Training for a marathon takes a lot more time and energy than this spoonie realized.
When I first decided to sign up for our local Lake-to-Lake Marathon, which follows an old rail bed trail from Shawnigan Lake to Lake Cowichan, I didn’t even think about how much of my time would be taken up with walk training. I was thinking how cool it would be to walk the whole distance in the woods, to see the views from all the trestles along the way, and to victoriously cross the 42 km finish line. It’s surprisingly easy to imagine the finish line when you haven’t started training yet.
I’ve been training for a month and am now at the stage where I’m increasing my distance to the mid-teens. At my usual pace, which is about 10:30 min per km and keeps me in my target heart rate zone, I take just over 2 hrs to walk 12 km, and will need 2 hrs 30 min to walk 15 km. What about when I get up to 20 km per training walk, assuming I keep the same pace? I’ll need almost 3 hrs and 20 min to finish it. And think of the walk itself – at this pace I’ll be walking from 8 am sharp until at least 3 pm. What have I gotten myself into??
All this walking is seriously difficult to fit into a day, especially when I have to sleep extra because the walking itself has made me quite tired. I’m starting to wonder whether I can even do the training, let alone the walk itself, given the limited energy I have in a day that has to be distributed across a number of things.
It’s also hard to find places to walk that are safe at specific times of day and provide a long enough trail to do the full distance.
Right now I walk at the Cowichan Estuary after dinner because it’s an open landscape and the trail is well-used, so it’s relatively safe for a woman on her own. But the loop walk is only 4 km, so the other day I walked it three times to meet my 12 km goal. This can get a bit boring. I also do out-and-back walks the trestle trail, which is the actual trail on which the race will happen. But it’s not a safe space after dinner. I have to go during the day when there are more people using it, and even then I take my bear spray – and not just for bears, which I could easily run into out there. As summer progresses and the days get hotter, I have to be on the trestle trail before lunch to make sure I don’t overheat in the afternoon sun.
I have to admit that, despite the estuary loop walk being somewhat boring relative my walks on the trestle trail, I enjoy letting my mind wander while I walk. I think about writing, life, whether or not I’ll be able to finish the race, etc. I write blog posts and book reviews in my head. Then I have to make time to do my writing so all those ideas actually get on paper.
It’s also been a great way to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. And it’s kept me off the computer quite a bit because there’s not much time for it in between walking, eating, writing, sleeping, house chores, and dog responsibilities. It’s still hard to juggle everything, though.
For example, yesterday I moved a couple of yards of soil and planted a new garden bed in our front yard. After all that physical labour, I didn’t have it in me to do a walk that evening, though the evening before I’d done two loops at the estuary. And today I have a lunch with friends, so I won’t be able to do a walk at the trestle during the day – I’ll have to do loops at the estuary after dinner instead (assuming I haven’t used up all my energy by being social). I don’t want to miss too many training days because 42 km is a long way to go, and I have to be prepared on race day.
One option to shake things up a bit is to walk some of the hill trails around our area. I won’t be able to keep up my regular pace as they have a lot more elevation change than the estuary and trestle trails. But it would give me walking practice just the same – and a bit of variety which is always welcome.
I will definitely need to rethink my daily schedule as my walks get longer. I might have to figure out how to get up earlier, as my medications make it hard to get up before 8.30 am and stay up past 10 pm, plus I need a 2.5 hour nap in the afternoon. I might have to go to bed at 9 pm just so I can get up earlier to go for a walk. But even these plans can be scuppered by days when I have to stay in bed, like I had to several times last week. There were a few days where all I did was sleep, eat, and walk.
I also worry about what I’m not doing. I’m not riding my bike much. I haven’t been to the pool in ages. I also have to be protective of my writing time. But I have to remember that I have limited time and energy, and for now I’ve committed to doing this walk, which logically means I can’t do everything. I have to prioritize, and can get back into cycling and swimming after the walk is done. Though I imagine I’ll sleep for a few weeks once I’ve finished the walk itself lol!
If you have any training tips – or even just an encouraging note – I’d love to read them in the comments.