Minimalist Marathon: How To Select the Training Type

For five months I had fallen into a runner’s nightmarish rabbit hole of marathon training advice thanks to curiosity and a Google search window. The more reading I did, the more confused I felt, the less resilient in my stride.

Marathon training was virgin territory for me. Training plans abounded online and in books as one-size-fits-all approach left me self-diagnosing my abilities. I decided to stop thinking I could figure it out and instead enlisted an expert, but finding the right person became a recipe of variables.

Find a Parallel Energy Source. There were two local trainers that I scouted based on their credentials. I tried out their group exercise classes. First up: Mr. Barky Orders. This particular fellow nicknamed me “Rookie” and liked to scream this moniker across his circuit and spinning classes. His tactics were not motivating to me. I did not need verbal breaking down for the inspirational build up; life’s disappointments and a list of failures got that job done. The work itself should do that, not someone’s mouth.

Find the personal trainer who mirrors the energy you want in your life. Decide if his or her methodology will help you weather the ups and downs of training.

Find the personal trainer who mirrors the energy you want in your life. Decide if his or her methodology will help you weather the ups and downs of training.

The other personal trainer: Mr. Buddha-Nature. Andrew Loscutoff is one even-keeled, humble, calm, congenial fitness expert, with a catalog of exercise science, wellness, and health books lodged in his brain. He will not dispense much unless asked. And if you do ask, then he is direct, clear, and to the point. His spectrum of response is quiet to encouraging to everyone no matter his or her fitness level.

Loscutoff, a former collegiate standout athlete and elite-level mountain bike champion, embodies stillness though he labels himself Type A, as he continues to push himself outside his comfort zone and asks that you do the same for your life. “It's that living life in the comfort zone is disrespecting the gift we've been given. A life truly begins on the outside of comfort,” he said.

Seek out the kind of person who motivates and inspires you when taking on a long haul, intense goal, like training for a marathon. Our energies matched.

Find the personal trainer who mirrors the energy you want in your life. Decide if his or her methodology will help you weather the ups and downs of training.

Let Your Guard Down. I have been very honest with Loscutoff about my average 10-minute mile abilities and starting later in life to become a marathoner. I want to break that pace each day I get out there to train.

Being truthful about progress is the opening of your inner sanctuary, sometimes a successful and disappointing place at the same time.

Being truthful about progress is the opening of your inner sanctuary, sometimes a successful and disappointing place at the same time.

He knows I am not out to win the race or place in my age group. I surrender and confide daily training outcomes on a log. Surprises to disappointments dot the worksheet. Lying about progress to him or myself will not make the race easier. Sit your ego down, better yet, strap it down and tell it to be silent.

Surrender to the Poetry in Running. Some people are not very good at quiet—being quiet, listening to quiet, acting quiet. I am great at quiet. I could medal in quiet, of all things. Running and training by yourself requires intense self-time. 

Breaking through resistance, head on, leaves you with a different version of yourself on the other side. Running, you may also find, is a physical poem.

Breaking through resistance, head on, leaves you with a different version of yourself on the other side.  

Breaking through resistance, head on, leaves you with a different version of yourself on the other side.

 

When I hit those times of resistance, whatever day of the week I am training, I remember what poet Charles Wright said in a New York Times interview. “Poetry is the dark side of the moon,” he said. “It’s up there, and you can see the front of it. But what it is isn’t what you’re looking at. It’s behind what you’re looking at.”

Going into the endurance of a mental-body-spirit resistance is where I find the motivation to change and thrive. And sometimes I find the answer in a world where words do not live.

The Zen teaching of Master Lin-Chi once said, “There is a self—a true person of no rank—that just flows in and out of the holes in your face.” May your running shoes clip along the pavement and life flow through you in the cadence of go....