Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to having a very successful training cycle!
I’ve been through lots of training cycles over the years. Mostly for half marathons but in my more recent history, a few marathons, too. Regardless of the distance of the race, a training cycle is only as successful as you make it. What does that mean exactly? It means, like with anything in life, you get out of it what you put in.
Recipe for a Successful Training Cycle
So what does it take to have a successful training cycle? Some things are in our control while others are not. The way to have a successful training cycle is to use such things to our advantage. And that brings me to point number one.
1. Do what you can with what you have.
That may seem really simple — and honestly? It is. Let’s take the weather as an example. Weather is, without a doubt, completely out of your control. But by training through adverse weather — hot, humid, cold, snowy — you’ll build not only mental toughness but also train your body to adapt in all sorts of different weather conditions. By using the weather to your advantage, there will be little surprise come race day. (Unless of course you live in Cleveland and run through all four seasons in one morning like the 2016 Cleveland Marathon — but that’s neither here nor there. But mental toughness sure worked liked a charm!)
2. DON’T skip your workouts if you’re healthy.
This one’s a no-brainer. Training plans are written as such for a reason. They help you build endurance, speed, and stamina. By skipping out on workouts, you’re only jeopardizing yourself. Your coach has written your plan as it is for you. Following a plan will help you get to the starting line safely and happily — and to the finish line with a smile on your face! Are there times when you should skip a workout? Yes, absolutely. In the case of illness or injury, please skip workouts! But be sure to communicate with your coach so s/he can adjust your training plan accordingly.
3. DO skip your workouts if you’re sick or injured.
Contrary to point number two, DO skip your workouts if you’re sick or injured. You will achieve absolutely zero benefit of training if you run while you’re under the weather or injured. In fact, you could end up doing more harm than good. Instead, take the time to rest and heal. If you’re sick, it’s better to miss a few days to rest up and recuperate than it is to miss a week or two because you didn’t allow your body time to fight whatever infection you might have. And certainly if you’re injured — there’s nothing worse than having a minor injury turn into a full-blown major injury with possibly sidelining you — or making your race completely miserable — before you even make it to the starting line.
4. Complement your training with strength work.
As a coach, I will tell you the importance of strength work. As a runner, I will also tell you the importance of strength work. But… as a runner who works and has a family to take care of, I’ll also mention that strength work does sometimes fall by the wayside. Real talk, right? Right. There are days I have every intention of working out for 30-40 minutes to make sure all my muscles are in good, working order. But then life happens and I find myself skipping the workout completely. I’ve realized, however, that my workouts don’t have to be 30-40 minutes in one go. I can get an effective workout in just 10 minutes a day — or whenever possible.
Strength work is paramount to staying injury free and also building speed and strength. Don’t make excuses — just do it. Just a few minutes a day (and if you can fit in a few times a day that would be awesome, too) should do the trick. Runners in particular should focus on the stabilizer muscles — glutes, hips, and core.
Recipe for a Successful Training Cycle
By following a schedule, completing your workouts, and complementing your training with strength work, you’ll be well on your way to having a very successful training cycle and an amazing race! Be sure to communicate with your coach to ensure you’re getting the most out of your workouts and training. Do what you can with what you have and you’ll be prepared for anything come race day. And remember, above all else, have FUN! Because if you’re not having fun, what’s the point?
What’s one tip you would add to this list?
Have you run through inclement weather on race day?
Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday.