Marathon training can be a slog. Most training plans cover a 16 week training plan where you are slowly increasing your weekly mileage with cutback weeks thrown in to help your muscles recover from all those miles you are adding on. One of the many challenging parts of marathon training is that if you are running a spring marathon there’s a good chance that your most of training will be during some of the coldest months of the year and if you are running a fall marathon most of training takes place during the hottest months of the year.
They say that summer marathon training makes you a stronger runner. Man, I sure hope so! Most of my long runs have been on some of the hottest and most humid days of the summer.
Those long runs are the ones where I find that you need to rely on your mental toughness the most. While I enjoy the hot weather it is the humidity that gets to me the most and the one thing I have to try and keep thinking about is my cold beverage for after the run! There was one recent run where a portion of that run was along a stretch that had zero shade and all I could think about was a nice cold bottle of — Gatorade. Yup, that’s right. A Gatorade. I was thinking about having Gatorade instead of a beer or a Bloody Mary. Marathon training does weird things to your brain.
Anyhow, I kept thinking about that Gatorade so much that it was the only thing I could think of for the next couple of miles. It is what kept me going. But as soon as I stopped into a store to get that Gatorade it became almost impossible to get my brain back into the running mindset. And that is part of the training you you keep in the memory bank. You have to learn from that because you will most certainly need that when you hit the wall during your marathon. You do have to train your brain as much as your legs and this will certainly help you prepare for that moment when you need it most.
Different types of weather is something that I also like to prepare myself for during training. I always want to have a long run in the rain. You never know when your big day will have a torrential downpour. Personally, I love running in the rain especially in the summer and fall. I really feel like when I have a long run in the rain that I am truly ready for the marathon.
Knowing how your clothes are going to feel as they get waterlogged is a tremendous help as far as I’m concerned. You learn what areas might chafe when your clothes are wet or if your feet are going slide around in your shoes if you your socks get soaked or will you get blisters. These are things you want to know about so that you can focus on running your marathon if it rains.
One of the few things that I ever get to train for is cold weather. I live in New York. We do not get cold weather while training for fall marathons! But this year I got my very first chance to do just that and you will not believe how excited I was. This in itself is pretty amazing because I absolutely detest winter.
I am currently on a business trip in Calgary. When I left New York it 60 degrees and I was wearing shorts and t-shirt. By the time my plane landed in was 32 degrees. My plan called for seven miles so I gleefully put on all of my layers (tights, arm warmers, long sleeve shirt, jacket, beanie, and gloves) and headed out. I guessed at the right amount of layering for me probably a first since I normally get to ease into winter running.
I got in my seven miles and now have the feeling of what it feels like to run in colder temps with a month and half before my marathon. Seriously, I’ve never had that cold weather running opportunity for all of my other marathons.
The other great thing that this run provided me the opportunity for was to run on a flat path for almost the entire way. For the most part the Philadelphia Marathon course is flat and your muscles react differently running on flat surfaces over an extended amount of time than they do on hilly surfaces. So I got that part of the preparation under my belt as well.
I heard in snowed a bit here in Calgary this morning but I haven’t really left the hotel since my long run on Sunday. Snow — now that would have really made me prepared for anything.
BTW — I’m just $50 short of my fundraising goal for AACR. Please consider making a donation. Any amount helps!