It’s Marathon season! Hundreds of thousands of people are getting ready for their 26.2 mile run.
I’m always intrigued by the super human quality that pushes them through the finish line. But it also makes me wonder…why? Why do these people train their minds and bodies to go through hours of hell. Well, maybe it’s not really hell, but it sure looks hard as hell.
And that’s why every year, I bring someone here to find out – how the hell are they going to do this.
Today, it’s Terry from Running With Buddha. I’ve followed his blog for awhile now, and know he is serious about his running. Read on to learn more about why he does it, and what he’s been doing to prepare for the upcoming Aspire Harrisburg Marathon in Harrisburg, PA.
EL: Why did you sign up to run this marathon?
TS: To qualify again for the Boston Marathon.
EL: What is your experience in running marathons and in running in general?
TS: The Harrisburg Marathon will be my 18th marathon in 16 years. Beside re-qualifying for the Boston, my marathon running serves as a health & fitness goal. It has kept me healthy all these years. Running a marathon is different than just general running in that it provides a definite target, by day and time, to work toward, and a task that requires one to face with his or her limitations. Most people would not want to run a marathon. The distance is beyond what is imaginable for most people, or what they are willing to suffer.
EL: Why have you made marathons such an integral part of your life?
TS: When my kids were young, I wanted to be able to play with them. But I was working a lot, and not in good physical shape to play with them (always tired). So I decided to make a change by starting to run again (I ran in high school). The group I was running with had a guy who got injured and could not run the marathon. I was his fill-in and the rest is history.
EL: What exactly are you doing to prepare your body– both training wise and with food?
TS: I have a 20 week training plan that starts with low weekly mileage (10-15 miles), gradual build up to around 50+ miles per week, and taper leading into the marathon at the end of the 20th week. The first half of the training is to build a base (endurance with longer distance), the second half adds a speed workout to increase my fitness level.
I am more flexible on food. I try to cut out junk food as my body needs more protein and carbohydrates, especially when the distance gets longer. I eat more during training and still lose weight because the fat burning. Prior to the marathon, during the taper, (taper or tapering is the 2-3 week period before the marathon where the training ramps down in distance and intensity. So one can recover and rest up for the big race.) I become very strict on my food choices. Focusing on carbs & hydration mostly.
EL: What about the mental aspect — is there any prep you can do to get your mind in shape for running the marathon?
TS: A big part of the marathon is the mental aspect, particularly if one has a time goal to meet –to finish 26.2 miles in a desired time. That is where the discipline comes in. To do so, I have to push myself. It is a solo sport. If my mind is not there, my body will not be able to do it. So on the long runs, I learn to focus on myself (e.g. posture, breathing, strides) for the entire duration. I do not “trip out” or listen to music.
EL: Have you encountered any setbacks during your training?
TS: I am running with minimal shoes for the first time this year. A big adjustment that I believe will empower me to run for a long time. The minimal shoes provide immediate feedback to my feet. For instance, when I raced with my minimal shoes a few weeks ago, I got 4 blisters. And that was only a 10 miler. Imaging that for the 26.2 miles. That was a big setback. So I had to re-adjust my running posture, stride, and pace to ensure I can run a marathon with my minimal shoes (I am up to 18 miles with my minimal shoes).
EL: What do you anticipate to be the hardest part of the marathon?
TS: The training. The body is amazing, and you can condition it to do many things. So the training amounts to conditioning oneself in various challenges (e.g. hills, tired legs) for the marathon race. The training, if executed properly, should make the marathon itself manageable.
EL: What have you learned about pacing yourself as a runner?
TS: A marathon is an endurance event. Think 4 hours. Most people make the the mistake of starting too fast and then running into trouble later in the marathon. I am always working on getting my pace right. To do this I learned to use my breath as a gauge on if I am running too fast. An ideal marathon is run with a negative split (meaning running progressively faster toward the end). Easy concept, but hard to do as we all get tired toward the end.
EL: How does this type of strength acquired from marathon training seep into your regular life?
TS: Self discipline. This is an attribute I recognize in marathoners. They are more self directed and goal setters. I am also healthier, and able to do more things thanks to the marathon training.
EL: What’s next after this race?
TS: Take a break over the holidays, then pick up another marathon to run.
Follow along with Terry’s training over at Running With Buddah.
Bring more mind, body + soul into your life by signing up for my monthly newsletter here!