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Whatís your marathon plan?

Posted by Ty Velde  March 30, 2011 09:49 PM

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When it comes to running a marathon, in addition to dedication, perseverance and stamina, one thing it takes is planning. Itís only logical, considering that running a marathon is an endeavor that requires months of preparation, so in order to do so you need to create a plan that takes you from the point where you consider running the race to that where you cross the finish line.

However, what I find interesting about a ďmarathon planĒ is that very rarely is it comprised of just a single component. A marathon plan is ultimately comprised of many sub-plans. Itís these other plans that, in my opinion, provide the motivation to get us through the challenges of preparing for the race and provide the vision of how weíll handle race day and in many cases, how weíll look to celebrate after the fact.

The Training Plan
Training is a necessity, but in order to be successful you need to plan ahead. This is inclusive of building up your mileage, choosing your routes and budgeting your time. Training requires long-term planning skills because itís something that youíll be doing for months prior to the race. Therefore, mapping out and executing a training plan is a critical step in the overall marathon process, as you need to physically prepare yourself for race day and the 26.2 miles that lies ahead of you.

However, a training plan is also about mental preparation. Yes running is a very physical activity, but there is a strong mental component to it as well. What I mean here is that on race day your body will hurt, I can guarantee that, but itís your mind, not your legs, that makes the decision about how to handle this. Therefore, if youíre mentally prepared for what lies ahead, it will make dealing with the physical challenges youíll undoubtedly face much easier to address.

The Race Day Plan
This is something we all think about Ö what we are going to do on race day and how are we going to handle various situations. As you execute your training plan, we all run through scenarios such as the start in Hopkinton, the Wellesley College Scream Tunnel, Heartbreak Hill, and of course the finish.

Iím sure youíve wondered if you should start out slow or go out strong and see where your body takes you. If you have a set time youíre looking to finish in, what will you do to maintain the pace needed achieve it? When you hit Heartbreak, if your quads are burning, will you walk to conserve energy or just push on through? At Wellesley College, will you stop to give a girl a hug or will you continue to plow through toward the halfway point? Finally when you make the turn onto Boylston Street, will you kick it into overdrive, or just savor the moment as you see the finish line in sight? While none of us know exactly what race day will bring, we certainly like to make a plan for how we might handle various scenarios on the course.

As this is my 10th Boston race, Iíd like to say that Iíve seen it all and donít need to create a plan. However, having this knowledge only makes me more aware of what awaits me on the course and the need to create a plan for how to handle these situations. I have to say that when I think about race day and the plan I will execute, itís as much about me being practical as it is about being filled with excitement for what awaits.

The Post-race Plan
Now this is something Iíd like to believe we all think about. I mean, with all that is physically and mentally involved with preparing for and running a marathon, itís hard not to envision what you are going to do once itís over. While you are certainly going to be tired, you will also be filled with adrenaline and incredible sense of accomplishment. Now some may dream of an ice cold beer, for others itís about celebrating with loved ones and family. I bet that many of you already have your Facebook status planned or have thought about what you are going to Tweet. I have to say, that as much as I love running marathons, a big part of what motivates me to this day is thinking about how I feel once I have finished the race and accomplished my goals.

And by the way, yes I do have a post-race plan Ö Iím getting together with my wife and a bunch of friends at our neighborhood bar to celebrate running my 10th Boston Marathon and 20th marathon overall. Yes, Iím excited to run, but I also canít wait to share the experience with all my friends after the fact.

Ultimately, a marathon plan is really all about having vision. To be successful and run a marathon, you just canít be short-sighted. You need to have foresight. You need to plan on many levels.

Think of your marathon plan as your path. Whether you realize it or not, it's what has guided you from the moment you decided to register, and will continue to guide through the moment you will cross the finish line.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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