Cleaning Up a Few Odds and Ends

Even with my latest set-back on the hamstring front, time marches on and I still need to get ready to start my marathon training on Monday. It seems as though the elliptical and I will remain training buddies for a little longer and while it is definitely frustrating to start this marathon training cycle injured, that does not mean that I won’t be successful – it just means that I have to do train things a bit more creatively and smahtah.

So I want to get some thoughts out of the old noggin, reflect on a few changes I have made and just make a general nuisance of myself as I talk some more about getting ready to start my marathon training.


Part of getting getting the marbles and rocks in my head wrapped around what I need to do to finish a marathon this fall and make it something other than a fantasy.

I have been re-reading “How Bad Do You Want It” by Matt Fitzgerald and it is forcing me to to think about my past failures and what I really want when it comes to running another marathon. The following quote from the book, pretty much sums how I see many of my struggles:

…a large body of psychological research has demonstrated that the more time people spend fantasizing about desired outcomes — everything from passing school exams to losing weight — the less effort they put into pursuing them and the less likely they are to achieve them. Distinct from mental rehearsal, or practicing a sport in the mind at rest, which is proven to enhance performance, fantasizing about desired outcomes is a maladaptive coping skill that may be associated with a lack of confidence in one’s ability to make these outcomes happen through one’s own efforts.

Yep, sounds pretty familiar to me. Fantasizing about how great I will do and by how much I will be under the Boston Qualifying time is something I have done too much of over the years. After all I “know” I can finish a marathon, it was always a question of how fast.

Even before I started re-reading “How Bad Do You Want It”, I knew that I had change how I viewed my training for the marathon and that I had to make it reality based. Which meant that I had to stop thinking that I could finish a marathon just because I thought I could. The book reinforced that the direction I had already started going intuitively…was the direction I needed to keep going.

Being willing or “knowing I can” are separate concepts that need to be made into me actually doing the work, all while listening closely to what my body is telling me during this marathon training cycle.

The other thing that I need to focus on is that training for a marathon is a process. It is not about being willing to work hard, because I already know that training for a marathon is hard work, otherwise it would not be an accomplishment.

However, my training this cycle has to avoid my propensity to do too much, too soon, which results in being overtrained, fatigued and usually injured. I have to keep focused on doing the proper work in training for me – not anyone else. So that I am prepared, healthy and confident – in other words ready to run when I toe the marathon starting line.

Re-reading “How Bad Do You Want It” by Matt Fitzgerald meant much more to me this time and made me look at the journey I am on quite differently. Now to stop fantasizing about how I should be able to finish a marathon just because I think that I can and get my arse in gear to do the work necessary.

This has to be my focus this training cycle.

Running Log Spreadsheet

I have made some changes to the spreadsheet that I use to officially track my running – Stava and Garmin Connect are just repositories for my GPS data and places where I can see how some people I know are presently running. I did a bit of reorganizing to make things easier to read, deleted columns that I didn’t really need and focus more on what is important during this training cycle for me.

My old Spreadsheet fields:

Updated Spreadsheet

I added fields for planned mileage/workouts, elliptical run equivalent and steps. The Planned column is important for me to keep track of what comes next, which is something that I tend to wing too much. I need a set of safety rails to keep me mostly on track and having the daily training plan in this spreadsheet does that.

Something I took out a couple months ago, but I added back is the daily step amount. The guesstimate on the number of daily steps that my Garmin gives me, gives me something tangible that I can track regarding how active I have been.

When I look at those two columns to see what’s going on versus what I am going to be doing, hopefully it will give me a heads-up if I am headed down the slippery slope of doing too much. They might even help me avoid some of the overtraining or overuse injuries that seem to happen when I train for marathon and get caught up in feeling too good, then do too much.

Errr in other words help me to avoid a case of the stoopids.

I would like to stay between 15,000 and 25,000 steps per day, that seems to be my sweet spot, with my day before a long run or race on the low end for obvious reasons.


