When I was a Group Leader for CARA, every summer we'd have a crop of newbies who were training for the Chicago Marathon for the first time. Most of them usually said the same thing, that they just wanted to finish the race.
18 weeks later they'd run the marathon and they would all finish the race. But there would inevitably always be one or two runners who were a little disappointed, sad even. I'd ask them what was wrong and the response was usually something along the lines of:
"Well I really wanted to finish with a better time." Or "I was hoping to qualify for Boston!"
Well the problem is you were not honest with me, or yourself. That's a different type of training and it involves more than just following a mileage schedule. It takes mental toughness and setting reasonable expectations. If your top speed is a 10:30 mm you are not going to break 4 hours in the marathon without some major help. On the other hand, if you are a 9 - 9:30 mm runner and you want to break 4 hours, it can be done. It might involve speed work, cross training and even diet. But it can be done.
I can't 100% guarantee you will achieve your goal but I can help you improve your chances as long as you are honest with yourself about what you want to accomplish.
As as long as we are being honest, I'd like to share that I definitely was one of those runners who always wanted to finish with a better time than my last marathon. The difference is, I certainly never kept that to myself. And I tried so hard to Boston Qualify that I ruined my knees running too many back-t0-back marathons.
It's a costly lesson but I learned from it and am applying what I learned to blogging. A lot of bloggers claim they just want to write their thoughts and thinky bits and don't give a crap about readership or page traffic. But the truth is they really really do want readers and pageviews and Algonquin Round Table discussions in the comment section. Some dream of being a blogger with an audience of Baby Sideburns, Scary Mommy or even Dooce, and that doesn't come easy.
When I first started blogging, my blog was just another boring online web journal. But then I read other blogs and thought: why can't I do that? Well, it's not as easy as it looks. Truthfully, my talent level isn't on par with the big guns of the blogosphere and honestly, I don't have the bandwidth to go there. Instead I'm using the blog writing as training for writing a book. I'm hoping that by posting in this space often enough, I will get enough practice honing my writing skills to actually pen a book someday. Hopefully my readers will help me reach my goals by providing encouragement and feedback every step of the way.
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