If you are like me, the very last thing that you are thinking about in late July, early August, is about getting out on the mirage looking black pavement to train your heart out in the heat. But, it is in the little challenges where victory is found. If you want to hit marathon season with a running start, pun intended, then summertime is the best time to start training.
One of the biggest things that people my age put on their “to-do” bucket list is to run a marathon. Often, unless they are hardcore runners, they have no idea how grueling a marathon can be for someone who isn’t prepared. The last thing you want to do is cross the finish line injured for life, or worse yet, not even make it across injured.
Training for a marathon isn’t just about clocking miles and building endurance. It is about building strength, flexibility, and joint stability. Those are all things that you can start to do in small pieces so that when the fall comes around, you can add up the smaller training victories to piece them together for an incredibly ready you.
The problem that most people have with attaining goals is that they set the bar too high or put expectations on themselves that is more of a hardship than they are willing to endure. That is why most people who make major life commitments, typically, end up failing. If you want to run a marathon or start running for races, it is the incremental and continual changes you make that soon will add up to an incredible fit and able marathoner.
If you commit now to change or add one thing to your daily routine to start your training, even if it doesn’t seem related to running at all, you will be in the shape necessary to hit the ground running when it is time to really put miles to the pavement. Make small improvements by committing to change one percent of your routine and health every day until one day you wake up, and you have completely transformed yourself without any punishment at all. Make these small changes before marathon training season to be more “trainable”.
Commit every day going forward to either add one small thing to your diet or subtract one. These changes can be as small as going from a Grande Frappuccino in the afternoon to a Tall. If you do that every day for a month, you are cutting your daily caloric intake by 100 calories per day. That one small and insignificant change will save you over 3000 calories a month, or a whole day's worth of calories.
The next day, promise to make the change of adding a probiotic to your daily regime. If you do that every day, you will increase your immune system to get your body ready to take the stress of distance running and also decrease the colds and flu that can creep up as the cold weather sets in and will derail your training efforts.
If you make one small dietary change every day for the next month, either adding something healthy or subtracting something not so much that you likely won’t miss, you can completely overhaul your nutritional status when it is time to hit the road, literally.
Even if it is too hot to train outside, and you don’t want to join a gym, there are a ton of things that you can do to strengthen your joints and make your body stronger to take on marathon training when the weather cools down. Add one small exercise regime to your day every day for the next month, just one small change, and you will see incredible results.
Commit to take the stairs at work every day instead of the escalator, or walk to the deli down the street during your lunch break. Every day just add a little bit of exercise, and then try to increase it slowly until you are ready for the training it takes to make it over the finish line. Take a yoga class with a friend, try Zumba, lift some weights in the privacy of your own home, whatever floats your boat and it will increase your readiness.
Start with the goal of increasing your activity for five minutes a day. Once successful with that, move on to ten. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym or put aside time that you don’t have. To increase your physical fitness tremendously, it just takes baby steps. You have to start somewhere, so start doing something new to strengthen your fitness every day and continue to increase it until you are ready, set, to go.
I know that most of us don’t consider sleeping habits important, but research is just beginning to understand how important the appropriate amount of sleep is to keep up with the demands of the body, for muscle repair, and for brain health. If you are someone who has poor sleeping habits and doesn’t get enough, then try to go to bed just five minutes earlier each day until you can get to a point where you feel well rested, and your body is getting enough recovery time for when you really need it.
Also, if you have poor sleeping habits like keeping your devices next to the bed, waking up to look at your smart phone screen, or watching television before bed, try to cut back and cut them out slowly. The first night set your television to turn off half way through the night. When you are okay with that, set the timer a little shorter. Believe it or not, all the things that are going on in your bedroom are distracting you from getting your much-needed rest. The more rest you get, the healthier you will be when training season comes around. Your body is going to need to relax and heal, getting it prepared now, will put less stress on it when you really need it.
It might seem like you have a lot of time until race day and the heat isn’t very motivating, but training for a marathon isn’t just about running. If you start training by making small and incremental changes daily, by the time that marathon season is upon you, you will be already out of the starting gate and ready to go.