Marathon Training: How to Stay Motivated

Marathon training is hard. Crazy hard. Even though I knew what I was getting into since I had already done this last year, I didn't expect to go through this lack of motivation again. It happened last season, more so because of injuries, but I thought I'd be able to get through training easier since I knew what to expect. But its still so crazy hard. There are times when I want to end a long run early and just go home. There are times (ok, every morning) when I just want to stay in my warm and cozy bed. There are times when I want a lazy Saturday morning rather than getting up with the sun and getting out into the cold. From being sick to being injured there are many times when I just want to throw in the towel and quit, but training for a marathon is like breaking through the wall in the marathon - it seems impossible, but once we can psychologically get through it we can cross that finish line and call ourselves marathoners.

Marathon Training: Staying Motivated

Coming Back From Illness

I came down with something nasty in the middle of October. I had finished my 11 miles on Saturday and by that evening I started feeling pretty rough. By Monday morning I had a full blown something yucky and after a trip to the doctor on Tuesday I had antibiotics for an ear and sinus infection. Hoping I'd feel better within 24 hours, I then suddenly felt like I had the flu and like death with all the aches and pains. It sucked. I lost a full week of running and then it took me about two weeks to get back into my mileage and pace. I still feel like I'm trying to make up for lost time. 

The two weeks of running post-illness were terrible. Three miles was an insanely difficult distance to finish - a lot of those runs I had to run / walk just to make it to the end. But I knew I just had to keep going - I couldn't quit, and suddenly each run got just a little bit better. I finally completed a long run of 12 miles, and even though the last 4 of that run were super painful, I did it and broke through that wall. 

Coming Back From Personal Defeat

Last year Marci and I had a lot of hardships going on in our personal lives: divorce, loss of jobs, injuries, deaths in the family. It seemed like one bad thing kept happening after another bad thing. Most of the time our runs ended in tears of emotion and long talks on the phone trying to keep each other motivated to keep going. Having a running partner was key to getting through it - our united goal was to run the marathon together so having that source of accountability really helped. Neither one of us wanted to let the other person down, so even if we had to crawl to the finish, we were going to run that race together.

For the most part this year has been better, but there have been a few huge emotional blows. I went out for an 8 mile run last week and it was all I could to just get through it. My mind kept wandering into dark places, but I did the best I could. I ended up only finishing 5, but I still got out there. What I've learned is that the little victories mount up and can help us make it through to the end, ultimately victorious in our goals.

Finishing What We Started

For me, training and running a marathon is something I never thought I would be able to do. Its proving to myself that I can do things I never thought possible, pushing myself beyond what I thought was doable and succeeding. It has vastly helped me in my life as well - I know that I set out to do this crazy hard thing that not many people do, and I did it. Sure, I'm not fast, yes, I'm always going to be a back of the packer, but I don't quit - I keep going, even when its crazy hard.

Challenging ourselves to do these impossible things is terrifying, but incredibly rewarding. And even though I'd much rather stay in my warm and cozy bed and sleep in late, there is something magical about being up with the sun before the world wakes up, breathing in that cold air, and accomplishing a crazy hard goal. 

Marathon Training: Staying Motivated