Even if I could run without any issues (damn hamstring), I knew that I was going to use the elliptical as a part of this marathon training cycle. A small concession to being 60 is that I can’t always train harder and have to train smarter. However, I wasn’t sure about how I was going to incorporate the elliptical into my training plan.

When I re-read “Overthinking the Marathon” by Ray Charbonneau, the idea of using a portion of the bike mileage as part of the planned marathon regimen and have them count towards my total marathon training miles seemed like a reasonable idea for me. It will sooth my ego, let me still have the higher mileages I would expect to run during marathon training and hopefully allow me train more effectively than I would be able to otherwise.

Unfortunately, I hate riding a bike, I will use one to get from point A to point B, but as far as using one for regular training – it just does not interest me. However, we got a nice elliptical last year and plus I have access to them at the gym if I want to do some weights too.

Converting elliptical miles to approximate running miles, made it so that the idea of using the elliptical as an important part of my marathon training became much more palatable. After fiddling around a little with the mileage equivalence numbers, it seems that if I use a .5 multiplier on the elliptical mileage it comes out close enough for my purposes as a running equivalent.

Another important factor that I for using the elliptical is that while I was using it this winter, I noticed that I had a lot fewer issues with the niggles. So somehow it strengthens muscles that I also use for running. Plus even though my hamstring bothers me when I am running right now, I can go for miles on the elliptical without any issues – except: I am not outside, it can get boring as hell (the iPad is a lifesaver) and I am not running.

Therefore, I plan to use the elliptical:

  • as my primary aerobic exercise until the hamstring quits complaining
  • on my recovery days versus another run,
  • if I am feeling more fatigued than I should be, but want an active rest day
  • if I feel like a niggle is turning into something more than a minor irritation use the elliptical until it clears up. That and changing around some planned workouts to ensure that I do not miss the long runs.

While primarily using the elliptical is not an optimal way to get started on this marathon training cycle, it is a helluva lot better than not being able to do anything. Especially when otherwise I would simply be blowing a lot of hot air about how I am going to run a marathon, while I am sitting on the couch talking nonsense.

That all talk, no action kinda stuff.

Time will tell if the elliptical is part of the answer for me.

The reality is that

I do want to finish a marathon this fall and know that I cannot keep doing the same things, the same way that I have done in the past – that will only lead to another failure and more disappointment. I have a pretty decent idea of the theory of how to get to the finish line, but now I have do actually do the work.

I have get out there and do more than fantasize about how great I am and how I will easily achieve the coveted BQ the first time I run a marathon in more than 30 years. However, when I am honest with myself I cannot do both this fall, so I must focus on the most important thing – the process I will be using to finish this marathon.

There I got a bunch of odds and ends out of my head and put them someplace where I can go back and re-read or reflect on what I have writing as I go through this marathon training cycle.

I know that I will keep “How Bad Do You Want It?” On my dresser until I finish my marathon this fall.

After all training for a marathon is a process and I am pretty good at setting up and following processes.

2 thoughts on “Cleaning Up a Few Odds and Ends

  1. I totally agree, training for a marathon is a process that has to be built up progressively. It’s so easy to get caught up in the plan and become so impatient for results. That was my past mistakes.

    You’ve known me long enough to know I consider the Hansons Marathon Method as my running bible but even then I’ve to look out for doing too much too soon. At my age, things ‘break’ easily. This year, I opted for a longer training plan and it looks to be going good so far. 3 weeks plus to race day to see if it’ll all pan out according to plan 😬.

    Looking forward to reading your marathon training updates 🙂.

    1. It has taken me a long time to figure out a lot of this stuff. I guess you don’t learn until you are ready or so the saying goes. I am looking forward to reading about Happy Feet getting across the the finish line. I just hope that I at some point during the training my posts become more about running and less about whining about not running 😉 heheheehee

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