From Zero to Marathon in About a Million (Not So) Easy Steps

Goofy RunningI finally started training for the marathon! Well, sort of. I downloaded this great training plan from the Nike+ Run Club website. The program is free, and the link was sent to me as part of an e-mail update from the Chicago Marathon organizers. Basically, there are three plans to choose from: 1) Finish a Marathon (that’s all I’m looking to do here, people), 2) PR in a Race (considering I’ve never raced in my life…I am technically guaranteed a PR. Sweet!) and 3) Beat the Kenyans (or something like that). So, yeah. Pretty easy choice for this newbie runner.

The 18-week plan is set up so there is some type of activity (running, weight training, or cross training) scheduled most every day, with a ‘long run’ scheduled every Saturday and a ‘rest day’ scheduled every Sunday. The plan starts with completing a total of 13 miles by the end of week one, building up to a total of 38 miles in week 13 and then tapering down from there. From my vast knowledge of marathon training plans, this seems pretty typical, with the first 2/3 or so of a plan building up and then the final 1/3 tapering down. It’s interesting that there is never a full marathon distance scheduled within the plan. I guess once you go a full 26.2 miles, you might never want to do it again!

I’m sure this and other training plans have been heavily researched and well-tested, but it doesn’t seem very practical to me. The plan might work perfectly for someone with a typical Monday through Friday workweek or someone who works from home or is a stay-at-home mom/dad/whatever, and more likely for someone who has nothing to do but train for a marathon, but, um, yeah. Life. Training for a marathon is a big commitment, but again, I’m not out to beat the Kenyans here. So I will modify things and work through it as best I can. Sort of the way we all muddle through life, don’t you think?

Let's face it: Spelling aside, this is the closest I'll ever run near a Kenyan.
Let’s face it: Spelling aside, this is the nearest I’ll ever run to a Kenyan.

I didn’t start the program until five weeks into the plan (in my defense, the plan link was sent to me four weeks after I should have started), so I decided rather than be behind, I would jump in and catch up at that point. That meant instead of starting with an ‘easy’ three miles, my first day, I had to do eight miles, and by the end of my second week (week six of the plan), my end-of-the-week long run (er, walk) was 10 miles. It really wasn’t so bad. After all, technically speaking, I have been training for over 50 years!

The plan is set up so there is some type of activity most every day, with a ‘long run’ scheduled every Saturday and a ‘rest day’ scheduled every Sunday. This would work for anyone with a typical Monday through Friday work week, but it doesn’t exactly work for me because my work schedule changes every week. I can easily be working 12 hour shifts or traveling for business on the weekends, so I will have to work through the program and modify it to fit my schedule.

My Wished for To Do List
My Fantasy to Do List
What My to Do List Actually Looks Like







I have read that completing a marathon is as much mental as it is physical. I’ve got the mental part down. Seriously, I don’t doubt I can finish this, and maybe that’s the most important part of my training/not training plan. I’ve got the mental part down. PMA…all the way!


Do you have a problem staying mentally focused? What do you find the biggest challenge, the physical preparation for a big race, or the mental preparation for that same race? Have you stopped short of a finish line because your mind just couldn’t get you there?

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