Saturday, January 30, 2010

Marathon Training (Week 3)

Every Friday until November 7, 2010 you will find entries from a series written by Iris about her training to run the New York marathon in 2010. It is something she never aspired to do; she has never run a distance of more than 2 kilometers in her life. In this series she describes her adventures and how she works on her beliefs to transform her challenges and successes into one great experience.

This Saturday morning I am clear that Marathon training comes down to a 'mind' game. I've come to believe that most of us are capable of running a marathon (after training) as long as we are willing to work on our beliefs and uncover what we say to ourselves to motivate ourselves and create sustainable beliefs that motivate us to go on for long intervals of challenging exercise.

On Tuesday I covered a distance of 5.174 KM (including my 5 minutes of walking warm-up), which was my furthest distance up to then and even though there was nothing else to do but feel proud, I instead felt disappointed and tired.

My goal was to run 30 minutes without stopping, but a little faster then the day before. I started at a higher speed, and after a couple of minutes my body started to give feedback to my brain: this is too fast, slow down! I tried to ignore it, but I know now that ignoring it doesn’t work. You have to counteract with strong positive beliefs otherwise the “slow down” comes back to you faster than you can imagine!

That morning I was not creating positive beliefs. I was working out on a day that I had planned to take off and I seemed to have in my head that working out may be overdoing it. Still, because of my schedule working out that day was the more sensible thing to do. So while working out, every time my body sent a signal, “hmm getting warm; hmm, need some water; hmm, muscles feeling tight” I translated it to "see, you should be resting today. You're too tired to run!”

The funny thing was, I would immediately know that that’s what I was doing and say to myself “this is not useful! tell yourself something else”, and I would start telling myself that I am doing a good job etc. Even though I ended up feeling physically really good about what I did that day, I also felt tired and resistant.

That evening Kathy, Mark and I had dinner and we discussed my morning’s experience and how I was starting to understand that it is my brain and not my body that tells me how far I can run. Kathy shared an experience with me that totally confirmed this belief. I had to laugh hard and want to share her story with you:

During college, Kathy decided to start working out by running on a track at night. After her first run, a friend suggested that she contact security to tell them that she was using the track and to make sure they also check that area on their rounds.

The next time Kathy went to the track to do her beginners workout, a security guy was waiting for her. He posted himself on the side of the track watching over her like a mother duck watching her little ducklings as they take their first insecure steps into the big wide world. Kathy said that she ran and ran and ran… When she stopped one hour later, something she had never done before she realized that she was now a runner! Not because of training, not because of physical conditioning, but because she was determined not to to have had a security guy show up and then not run!

Since I hit my goal for this week (5K) I used the rest of the week to start adding speed to my running. It's so funny, I have so much more resistance to adding speed then to adding distance. I know that adding speed is going to benefit me the most over time. For example: 26 miles at a rate of 4 miles an hour (walking) is 6.5 hours, at 6 miles an hour it's 4 hours and 20 minutes, and at 8 miles an hour it's only 3 hours and 15 minutes. But I'm still quite resistant to speed training.

I have not yet found the best way to challenge myself to increase my speed, and I will keep you updated about my practical research this week on this subject.

Physical Changes
  • My weight has stabilized, but my fat is clearly disappearing on me and becoming muscle. People have started to comment that I lost weight.
  • My bra size has gone down one size.
  • My belly is starting to look muscular.
  • I seem to get grumpy if I skip my workout (addiction?)
  • I started to sweat, something my body normally doesn't do well. On hot days I always felt like a dog only getting the heat out through the soles of my feet.
Next Week’s Goals
  • Alternate speed training and distance training
  • Create a more in depth training program for the next two months.
  • Find and sign up for a 10K race and a half marathon


  1. How about: distance first - speed later.

    What if you were not to tired to work out but too tired to work out at that speed for the amount of time? What if the brain was the wise guy, knowing that the most efficient training that day would be at a lower speed?

    If you send my your running schedule I'll run with you - I have signed up for a half marathon in june and I'm now at 5k (slow)

    Love Joy

  2. I hope you are enjoying your training Joy, it's great to know that we are training together! This month I have the opportunity to do a bit more outside running, so I have changed my idea about speed a bit and I am now enjoying the development of my skill set of outside running where I focus on improving the distance I can run and find a comfortable running speed that feels good to my body. I will keep you updated...


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