This marathon is different in a number of ways, not the least of which in that it was about a year away when I decided to do it. My first marathon was only 20 weeks away which means that this one is over twice the training time. In the beginning of summer that was pretty easy -most of the people who book me are Universities and so in the summer there’s less travel and my schedule is more open since I’m writing and working from home. Now as we get closer to the school year I’m getting booked at colleges and planning my travel which means that I’ll be in unfamiliar places on set schedules which means more challenges to getting my training in. I’m not complaining by any means, I love speaking and it’s totally worth it, it’s just something that’s on my mind.
Whether it was playing clarinet, playing high school sports, dancing, or now running/walking, I’ve always looked at practice as “play insurance.” Now, success is never guaranteed with these kinds of things. It’s one of the things that I find interesting as a comparison of performance vs. visual arts. Both are super cool in their own way, there are just differences and as a dancer who has had to compete with the flu (it’s the only time my partner and I didn’t win outright – we tied for first place) I’ve sometimes envied the artist who takes the sheet off of their painting at the gallery to find it looks exactly as it looked when they finished it! When things happen in real time anything can happen. You can practice figure skating every day of your life and then fall in the Olympics. You can rehearse with your community theater group for six months and then forget your lines. You can have a really bad day on the marathon course and fail to finish, or take four hours longer than you trained for (see my last marathon).
So the only thing to do is put in the preparation that you can. With this marathon, depending on the week of my training program, it’s 3-4 days a week running/walking and 2-3 days of cross-training, and for me there’s lots of added flexibility training (since I’m not naturally flexible and I don’t want to lose my splits and flexibility for dancing.) Especially as a slow runner that means a lot of time dedicated to putting one foot in front of the other while listening to the run playlist on my iPod.
So over the course of a year of training there will be 312 opportunities to decide that there’s a reason not to do my run/walk or crosstraining, and there may be some reasons that are compelling enough to cancel. To me it’s about remembering that each time I skip my training I chip away at my insurance policy.
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