Another gray, dismal, cool, wet day. Sigh. And my training plan for today called for mile repeats on the track. On Sunday it was 22 miles in similar weather. In fact most of my long runs and track sessions have been in lousy weather as I’ve trained for the Philadelphia Marathon in mid-November.

As I sat at my desk this morning looking out the window, willing the sun to shine, I remembered the words of Alan Brookes, the coach for my first marathon training program 20 years ago (and now race director of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.) “You can’t cheat the marathon”. In other words, to run a marathon requires doing the training. Putting in the miles. Period. No debates or whining changes things. Training in lousy weather? “Mental discipline” was his response.

Track workout on a rare sunny day.

Track workout on a rare sunny day.

So out I went today, yawning as I ran over to the track saying to myself that I don’t have to run fast if I don’t want to. I’ll set a reasonable pace. As long as I put some effort into the workout it will be good enough and I can get back home where it is warm and dry.

It wasn’t long before I was grinning. At the end of my first mile repeat I was 15 seconds faster than the ‘reasonable’ pace I set initially. Second repeat was 30 seconds faster. Third repeat was 45 seconds faster. I let out a big yahoo when I was done feeling energized and excited knowing this was my last hard workout before the marathon and it had been a good one. My body, mind and spirit were ready.

I also had a good chuckle at myself. Again. All that whining and then, as usual, I thoroughly enjoyed my workout. After 16 marathons, I still have to overcome my resistance to hard work. It’s all about the commitment.

Like any endeavor or activity we pursue, we need to set a clear intention and be willing to commit to achieving the goal. We need a project plan that outlines the activities that will enable us to achieve our goal including ‘due dates’. And then we have to do the work. We have to train. We have to practice. Whether running, writing or starting a business, we have to exercise mind over matter and ‘just do it’. What may seem insurmountable is attainable with committed, focused action.

If we wait for perfect conditions, they will never happen. Our plans and dreams will remain plans and dreams versus reality and accomplishment. When we have intention with attention, the challenges become easier. We perform better and our confidence grows.

"Training is principally an act of faith. The athlete must believe in its efficacy: [s]he must believe that through training [s]he will become fitter and stronger." Franz Stampfl (left) - Coach to Roger Bannister (centre) for the 4 Minute Mile.

“Training is principally an act of faith. The athlete must believe in its efficacy: [s]he must believe that through training [s]he will become fitter and stronger.” Franz Stampfl (left) – Coach to Roger Bannister (centre) for the 4 Minute Mile.

During my last long run in lousy conditions, I felt the strongest and ran most consistently throughout the run. Of all my track workouts, I felt stronger and faster today than any previous track sessions, including the one in the picture above on a beautiful sunny day!

While I was whining initially, I had set my intention and stuck to my commitment to follow my training plan. As a result I now have a positive connection to lousy conditions knowing I am prepared for anything on race day. As Franz Stampfl said, training really is an act of faith…that pays off. The reward? Mental discipline for any conditions that you might face and confidence that you will accomplish your goal. Or maybe even exceed it!

I don’t know what will happen on race day. That’s the lure of the marathon…

Please share your stories of commitment, mental discipline and accomplishment in the comments section. I appreciate hearing other people’s experiences.

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