As I train for my third marathon, I've been able to focus less on the miles scheduled for the week and focus more on the structure of the program and it's purpose. For those that don't know, when you're training to run 26.2 miles, you never actually run that far before the race. One common training program (Hal Higdon) has you peak at "only" 20 miles. And that's three weeks before the race!
While I understood this concept in 2007 when I first did Madison Marathon, the years have allowed me to familiarize myself with the program, the design, and most importantly my body. Having gone through the program three times now, I can confidently talk about training for a marathon with any novice runner.
Lately I've been reaping the benefits of training. The human body is designed to be able to run 26.2 miles. Not everyone can do this because too many of us let our bodies go. But with proper training, I feel like I could get most people to complete a marathon. And this is because of the power of training. Think about training. It's not something you figure out over night, in a week, or a month. People take years to be properly trained on a piece of equipment or proficient at a job.
And training for a run is no different. My marathon training program for the Lakefront (Milwaukee) Marathon on October 4th included two 20-mile runs. This is an advanced workout that I was trying for the first time since I'm looking to improve on my run from this spring. I'm happy to report that the first 20-miler was going so well that I extended it to 21 miles. Then the second 20-miler was going well (training!) that I extended it to 23.5 miles. If you haven't had the feeling of your body getting stronger, you're missing out.
So after 17+ weeks of training, I'm tapering. The program is set up such that your body decreases its workout load for the last two weeks of the training so that you're ready for maximal effort on race day. I remember feeling this three days before my first marathon in 2007. I came home from a short run and told Katie "I'm ready to go." I could just feel my body's strength and even pent-up energy during my taper. This was because I was used to so much higher mileage, my body was under-performing. And that would change in three days when I would ask it to run 26.2.
When is the last time you trained for something? It doesn't have to be a marathon. It doesn't have to be athletic. But when is the last time you felt yourself noticably get better or stronger in an area?