The beginning of December is like the New Year for most runners. We are coming off the Thanksgiving break and many of us are beginning to train for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
In the aftermath of Thanksgiving, we have more determination to make up for the overindulgence and renewed enthusiasm for beginning our marathon training in a positive way. Unlike most people that can only sustain their commitment to ‘turn things around’ relative to diet and exercise for a few weeks, runners training for Boston have to extend our commitment for 5 months and, hopefully, beyond.
The keys to success are quite simple in theory but more challenging in practice…consistency and moderation. Runners can be excessive compulsive by nature (don’t ask me how I know) so it can be challenging to incorporate these important ingredients into their training.
Without moderation, it can be almost impossible to be consistent. Embarking on a marathon training program with unbridled enthusiasm often results in an injury. Nothing is worse than being forced to take time off from running while everyone else continues to prepare for Boston. One of the best rules to follow is not increasing your long run by more than 2 miles beyond your longest run in the last 7-10 days.
Another common mistake is to begin each run too fast. I run the first two miles of every run 60-90 seconds slower than I expect to average during the remaining miles. It may seem pedestrian but it’s the best insurance against a possible injury. It also makes my runs more effective and enjoyable. During the first two miles I focus on establishing a good rhythm with my technique and breathing. I also don’t start my Garmin until mile 3 so I don’t feel I’m running the remaining miles at a deficit. This removes the stress of having to make up for lost time and immediately transitioning to a pace that places me at higher risk for injury. Taking regular but brief walk breaks also allows you to maintain perfect form throughout each run.
The goal of any successful training program has to have remaining injury-free as a focal point. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and take an extra day of cross training or complete rest. A well-timed and much-needed rest day is as important to your overall training as a great run.
It’s always great to wipe the slate clean and begin a new training program. Just be sure that you listen closely to the signs your body is providing and focus on being moderate and consistent.