Training for a marathon requires a specific kind of dedication that borders on completely insane. Find a marathoner, and you will find someone who refuses to take no for an answer. Someone who will not accept defeat. Someone who not only agrees to put their body through torture but pays good money to do it, along with literal tears, sweat, and yes, even their own blood. All for a t-shirt.
Basically what I'm saying is, find a marathoner, and you should probably run away because they're crazy, and if you aren't careful they'll lure you into the madness.
After doing it myself, I do not recommend training for a winter marathon. It's hard, and it's cold, and it's just kind of crappy. How's that for an endorsement? Also, if an icepocalypse hits, it just might mean you are forced to do your long runs inside on a treadmill, which is really hard and crappy, although not as cold.
One Saturday in mid-December, I found myself heading toward the gym, trying to pump myself up for a long 20-miler on the dread of runners everywhere. I didn't want to do it, but I could not run outside. There was ice an inch thick covering everything in sight, and I did not want to risk slipping and hurting myself three weeks before my second marathon.
I sincerely hope none of you ever have to do it, but should you find yourself in this kind of situation, here's what I did to make it, if not my favorite run ever, at least bearable.
1. Think Positive Thoughts
Accept the fact that it's going to be terrible, but don't focus on it. Motivate yourself with an inspiring pep talk on your way to the gym so that by the time you get there, you're in a good frame of mind. Trust me, you'll need it.
2. Stake Out Your Spot
You know you're going to be in there for at least a few hours (or if you're me and you're running 20 miles, try four and a half), so make sure you get the best spot possible. Try to face the TV straight so you don't have to twist your neck sideways while you're running. Also, spread your stuff out everywhere. People need to know this is your area.
3. Start Slow. I Mean Really Slow.
This isn't a sprint to the finish. You're the tortoise in this scenario, and your only goal is to finish. It's not going to be pretty, but you're going to get it done. I don't know about you, but for me, running on the treadmill at the same pace I run outside is nearly impossible. Outside, a 10-minute pace feels slooow, but on the treadmill, a 10-minute pace is almost too fast!
When I do long treadmill runs, I completely remove time from the picture and focus on the mileage. DO NOT think you are some Olympic sprinter and try to race the dude on the treadmill next to you. It won't end well for you.
Hypothetically speaking, of course. I've never tried to race anyone on the treadmill.
4. Break It Up
This is, in my opinion, the MOST important part of long treadmill runs. I did not go into the gym thinking about running 20 miles on the treadmill. If I had, I would have never gone in the first place.
Instead, I focused on running 4 miles at a time. After every 4 miles, I got off the treadmill, took a drink of water, took a bite of my protein bar, texted Jordan my progress (this was not because he cared but because it felt nice to tell someone), and then got back on. It was a short break, maybe 1 minute or so, but breaking my 20 miles into 5 chunks of 4 made a 100% difference in my attitude and really is what kept the run from not being quite as terrible as I anticipated (this was also probably due to my amazing pep talk [see #1]). I couldn't fathom running on a treadmill for 270 minutes, but I could certainly do it for 40.
And so I did.
If it ever came down to it, I know you could run long on the treadmill too. (In fact, Jessica did it just last weekend!)
10 Tips for Beating Treadmill Boredom (Mile Posts)
Treadmill Workout: 5 Miles in 50 Minutes (from my archives)
What's the farthest you've run on the treadmill?
Do you have any good tips for surviving a long treadmill run?