Marathon Training: Joining a Running Club is a Great Way to Train for a Marathon

runningI’m at the tail end of my training for my first marathon. I’ve been doing the Run Less, Run Faster training program and so far it has been pretty boring.

When I first told my friends I decided to give my first marathon a shot and that I was scared, they responded with some pretty good advice. One said, “A full marathon is two-and-a-half times harder to run than a half marathon.” That piece of advice in an odd way makes perfect sense. Even though a full marathon is only twice as long as a half marathon, there is a big difference when pushing your body through miles 9 to 13 and miles 20 to 26.

The other piece of advice I got was, “Fear is a great motivator to do your training.” Training is key when it comes to training for a full marathon. There is no cheating when it comes to running 26.2 miles. Unlike running a half marathon, running 26.2 miles isn’t something I could just wake up one day and decide to do. The body has to develop the stamina necessary to run that distance and your body has to get used to taking 26.2 miles of pounding on the pavement.

Once I became sufficiently scared into religiously following my training program, I set out each week to put in the required miles at the required paces. The problem? It has been really hot and humid here in Indiana and running long distances outdoors sucks the energy out of my body. That heat and humidity forced me inside onto a treadmill where I learned the joys of running in the same spot for 2.5 hours.

Wanna know what it looks like when paint dries? Yeah, I can tell you what it looks like literally, they were painting the wall one of the days I spent a few hours on the treadmill.

Thankfully, the temperature has cooled a bit over the past few weeks and I’ve been able to head outside for my longer runs on the weekend. Running 16 to 18 miles outside is far more entertaining than running them on the treadmill. But even though running outside has been more enjoyable than running inside, I could tell I was still missing something. There had to be more to it, otherwise, why did people continue to run marathons after their first?

While planning my 20 mile training run, I searched the internet for any races that may be 20 miles to see if I could join some weird 20 mile race as motivation to complete the run and instead I stumbled on the Indy Running Club. That club had a 20 mile run planned for the same day I was supposed to complete my 20 mile run. The run was set up so that in morning the runners would all park at one spot and be transported by bus 20 miles away. Then as a group they’d all run back to Indianapolis with water/sports drinks stops provided along the trail and lunch provided at the end of the run. Lunch, sports drinks, and maybe some company? Sign me up.

I wish I’d known about the running group months ago. Talk about a difference when training. It’s much easier to run miserable distances when knowing others are running those same distances. Something about misery loves company. Runners in the group were great at encouraging others and they were very friendly. Plus, it was nice to be able to match paces with other runners or overtake other runners as motivation to push myself harder than I would have otherwise.

When I go through this whole endeavor again next year, I’m going to join the group on the first week of my program instead of on the twelfth week.

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