Today is the official "Day #1" of my latest batch of marathon training. This time, rather than using my own, time- and mileage-intensive training regimen, I thought I would opt for Nike+ Running's "Advanced" marathon guide, which is available on their Facebook page.
Why have I opted for someone else's workout plan? Well, there are a few reasons. First, with my increasing commitment to my YouTube channel, I have less total time on my hands. Rather than using running as my primary source of entertainment, I'm spending the majority of my free time writing and recording music, some of which appears on YouTube. The reduced time constraints means that I cannot necessarily spend an hour every morning, and another hour or two in the evenings, training for a marathon. (Remember, folks, my marathon guide is not for beginners!)
Second, when I reviewed the Nike+ guide prior to deciding to use it, I saw that it was remarkably casual and low-mileage. Both of these align with my other priorities, as expressed above, and they also allow me to train for a marathon without feeling like I'm moving heaven and Earth to do it. I don't expect to come anywhere close to winning or placing in this marathon, so a nice, casual, fun training guide is just what the doctor ordered.
Finally, it's always nice to try something new with your exercise regimen. I know how to push myself. I know how to train myself. I know what to expect from me. Variety is the spice of life, or so they say. Sometimes it's nice to sit back and act as co-pilot. You might learn something from the way other people approach things. Or, you might simply appreciate not having to do all the work yourself all the time.
All said, choosing this marathon guide was an easy decision to make. All that's left to do now is work on motivation.
Sometimes, motivations isn't a problem. Sometimes it's easy to jump out of bed, tie your shoes, and hit the road. Sometimes it's easy to spend a few hours at the gym, enjoying the process of working out and getting in great shape. Other times, it's a real piece of work.
There are various different points during a multi-month training process at which you lose your motivation. Since this is Day #1, I'll focus on the first point.
The first couple of weeks of training are some of the most difficult weeks to get through. One reason for this is because you haven't yet invested a great deal of time or effort into your training. You can still easily back-out of the whole deal. It's only been a few days, right? If you decide not to do it now, you have countless excuses to give to your friends: the timing of it all didn't work out, you're not ready to take on something that big right now, something else came up, etc. Because you don't yet feel like you're committed to the marathon, the cost of backing out entirely is very low.
Another reason the first few weeks are difficult is that training hasn't yet become part of your daily routine. So, instead of waking up with the knowledge that you have to hit the pavement first thing in the morning, you wake up feeling like you've taken on a big project that's forcing you out of bed. Ouch, what a drag. It's not easy doing something to which you're unaccustomed. All your ordinary habits are begging you not to go work out. This makes things a challenge.
Of course, the fact that what you're doing is a new set of physical imperatives doesn't help, either. Your muscles hurt as you start to demand more of them. Your appetite changes, both in terms of how much you need to eat and what kinds of things you feel like eating. You get hungry at different times in the day. You start to notice particular sensations in your body as your senses get more in-tune with your new training. All of these things can often add up to a general sense of physical discomfort.
It is important to remember that all of these feelings are both normal and temporary. It is to be expected if you lack a lot of motivation during the first couple of weeks of training. To come out successful, consistence is the key. Just keep getting out there, even though you don't want to. Keep your eye on where you're going: a marathon.
Over the coming weeks, you'll experience different kinds of motivational lapses, and those require some different treatment to keep you going strong. But during these first few weeks, the path to success is in nothing more than blindly carrying forward until it's not a problem anymore.
Fundamentally, we're talking about habituation.