Something you may find, as marathon training rolls along, is trying to maintain consistency with your runs. You may be balancing a full-time job, a family and those “life issues” that pop up every now and then. Tack on training, which comes with a new level of soreness, fatigue and possible injuries, and all of a sudden you are on a roller coaster ride with your weekly mileage. 25 miles last week and, whoops, only 15 this week? While it is not impossible to accomplish the goal of completing a marathon, with inconsistent training, you are not going to enjoy the experience nearly as much. More than likely, you will be beat up from putting your body through an 18 mile training run without laying the groundwork. You need to raise your body’s fitness level and ability to handle these new physical demands via progressive and consistent mileage build up.
In Daniels’ Running Formula, Dr. Jack Daniels believes that “participants in any sport need to spend some time subjecting the body to low-intensity stress, mainly to prepare the body for more quality training, but also to develop those components of fitness that respond well to low-stress training.” In other words, you need to put in consistent training, also known as “base building.” One way to do this is to incorporate your daily run into your life so that it virtually becomes your lifestyle, hopefully, for a lifetime. My daily lifestyle goes like this: get up, drink a cup of coffee, check my email and sports scores, morning meditation, get my shoes and gear on, stretch, and I’m out the door for a run. While your particular running routine may vary, you need to make it a key component of your day. Eventually, you won’t be able to imagine a day without a run!
With consistency and commitment in mind, it is important to pay attention to how your body is responding to the weekly increase in miles. Dr. Daniels addresses individual limits:
The principle of personal mileage advises you not to increase mileage just because a three-week period at current mileage has elapsed. Everything you do must have a purpose and must be judged by how you feel and how you perform in training and in races. You might find that 45 miles a week is ideal for you, based on goals, available time, and injuries, for example. This means that mileage increases are not appropriate at this time. Also, you may not want to increase mileage as often as every third week, or by as many miles or kilometers as there are training sessions. That’s fine; simply make smaller adjustments, but use the guidelines previously mentioned to prevent you from making too great a demand on yourself.
This is why I emphasize, to all runners that I train, that no training program is set in stone. While you need to put in the necessary work, feel free to fine-tune your training program to what works best. Next time you are tempted to blow off a run, simply because you don’t feel like it or your buddies are waiting at the local pub, envision the finish line of your upcoming marathon. Then, go out for a run.