The ING 2012 New York City Marathon will take place this Sunday despite the fact that Manhattan is still very much recovering from Hurricane Sandy. Hal Higdon, running writer and coach, wrote, ”The difference between the mile and the marathon is the difference between burning your fingers with a match and being slowly roasted over hot coals.” Running a marathon is a goal many people have but when you work, especially an intense job with a lot of hours, and have a life outside the office, who has the time? We talked to some people who have very intense jobs who also ran the marathon to get their tips on how to do it all.
With o.5% of the population running marathons and 570 marathons held every year in the U.S., this is clearly not just a little trend and it isn’t just for professional runners.
But the training for a marathon is intense. You can’t just do one long run the day before and be ready for the 26.2 mile race. According to MarathonNation, It is the effect of training your body over weeks and months — and the ability to focus that fitness on the big day with your race execution — that will give you the best results.
However, when you start doing those long runs, ones over two and a half hours, the risk of getting injured and/or over-trained is significantly increased. You could find yourself being barely able to walk before the marathon has even started. So what are the best ways to do the training but stay healthy and be able to actually do work?
Photo: Warren Goldswain/Shutterstock.com
On getting the miles in
Lora Mays has run eight marathons. She told The Grindstone:
“Marathon training takes up a lot of time. To be successful at training while working full-time, it’s important to prioritize your life while having flexibility. Your long runs are essential to training so schedule those on a weekend day that won’t interfere with anything. I typically get up Saturday mornings (earlier than I do for work) to get the runs in without having to sacrifice what I want to do for the day.
As someone working full-time, work will sometimes get in the way of your training. Be flexible and understand that this may happen. Adjust by moving runs around during the week or switching up rest days.”
Billy Van Jura runs his own company, has a wife with a big position at a tech company and has two kids. He is running a marathon on November 18 and ran two in 2005 before the kids and company. He told us:
“First I decided I can only workout 4 days a week so they must be good and efficient. Yes, 5 days and more miles may be better but so far so good and once I decided this was the time I had I did not feel bad about it. Saturday and Sunday runs start by 6, kids are up around 7, so I am generally back by 9. This makes for limited interruptions at home, also allows for my workout and my wife’s workout to be done by 12 leaving us the rest of the day.”
Traci Coulter, founder of TCOPR, has run two New York City marathons and is currently training for the LA marathon. She told The Grindstone:
“I followed a strict training program with designated run days, cross training and rest days (Hal Higdon is my God when it comes to training guides for marathons and races). You have to have your head in it and be ready, or you will start skipping runs or taking days off. You can’t for training sake and to prevent injuries. Scheduling races made me “accountable” for getting my milage in and since I paid to register, I had to run it. Many people recommend a running buddy to make sure you get out there on the road – I am more of a solo runner, but races are what I use as a motivator.”
On staying healthy
“For the most part — I’ve been injured twice while training for marathons, both times because I didn’t listen to my body. Listening to your body is essential when training for a marathon. If you have a stressful week at work, your body will feel it — give it the rest it needs so it doesn’t impact your training.”
Van Jura said:
“Nutrition, I did make some adjustments. I do not sleep as much as I should so did bring in some extra protein and vitamins. Also, for long runs I do use cliff shots, sports beans, etc. With limited sleep and a busy schedule supplementation seems to be helping recovery times.”
“I lost weight and just feel great while I am training. An injury sidelined me in 2010 and what got me back on the road was starting with an amazing trainer (Shout out to Athletic Gaines – improved my times, because I found out I didn’t have a strong core!!!) and getting a sports doctor (Dr. Craig Dossman) and an amazing massage therapist.”
On having any semblance of a personal life
“Definitely! Create your training schedule with social activities in mind. If you have friends who run, try to run with them. When we moved to New York City, I had to change my schedule from being a night runner to an early morning runner. It was hard, but I am so happy I did it because it gives me an opportunity to enjoy the city after work.”
“When I decided, in 2008 to train for my first marathon, I really didn’t quite understand just what I was in for. But it was the best experience of my life. Working in Public Relations, almost every day is stressful and sometimes the stress comes from both sides of the coin. I established early to myself and to my colleagues, that while I was running during the weekday mornings, and my races and long runs on the weekend, I was NOT available. I know that people are tempted to strap their iPhone to their arm and be on their way – but don’t – you will always be tempted to stop and check your email, or send an email, or take a photo for instagram – DON’T. It is better to buy a Nano. During those runs it helped me to clear my head and not only concentrate on my training, but think about work and problem solve. It’s amazing how those miles can bring out your creativity! And save your sanity
It was sometimes hard to have to skip a night out or a party, and going to bed at 9 pm (and earlier) some nights. But there is nothing better than opening your eyes, throwing on your running shoes and getting that run in for the day or finish a race or get a medal. You just feel better about yourself and the day ahead of you.”
Running a marathon is extremely difficult. No one will tell you it isn’t. It is both physically and mentally exhausting. But most people will also tell you that they didn’t regret all the hard work it required.
Coulter said, “It’s really something that anyone can do – and I don’t buy anyone that says they don’t have time. They do – set the alarm for an hour earlier, take a Saturday to run instead of shop. And last note – make sure that you are fitted for a good pair of running shoes. I love it so much and have the medals to prove it. ”
Plus, it is a great excuse to get a lot of cute Lululemon clothes.