we have three tasks: (1) plan our season, (2) maintain the right life balance, and (3) have fun. Remember, no matter how fast or how far we run, we benefit most from just showing up. And don’t wait for a moment when you will feel like running. When we plan and set out our gear, we make it more likely that we get out the door. Once out the door, in our gear, running at any speed, we achieve eighty percent of marathon success.