Quality, not Quantity:
Here we are in our first week of training for the 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. While some of us are experienced marathoners--veterans of multiple (or one) previous marathons--many of us are running a marathon for the first time.
But all of us have several things in common. We share a healthy respect for the distance of the marathon; we are all training to complete 26.2 miles, preparing to cross the finish line (this year live and in person) with a smile on our face on October 10, 2021, in Grant Park, Downtown Chicago. We have selected our training schedule, maybe we’ve even looked through the entire season of workouts with some trepidation, wondering about running 26.2 miles, training for 18 weeks and what we might discover about ourselves. We have set our preliminary goals and will be working hard to reach them.
The way to achieve our goals is to put “Quality over Quantity” into our training. Successful training and racing results from the Quality of our training more than the Quantity of miles run. Make each workout have meaning and notice how each workout fits into the ultimate goal on October 10.
Workouts are defined by distance (or time) and intensity. The schedules provide the distance to run or run-walk. The intensity level will vary. During the first few weeks of training most of us need to find our ‘comfort zone’ while running. We often run too fast and feel extraordinarily fatigued at the end of the run. Sometimes we finish a workout in the first few weeks and feel so good that we think we have not run hard enough!
Not every workout can be, nor should be, longer, faster or harder than the one before. Certain workouts are meant to be easier on our bodies than the long runs or speed workouts. You'll note that the training schedule contain a variety of workouts, and some workouts are designed to be run slower or shorter than others. This is intentional and meant to prepare you for the best performance on race day.
And there will be times when we cannot fit in the entire workout scheduled for a particular day. Running a Quality workout, even for a shorter time or distance will be better than running when injured or stressed for time.
Our respective goals for the season are internal and unique within each of us. The Quality of our training helps us strive to achieve, and likely change, our goals over the next four (plus) months.
Emil Zatopek was a Czech runner who in the 1952 Olympics won the 5000 Meter, 10,000 Meter and Marathon Gold medals, setting Olympic records at each distance. He also provided sage advice about goals when he said “When you set your aim too high and don’t fulfill it, then your enthusiasm turns to bitterness. Try for a goal that’s reasonable, and then gradually raise it.”
Be conservative at the start of training; know that the intensity level will increase as the season goes along.
Most training schedules are based upon various fitness levels. Some schedules have more training days and mileage than others. But it is the dedication and desire of each of us; the Quality of our training, balanced with our families, work, social commitments; and our natural abilities that will help us reach the goals we’ve set.
Make each run count, to the best of our ability on any given day. The end result will be a successful training and race day experience.
“Good form will carry you through”®