How to Manage the Highs and Lows of Training

The thing I love most about marathon training—and sport in general—is its application to life. As in life, there are always ups and downs. Some days go perfectly and some days just don't.

There are days when you feel like you could run forever and days when you can't muster the motivation to even step out the door. I have learned to love this part of the ride when I am training for a marathon and to respect that it comes with the territory.

More: 4 Tips to Stay Motivated on Your Long Run

During the last month, however, I have been on a roller coaster ride unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I've had difficulty finishing my runs and have bonked—or crashed—on almost all of my long runs.

I've had a difficult time keeping up with friends on group runs and have had to walk up many hills. I've been feeling like a beginner—like someone who hasn't run much before. My mind wants to go but my body just can't.

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I knew something was up, so I got a blood test and found out that I was anemic, or deficient in iron. The iron deficiency impacts how quickly blood moves through my body, which explains my shortness of breath, the difficulty I've had running, and my fatigue in general.

I've been on iron supplements for about two weeks now and am slowly starting to feel like my old self again. If I continue with my supplements, my iron stores are likely to be at the low range of normal by the time I toe the line at the Boston Marathon.

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I believe things like this happen for a reason. This experience has made me realize several things that allow me to work better with others:

  • It made me reflect upon what it's like for someone to start running who has never done it before.
  • It made me realize how difficult it can be to stay positive about exercising, yourself and your performance—something I've trained my mind to do because I know it helps me perform to my potential.

More: 4 Mental Tips for Long-Distance Runners

During this recent low, I struggled to stay positive. In life and training, you will also experience ups and downs. Things don't always go as planned. Here are a few tips to help you manage those highs and lows:

1. Expect both highs and lows.

This is true in life, and in sport specifically. If you realize that every day cannot and will not be perfect, you will be able to brush off the bad days more easily. I tell my clients to have a short-term memory when it comes to a bad workout, race or performance. Instead, focus and remember the good workouts, races and performances because that will build confidence.

More: 4 Running Setbacks and How to Handle Them

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