New Distance, New Challenge, New Perspective

What are you doing to challenge yourself and your assumptions about your abilities?

Currently, I am in the middle of training for the longest running distance I have ever attempted, the Marathon.  It’s 26.2 miles of grueling determination, strategy and mental toughness.

As I am writing this, I have just finished my long run of the week, a 22+ mile campaign that really made me ask myself, “Why am I doing this?”  Then I am reminded of why I wanted to tackle this distance in the first place.

Getting Past Your Comfort Zone

I am generally a competitive runner at the 10k level, sometimes tackling the half-marathon distance.  I’m comfortable at those distances.

I know just how much I can push myself and at what mile marks I can really go after it.  I have nailed down the training for such an event and have gotten accustomed in my mind to coping with the pain and time that goes into preparing for race day.

I had never entered a Marathon because I wasn’t comfortable with it.

I had never run that far.  I was personally unfamiliar with any running mileage north of 16 miles.  So many questions clouded my thoughts:

  • How many days can I handle that kind of training?
  • How will this change how I feel during the day?
  • How will I be able to work all of this around my family time without sacrificing quality time with them?
  • CAN I DO IT?

I realized that these are the same obstacles that the majority of my clients, friends and colleagues battle through when tackling their first 5k, 10k or Sprint Triathlon.

I soon realized that there is a distance out there for EVERYONE that is uncharted.  In fact, the courage is not always in finishing the journey to a new race distance, it often is in starting it in the first place!

How to Succeed at YOUR Distance

No matter the challenge set before you, there are some foundational benchmarks everyone should build upon when going for your new distance.

1. Have a PLAN

So many people go into the challenge of a new distance without a definitive plan of attack.  Many just start running and soon become worn out or experience some kind of overuse injury.

Without a concrete plan of what you need to accomplish that day it is much easier to pass on getting in your training for the day and rationalize by saying you will “get it in later.”  What doesn’t get written down, seldom gets accomplished.

A well laid-out plan should be consulted over with your spouse or significant other so they do not feel pushed aside with your training load.  Better yet, if you are training with your partner, you will have more motivation knowing someone else is counting on you to help push them through.

A written plan like the one in the Ready, Set, Go! 5k program is a perfect example of how your plan of attack should be laid out.  This program will be released very soon, so be sure you are signed up here to get it for free as soon as it’s available.

2. Stretching & Maintenance

This area of training goes overlooked too often and is frequently implemented with bad science.  For instance, research now shows us that stretching before an activity when your muscles and joints aren’t warmed up will decrease your performance and put you at a GREATER risk of injury.

Always warm your body up with light exercise that gets your heart rate going before attempting any stretching.  Conversely, taking even 5-10 minutes AFTER training to properly stretch can decrease your chance of injury and speed up recovery exponentially.

A resistance exercise prescription designed by a trained professional will also aid in performance enhancement and reduce your risk of injury.

3. Proper Nutrition

A popular way of thinking when starting to train for a longer distance is that one can “eat whatever” and be okay.  True, you will be burning more calories than you are accustomed to, but the extra calories should be replaced with high-quality balanced nutrition with an emphasis on protein and high-fiber sources of carbohydrates.

Developing a lean physique will be one of your best assets to feeling great on race day.  It takes 30% more energy to run a distance at the same speed as someone 10 pounds lighter.  A lean body feels better and gives you more confidence, and it can usually only be reached with a great nutritional plan.

Going after a new distance can give you more confidence, great perspective, new discipline, and a highly fit physique!  With a little planning, discipline and motivation YOU CAN DO IT!

Good luck & Great health!

Coach Nick

(photo source)

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