Choose the race
The first step is to choose an event in which you wish to run. If you are in Coimbatore, the choice is made easier with the annual Coimbatore Marathon held on the first Sunday of October. Some runners plan their marathons along with their business or personal travels by finding events closer to their destinations.
While there is a plethora of plans available on the Internet, the best would be the one you make for yourself, that balances your personal and professional commitments along with the running schedules. First,block the dates on which you are needed most for other activities. Next, line up your long runs — the maximum being 80% of the race distance — three weeks ahead of the event. Then, spot the gaps and fill in with mid-week runs, which include a variety of sprints and slow runs. Finally, top it up with adequate rests, stretches and strengthening workouts.
If your run is outside your home town, it is best to plan the travel and stay well in advance. Find hotel rooms close to the event venue to get the best out of the run. If travelling outside India, get the visas well in advance.
Find your support
Speak to friends about the run, training plans, and your periodic progress. Seeking opinions from diverse audience enhances your planning and reinforces your conviction to accomplish your goal. Through social media, one can expect motivation and help from unknown quarters too. If you intend to run for a cause, it gives a wonderful opportunity to speak about it too.
Even if your run is going to be all about you, it is important to have a group in which you find the strength to see yourself through the distance. Runners should learn not only from their own experience, but also that of others. The support from running groups often extends to assistance in planning the trip as well as stay arrangements. Of course, they are the best to celebrate with, once the race is accomplished.
As a part of your training plan, assign a few intermittent milestones to measure your progress, as well as reward yourself.If you are planning to run a marathon, the 30K runs or the fastest 10K during the training phase can be celebrated.
Live the journey
It is important not to see running events as an examination or a mundane ritual. This is a challenge that you have set for yourself and you start looking to make changes in your routine to help you accomplish it. Every training run is an experience by itself and a step towards the finish.
Visualise the finish
Do this either by watching videos of the past editions or through a picture of the finish line. I have the picture of Brandenburg Gate, through which one finishes the Berlin Marathon, on my work desktop. It is a powerful tool to help us stay focussed on what we wish to accomplish and relish when we actually accomplish.
At times, the thought of seeing yourself at the finish line with the medal and celebrating with your near and dear ones will take you through the tough phases of training.
S Balaji is a long-distance runner who has participated in marathons such as the Comrades and Two Oceans. He is currently training for the Berlin Marathon