Marathon training: embracing the chaos

“Controlled Chaos”

Marathon training.  What’s not to love?  Runs that are measured in double digits or by hours. Routinely covering  30-40 miles a week, maybe more.  Injuries.  Pseudo-injuries. Reading up on how to avoid injuries. Setting your alarm to go off before dawn.  Falling asleep by 8pm (ok, maybe that’s just me and my pre-dawn alarm talking).  Needing a nap during the day but there’s this little thing called a ‘job’ getting in the way of that nap.  Hill repeats.  Speed work.  Cross training.  Stretching.  Foam rolling.  Eating.  Let’s be honest – eating a lot.  The stress of juggling work, family, friends, and a marathon training plan…  Things get a little chaotic.

“Controlled chaos”… that’s what I like to call the time period from about 10-12 weeks out lasting through marathon day.

The controlled part is your training plan, your guide.  Your vision every night before you go to sleep of what you want the next workout to look like, to feel like.  Your vision of how you want your actual race to go weeks down the road.  Your vision is under your control.  Planning ahead is under your control.  Carving out a training plan is under your control.  Executing the training plan is under your control.

In my mind the chaos is everything else.  Things happening to us that are outside of our control.  Unforeseen life events that don’t have a spot on our training plan.  Outside influences that interfere with our vision, with our ability to execute our carefully made plans.

Chaos usually seems synonymous with mayhem, disorder, unpredictability – right?  Why would someone preparing for a marathon want to embrace chaos?

Filling the void

I recently looked up the origin of the word chaos and found one interpretation indicating that it is derived from the concept of a gaping void, a chasm.

I don’t know about anyone else, but as a marathon runner the idea of encountering chasms and gaping voids is not exactly what I consider to be my comfort zone.

Then again, isn’t that why we train for so long and with such purpose?

Our training process is designed to bridge the chasm from where we are now in our physical state to where we want to be months down the road.  We may be seeking a new challenge, a new accomplishment, a renewed sense of who we are and what we’re capable of.  We may even find ourselves filling a void that we didn’t know existed until we started down this path.

“Controlled chaos”… Establishing your plan.   Visualizing your success.  Following through on your training plan, filling in the gaps along the way.  Pushing through barriers and challenges.  Believing in the process.  Showing up to the starting line prepared.  Executing to the best of your ability  on race day.  Looking back on your accomplishment and seeing how far you’ve come.

If this is chaos, it sounds pretty good to me.

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Controlling the chaos at Big Sur International Marathon 2016.











Published by

Tricia Reed McGinn

Early morning runner, travel marathoner, newbie triathlete.

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