Matthew Mack is the author of "The Chubby Runner" blog, which is dedicated to helping the chubby and other non-runner types accomplish their running goals.
Training for a marathon is a lot like driving a car with its e-brake engaged. If you've ever tried to a drive a car with the emergency brake on, you're familiar with that feeling of resistance accompanied by the unpleasant smell of smoke. To remedy the problem, you could a) attempt to accelerate through the resistance, or b) simply release the brake.
Sometimes we go through life with our mental and physical e-brake on, serving as our own biggest obstacle. The same can be said for marathon training. We put up road blocks both mentally and physically, consciously and subconsciously, that impede our individual success and training progress.
There are enough obstacles that exist in the training itself that you don't need to add a double scoop of mental roadblocks and physical obstacles. Let's break it down.
Know Yourself (And Your Locale)
If you know that you're not a morning person, that you feel sluggish and unmotivated at 6 a.m., don't run at 6 a.m. Train at noon or in the evening instead. Due to the heat and humidity of the Kansas City summer, I once did a 20-mile training run at one o'clock in the morning.
If you live at the bottom of a hill and your runs are physically taxing – the proverbial "uphill battle" – then drive to the top and run down. Use gravity to your advantage. Train on easier routes, scenic routes, and downhill routes – anything to keep you interested and engaged in running. Running along Lake Michigan in Chicago is a great scenic run amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city. Along the piers in San Francisco is another of my favorite areas to run. The change of scenery may help keep you motivated.
If you live in Minnesota where it's winter eight months out of the year, get some compression leggings, a hat and gloves to keep warm – or watch the Godfather I and II (III is terrible) while running on a treadmill indoors. On the other hand, if you live in Houston, Texas, or South Florida, try to schedule your more challenging runs during cooler times during the day—much like I did with that 20-mile middle-of-the-nighter in Kansas City. Wear lighter, moisture-wicking gear, sunscreen, and sunglasses.