Guest Post – The Importance of Training

Hi! I am Julie from One Step at a Time

I often get way too much praise for the two half marathons I’ve done. I guess you could say that I feel like I can’t quite call myself a marathoner since I’ve yet to run the full 26.2 miles…LA 2011 here I come!

To most, a half is still quite an accomplishment but I will say that none of it would be possible without proper training.

I started training with Team In Training, an organization through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society which helps people train for endurance sports while raising money for cancer research. (To read more about this, please visit my blog). Within just a few short weeks, the girl who would run three miles and feel wiped out, was now running 5, 6, 7, 8, 12 miles a weekend! It was amazing! I always tell people, you can do it too…if you train!

We often forget the importance of training. I too have been guilty of this. Some of us tend to think, “If I jog a few miles a week, I can do a marathon or even a half.” Sounds crazy but I guarantee there are people out there who have done this. Or another common mistake is that we take a break in running and wonder our body can’t bounce back as fast. Again, guilty as charged.

Ever heard the saying, “It takes half the time to get out of shape as it does to get back into shape”? So what does that mean? If you take a week off, it will take you two to get back. My point is that you need to be consistent in your running if you’re serious about increasing your miles and completing a marathon or half someday. So how do you do this?

I want to preface by saying I am not certified trainer, nor am I a coach. I am simply someone who wanted to accomplish something great, work my way up to a full marathon and that’s what I’ve been doing. I started training by increasing my time each week and eventually began focusing on the miles. Little by little, my body began to adapt to the longer runs and the miles came easier and easier.

There are many training organizations and programs out there and it’s important to find the right one. You need to consider which meeting times work for you, do you want to run for a charity, is the location easy for you to access, and really ask yourself if you can commit to it.

I find that people think running once a week with a group will help them build endurance. Think about the word “endure”— it is a sustained effort over a period of time. The dictionary also describes “endure” as putting up with something unpleasant.

Proper training will make it less unpleasant and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that every mile you hit beyond your last gives you a huge rush. The marathon itself is the thrill of implementing all that hard work you’ve done over the last few months and showing off what you’ve got! Plus you get an awesome medal at the finish!

There are several organizations to choose from depending on your style and level of commitment. You may want to train with a group and not want to work with a charity which oftentimes you will need to fundraise for in order to be part of the team. Other organizations will charge a flat fee for the training or you might even choose to do it all on your own. Although the great thing about training with an organization is having a coaching staff and people you can ask questions to regarding your training, injuries, nutrition, etc. These are all very important in addition to running.

Team In Training, which I mentioned earlier is a national training program with chapters all over benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Other organizations which help you train for an endurance sport while raising money for a good cause are American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Team Challenge and AIDs Project LA’s National Aids Marathon Training Program to name a few. There are also local run clubs which I’m sure you can find in your city. Some of my favorites are A Snail’s Pace which has clubs in Brea, Fountain Valley, Laguna Hills and Pasadena if you’re in Southern California and A Runner’s Circle.

Or you can do it all on your own by researching training programs online. Runner’s World magazine is another favorite of mine. You can generate your own program specific to your race date and miles. There are many options to choose from but keep in mind the commitment. Training is key to your running success no matter the distance!

How important is training to YOU?

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  • Reply Amanda K December 17, 2010 at 9:17 am

    This is great advice, Julie. I'm always amazed to hear stories of people who just sign up for a marathon the week of or things like that – it a few months just to train for a 5K – and then I couldn't even run it (out of my control, but still frustrating). Thanks for reminding us that having to train isn't a weakness its a strength! And its part of the fun 🙂

  • Reply Patty O December 26, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Training is so individual – some people are self motivated while others need to be motivated. Organizations are great tools for any athlete, you just need to know what works for you. Congratulations to you!

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