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The other day I was reading my Believe Training Journal and one of the lines about choosing a training plan said something to the effect of “be honest with where you are.” I think this is such a key factor in having a successful training season.
I think that you have to be honest with yourself at the start of training when you are creating a plan and setting goals. But you also have to be honest with yourself throughout your training. I’ve run 7 marathons, ten half marathons and many more shorter races. I can look back at some training blocks (especially for marathon training) and see many places where I was not honest with myself about how my training was actually going.
When I reflect on my first few marathons, I can clearly see that I was vastly undertrained. I skipped runs based on my whims and cut them short because I just honestly felt like it sometimes. Of course life happens, but I regularly ran very very low mileage and assumed that would prepare me for the marathon. It didn’t and I had miserable races as a result. I also didn’t experience much success in getting much faster in the half marathon. I chipped away at my times by taking a minute or thirty seconds off here and there. But I didn’t feel like I was growing as a runner and if I had been honest with myself, I’d see that it was because I wasn’t committed to my training plan (I also wasn’t using the right training plan for me, but that’s a topic for another day).
I find that if I strip away all the excuses and justifications, I can clearly look at how my training is going and then figure out if or what I need to adjust. Honest assessment of how you are hitting paces, how your workouts are going and what that all means is key.
For example, for this season, I have a goal half marathon in March. I just recently raced a half marathon last month where I decided to go for it and ended up running faster than my goal time I’d set for March. Now I have to reevaluate my original goal and see what adjustments make sense as I work towards the March race with a new goal.
If you are just starting out, give yourself grace and don’t choose a schedule that takes you from zero to sixty miles! Start and build slowly and safely and don’t feel the need to compare your plan with someone else’s plan. If you have to miss a few runs, that’s okay. But be careful—if you’ve missed a week of training, maybe you choose to adjust your schedule rather than forging ahead as originally planned. Flexibility, grace and honesty in your training will do nothing but help you in the long run!