Back in grad school, my friend Kevin’s thermostat setting hovered somewhere in the 50s from late October to early spring.
No matter how cold it got in the dead of an Ohio winter, his thermostat didn’t budge. No amount of his girlfriend’s protests over having to wear socks and sweats to bed or the ribbing he got about being cheap would change his mind. Kevin’s determination to keep his heating bill low would always win out – no matter what anyone said or did. I’m pretty sure there were times when even he was bothered or uncomfortable by the cold temperature in his apartment, but he never wavered. The heat simply was not going to get turned up.
At first blush, you wouldn’t think that Kevin keeping his thermostat ridiculously low during winter months would have anything to do with becoming a better runner, but stick with me here.
Why do you do what you do?
Runners who train for any type of race longer than a half marathon have probably heard some variation of this question at some point or another. People who couldn’t fathom running more than a mile often ask this question incredulously. I’m sure we’ve all heard “why do you run that far if someone isn’t chasing you?” more than we care to admit.
When you stop and think about it, it’s actually a really good question.
Just like Kevin’s decision to keep the heat low, you’re probably not training for a marathon for the sake of doing it.
Maybe you’re trying to cross something off a bucket list or you’re going for a PR. Maybe you’re raising money to help support an organization or charity you believe in. Regardless, you have a reason to go for two and three hour training runs.
It would have been easy for him to give in to peer pressure and turn up the heat while he had friends over or to bump the heat up into the 60s at night, but that would have also bumped his low heating bill up. Similarly, if you were to cede training mileage due to peer pressure, chances are pretty good that you’re not going to do as well as you’d like in your race.
Just like Kevin had a pretty good idea how much his heating bill would be each month, you probably have a pretty good idea of what you need to do to be ready for your race. The biggest difference is that more often than not, the “peer pressure” you experience during marathon training comes from within. Whether it’s that little voice that psyches you out during your longer training runs or it’s your ability to rationalize not running, it’s up to you to quiet those doubts/voices.
I’m pretty sure Kevin just ignored anyone who gave him crap about the temperature in his apartment. Ignoring naysayers during your training will only get you so far. You have to keep reminding yourself why you’re training and why you set your ambitious running goal to begin with.
Having said that, we all can take a cue from my buddy Kevin and do what we need to do. Set your thermostat – or your goals – and don’t let anyone or anything get in your way.