In my quest to cross the Boston Marathon finish line in a couple of weeks, I’ve spent a great amount of time on my feet completing training runs. And like some country songs proclaim, I learned the road can be a lonely place. But it doesn’t have to be. Determined to soak in the experience in its entirety, I found lessons revealed through each bend in the road. Having just completed my final long training run, I complied this list of 20 lessons from 20 miles:
1. Believe in yourself. This lesson deserves the #1 spot on this list because it is paramount to your success. Have confidence in yourself and believe you can accomplish your goals.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others. Lesson #1 and #2 go hand-in-hand. The fastest way to sabotage your efforts is to constantly worry about someone else’s journey to the finish line. Concentrate on your path and your progress.
3. Be a planner. Preparing for a race requires careful thought to ensure your body and mind are ready for the challenge. Follow a training plan to run with purpose.
4. Share your journey. Don’t be afraid to let your friends and family in on your plans – you might need their support to accomplish your goal.
5. Know your stomach. Running can bring out the sensitive side of your tummy. Though you might have to experiment with eating before and after you run, it’s important that you find the winning fuel combination to make sure your gut is race-ready!
6. Bring toilet paper on your long training runs. See #5. Let’s just say that I had to do a lot of experimenting, and even then my stomach didn’t always play fair. Enough said.
7. Hydrate right. I’m a self-proclaimed diet soda addict (and yes, I do know all of the negative things that come with this bad habit – but I’m being honest here). Whatever your vice, whether soda or alcohol, training for a marathon requires a commitment to lots of water and electrolyte drinks. It’s especially important to hydrate well the day before a long run, as well as during and immediately following.
8. Track your progress. Whether you use a fancy online system or a trusty paper calendar, recording your mileage and pace will help you realize the improvements you make. Seeing progress supports #1- believing in yourself.
9. Double knot your shoe laces. Nothing is more annoying than falling into a nice run rhythm and then having to stop to re-tie your shoes. Double knots keep laces locked in place.
10. Mix it up. If you’re like me, you like routine and find comfort in running the same route each time so that you always know exactly where you are and how far you are away from home. This training season I went against my intuition and decided to mix up my plans. Breaking out of the mold allowed me to explore new places and helped me stay engaged during those long, grueling runs.