Marathon Update: The Joy of Crossing Off Lists

Just a friendly reminder that Sunday is marathon update day, we’ll be back to our usual Size Diversity stuff tomorrow!  A number of people have asked about my training plan for this marathon.  I have been working with experienced trainers on putting a program together to get me to the finish line in time.  As I mentioned before, this marathon is different from the last one because there’s a time limit involved.  I’ve decided on 26 weeks to build up mileage and then 16 weeks to increase speed.  Because my goal this time is more than finishing I’ll be including intervals of running and walking, speed work, more hill repeats etc.  I’ll also be cross training with swimming and cycling as well as doing Zumba and dance classes (West Coast Swing for starters) for a bit of fun and of course stuff for More Cabaret.

My training exists in an Excel spreadsheet with cells for each planned activity.  Then I get to color them in.  Green if I completed them, yellow if I completed but had to move them, and red if I didn’t complete them.  This helps motivate me by feeding directly into my desire to cross things off lists. I also keep a log of all my workouts including time, distance, miles per hour etc. so after I cross stuff off the list I get to enter and process data, another of my favorite past times.

The thing about a training program is that you want to have a lot of faith in it – that if you just do the workouts, you’ll reach your goal, I’ve heard other people call it an “insurance policy.”  The trouble with that is that it didn’t work last time. I did a 20 week program to walk a marathon, I was at my desired finished pace (8.5 hours) on every walk I took (except the 14 mile walk when I learned what hitting the wall was), up to 24 miles. Then the marathon took me almost 13 hours to complete.  I know why it happened but it still makes me a bit nervous – since this marathon has a time limit the idea that I could do all the work and then finish too late to get a medal is something I’d really rather not even contemplate.  The fact that my training last marathon so very much did not equate to performance on marathon day was not something I cared about before – since my goal was finishing and I did that – but now that there’s a time limit, the memory adds to that anxiety.

So all there is to do is to keep coloring my Excel spreadsheet with green, entering my data, and have faith in the program.

Days Until Marathon:  295
Current Level of Confidence:  9
Fun I’m having on a 1-10 scale:  9

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Published in: on May 26, 2014 at 7:23 am  Comments (10)  

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m really enjoying your training posts! You say that you know why it happened in reference to your time being longer than expected in your first marathon. I’m curious, why?

  2. Yep, tell me all about Shit Happening! (Although in my case we hadn’t done as much training as we should have; I was banking too much on innate equine athletic ability – which is still awesome)
    I took my mare to her 2nd event deep in the heart of TX this weekend: we pulled into camp Sat PM, overcast, warm & humid. We had a big downpour Sat evening, Sun morning dawned w/looming storm clouds… Got about halfway through our 1st 15-mi loop before it started sprinkling. Came in for 1st vet check, settled in for mandatory hour rest period w/rain sheets on the ponies, went into trailer to change into dry clothes. By the time we prepared to leave out on 2nd loop, it had quit raining, sun was peeking out. On 2nd loop it was steaming us; had to slow way down & we were running out of time. (6 hr limit which includes hold time = 5 hrs to complete 25 mi) Sweet Scarlett missed meeting pulse criteria by 5 min, which meant no completion for us… So I get to chalk that one up as a “good training ride”. I’m still very proud of her; she’s going to be an awesome trail horse.

  3. sounds like you’re preparing as well as you could be — i’d be interested in seeing that spreadsheet to follow along (been reading a lot about marathon training cause i am contemplating it myself, though i’m not ready to do it this year).

    i’m not sure whether it’s helpful but when it comes to athletic bests (or any bests, really), no matter how well you prepare there is always a measure of luck involved. the very best athletes in the world do at times not perform their personal best on the day of, say, an olympic event, which is actually why i am not much in favour of celebrating the winners on those days so much more than everyone else — i think patterns over time are much more reliably indicative of what a person’s best is.

    but since you’re not gonna make a habit of running marathons, that puts a lot more pressure on that single day, just like the olympics put a lot more pressure on the athletes who participate in them. don’t let it get you down, and i wish that the ineffable bit of luck may be with you on that day.

  4. I think everyone can identify with the concept of training hard and then not reaching the goal. We’ve all done it in one way or another at some point. All we can really do is prepare as best we can and give it our best shots on the day.

    But there are rewards along the way. I, too, know the satisfaction of ticking off boxes and marking goals as completed. May your spreadsheet glow very green, indeed!

    Me? I’m already in preparations for the annual block party in September. I pretty much have the desserts covered every year and I’m already starting to work out what I’m going to bake. I’m seriously contemplating a lemon curd cheesecake with a gingersnap crust… among other things.

    I’m already working out which ingredients I can buy now and hoard until I need them.

    Okay, it’s not a marathon, but it’s strenuous preparation for a goal, all the same. My goal just ends with a mountain of dirty baking pans instead of blisters.

  5. I love that you are sharing this experience with us. Thank you!

  6. We are all behind you Ragen. It is absolutely awesome that you are doing this, and I am learning so much from you about being fat and still doing things that challenge me. I’ve been a fan of yours ever since you posted about how you sometimes go to dance classes just so that you would be the fattest person in the room so that other fat people could see it is okay to come to dance class. I’m one of those fat people that is totally about going to such a class (even though I think I would really love dancing), and I have already learned so much from you about being comfortable in one’s own body. Thank you for doing what you do and for keeping this blog.

  7. You go, Ragen!!!!!!

  8. I love the idea of colouring in the box for each session depending on whether or not you do it as scheduled. Such a simple little “reward” and so effective, even for those of us who think we should be too old to respond to star charts.

    I use an online training facility and find it very motivating to see the boxes on the calendar change colour and my total training mileage (or time) increase each time I log a session. And all the more so because it’s in a public place where anyone can see it.

    You were in my thoughts last weekend. I did my first marathon for a few years, having been unable to run between December and March due to a stupid injury. I was undertrained and it was a warm day. I hated every step of that darned marathon. I was bored. My legs hurt. My guts grumbled. I was slower than I’d expected to be based on the training I *had* managed to do. If I could have pulled out without putting anyone to any trouble, I would have. But I remembered you and your 12+ hour ordeal and how you resisted attempts to get you to quit, and kept plugging on.

    I love to hear about other athletes’ training and will enjoy your Sunday updates :o)

  9. when others run with you even if you meet only in cyberspace, it is a heady sensation………. keep running

  10. “Fun Scale” rating of 9? YES! I’m a marathoner too, and training does require so much time that having fun is absolutely essential. My motto: Embrace the sweat and the joy, feel every breath, invest in quality socks and a great bra, and kick asphalt!!


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