Did you know that it’s not necessary to run a marathon to stay in shape? Something tells me you didn’t need that question. Without reading another article, you know it only takes about 30 minutes of moderate exercise on four or more days per week to sustain an active lifestyle.
Despite your awareness of exercise's mental and physical benefits, it sometimes slips off your calendar.
Yes, I have an uncommon dedication to working out, but I get it. There are many days when I don't want to run miles, lift weights, or train Capoeira.
I fuss and fight but often find the discipline to get moving. How? I've created emotional and tangible connections to obscure workouts and clear goals.
Ask yourself, why are you working out? Remember your answer and engage in positive self-talk when pushing through a strenuous fitness activity.
I often talk to myself when out for a long run. I say things like, "The body is a temple; I'm doing this for my family; Get it together, Vernon; You have another race coming up."
Visualizing your reasons for working out is also helpful.
One of my fitness dreams includes participating in the Boston Marathon. Boston is a competitive marathon that requires participants to meet qualifying times to register. Ever since I ran 26.2 miles for the first time in 2007, running Boston became a target.
After two Chicago marathons and failing to make the time, I retired my training shoes. I continued to run as part of my fitness routines, but not with the intention to race. Then in 2020, the itch and blisters returned. I started to run again.
I’ve now completed five marathons. But don't follow my lead. Three marathons in three consecutive years is a lot.
Find something that works for you. Perhaps, registering for a local 5k will push you out the door and toward a more active approach to living.
Since you’re still here, let me tell you about the race I did earlier this month.
On July 4th, I ran Portland’s "Foot Traffic Flat.” While I finished the 26.2 miles, my performance did not meet the Boston standard to qualify. I could point to many things that went wrong.
Do you look for ways to improve after competing in a game, presenting at a conference, or completing another meaningful task?
I'm not asking if you look for regrets. I want to know if you create what some call an "After Action Report.” Your report can be verbal or written, but the content must reflect an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses.
Here is a sample of how I processed the Portland marathon.
What went wrong?
Muscle fatigue got the best of me. My hamstrings cramped at mile 25.
I drank too much coconut water before the race. It flushed me out before the starting line. I had no fuel to finish the marathon at my target pace.
The course was not as flat as advertised. Multiple hills and curves went beyond my expectations. I underestimated the terrain.
Not resting for a full day after 30 hours of traveling did not help.
I completed the marathon in less than four hours. Despite feeling physical pain and emotional disappointment, I didn't quit. I had to walk through some of the final water stations but still found the strength to finish strong.
Now what happens?
From this reflection, I reorganized my strength training schedule, revisited my diet, and studied the next course in advance. I will be better prepared for another attempt to race in Boston.
Did you know that experts recommend taking 26 days to recover after a marathon? That's one day for every mile. Some recover sooner and others later, but the body needs time to rebuild muscle.
My training for a September race begins this weekend.
Are you thinking, who cares? You don't have any plans to run a marathon. That's fine. Just remember to identify an activity you enjoy to increase exercise motivation.
But if you're interested in running your first marathon, here are three more sentences to encourage you.
What I appreciate most about marathons is the challenge it offers you. Each mile possesses the potential to teach you how to acknowledge and manage pain. The training and race will move something in your spirit that hints at what is possible for your life.
If consistency with physical activity is difficult, ask a partner or friend to join your workouts.
Believe in your body’s abilities. You are not too old or young to start exercising. See the video below of an open-water swim meet with swimmers of all ages.
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