Starting marathon training with a clean slate

Maybe I'll even carry heavy things while I run up hills like these guys. Who knows? (File - Jason Plotkin - Daily Record/Sunday News)

Maybe I’ll even carry heavy things while I run up hills like these guys. Who knows? (File – Jason Plotkin – Daily Record/Sunday News)

I love starting to train for a new race. The slate is wiped clean, and the months ahead seem full of possibilities. Yes, this time I will strength train three times a week, do hill repeats, eat right, get all the sleep!

I’m just starting to train for my spring marathon, and it’s glorious. After two and a half listless months without any real goals, I’m anxious to follow a plan telling me exactly what workouts to complete on which days to reach my marathon goal. The past two weeks I couldn’t run because I was too sick, and running one mile feels as strenuous as running 20 right now, true, but the schedule says run 5, so I do. That, friends, is the beauty of training. It says do it, so you do.

With a new race comes new goals or at least new approaches to a goal. I can finally let go of whatever happened in my last marathon (<cough> missing a PR by 31 seconds), and look toward the next, which hasn’t yet been tainted by reality. It gives me something to visualize as I run, this course that I’ve never seen, an imaginary finish line I will cross with one last great burst of energy, a PR and a huge smile. (Maybe people are chanting my name, you don’t know they won’t.)

I’m not stressed about my race yet because it is just too far away, and at this point, there’s almost nothing I can’t overcome before race day. (Knocking on all of the wood I can find now). I mean, I just missed two weeks of training. Two weeks! If this was mid-training season, I’d be absolutely losing my mind over how I could come back from that. But since it’s the beginning of training, I’m barely flinching.

And this cycle of beginning, middle, end, break, repeat, this is why I don’t just love to run, I love to race. There’s no daily grind. I’m constantly working toward a goal or recovering from it. Every training cycle is different. Every race is different. And having a goal, a race to look forward to, to work toward, that makes all the hours put in to running seem completely worth it. It’s not just getting up at 5 a.m. to run 6 miles. It’s getting up at 5 a.m. to run 6 miles so I can run my best marathon ever. And that, makes all the difference.

About Kate Penn

I've been a staff photographer at YDR for about 7 years. I'm into visual media, running, and food. Reach me @k8penn
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