Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer

Let's get one thing straight right away: I am not a "non-runner." I have been running since I was about nine years old. I earned varsity letters in cross country and track all four years of high school. In fact, at the peak of my training, I was running an average of ten miles. I've run countless road races, and I know how to pace myself, stretch, do interval workouts, use proper running form, and all of that good stuff. I also know about injuries -- which ones I can run through (shin splints, sore muscles, the tail end of a pulled muscle) and which ones I can't (two stress fractrues). I also have really come to realize since Jack was born how important running is to my mental health.

Despite that, I found this book -- The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer -- to be both helpful and inspiring. The book was inspired by a course taught at the University of Northern Iowa simply called Marathon. Class members train for and run a marathon together, and 199/200 of the participants have met their goal and finished the race. That is pretty darned impressive. The authors believe that the secret to their success is not just the physical training, but also the mental training.

Each chapter represents a week of the training program and is divided into three sections -- the physical part of training, the mental part of training, and anecdotes from participants in the class.

The physical stuff is pretty basic, and I'm not following the training program set forth in the book. I'm using Hal Hidgon's program, which is pretty much the same. But the mental aspect was very interesting. The book is full of ways to maintain a positive outlook, so that you have the confidence that you can haul yourself through 26.2 miles, to build mental toughness, to achieve flow (a sort of zen state where it's just you and your feet), and to concentrate so you can focus on the task at hand. The anecdotes from other runners were also interesting. I liked reading in plain language what a first time marathoner's experience was like.

I got this book from the library, and I'll probably check it out and re-read parts of it before the race.

The one comment in the book really rang true for me. If you're going to run a marathon, you need to make time for training. You can make time for training if you make yourself a priority as much as everything else in your life. It's easy for me to take care of other people, but it's more of a challenge for me to make time to take care of myself. Through running, I am able to take time every day that is 100% for me.

No comments: