Running Past Obstacles in Your Marathon Training

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Each of us face obstacles and roadblocks on our way to reaching our running goals.

We can either let them stop us or we can problem solve and find a way to get past these hindrances. Each time you do something hard it loses some of its power over you. Slowly you take the power away from your fear.

Let’s look at some specific obstacles and how to overcome them.

Common Obstacles in Marathon Training. . .

Lack of Time

Finding the time to run and train for a marathon is a common challenge. Most of us have full-time jobs, families, and other commitments. Usually when people on Facebook comment that they don’t have time to train for a marathon, other people will comment back with something like, “I get up at 4am to get my run in so that I can get my four kids to school and get to my full-time job on time.” This illustrates the point that it can be done.

Finding time to run is such an important topic that we have a whole lesson on this subject in the Academy. Listen to this quote by Charles Bixton. “You will never find the time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” Essentially, finding time to train for a marathon comes down to being intentional.


Excess weight can seem like a barrier to reaching your running goals. On one hand you want to run to lose the weight. But on the other hand, running with extra weight can be difficult and put you at risk for injury. Here are some tips to help you reach your weight loss and running goals at the same time. The first tip is to:

  1. Lose the Weight Mentally: You may have mental barriers that you must overcome to see the weight come off. You need to start adopting the mindset of a healthy, fit person. Ask yourself, is this something a runner would do? Start to see the person you want to be and make your choices accordingly.
  2. Start Moving: Don’t be afraid to start slowly. You may get discouraged by seeing the person on the treadmill next to you flying along effortlessly, but tell yourself that it will be you someday.
  3. Invest in Yourself: Buy yourself some running shoes and exercise clothes that make you feel good. This will give you more confidence and you’ll be more likely to keep up your exercise routine.
  4. Feed the Body You Want to Have: Make food choices by keeping your fitness and health goals in mind. Honestly ask yourself if a certain food item and amount is going to benefit you. For example, cut out caloric beverages and replace them with a no-calorie substitute.
  5. Evaluate the Other Areas of Your Life: Make sure that your environment, stress level, sleep, and relationships are healthy. There are many aspects that contribute to becoming a fit and confident runner.


There are a few different responses to hills. Some people avoid them, some hate them, and some tackle them. When I visit my sisters in PA I’m suddenly confronted by hills everywhere. It used to intimidate and embarrass me as I found myself walking in the middle of a hill. However, I decided to see them as a challenge and enjoy the training benefits that hills bring. My mantra for conquering them was “hills are speed-work in disguise.”

Use good running form on hills. Let your gaze guide you as you keep your eyes in front of you. Don’t look at your feet. Stay relaxed. Run tall and don’t hunch over. Press forward with your hips and lean slightly into the hill. Keep your steps short and pick up your knees to increase your stride rate. Spring up from your toes to create more lift.


Injury can be a big obstacle that people face on the way to achieving their running goals. Unfortunately runners do have a high rate of injury and this can lead some people to conclude that they “can’t” run a marathon.

However, I know from experience that you can overcome injury and become a life-long runner. I have personally come back from injury and know that it is possible to stay healthy and run multiple marathons.

I believe that injury prevention comes down to having the right mindset. Injury prevention is such an important topic that we have a whole course inside the Academy to help people master it.

It’s important to use the right running dynamics like having good form and making provisions for personal safety. Having the proper footwear can also make or break your marathon training. It is estimated that 50% of runners are wearing the wrong shoes. I also strongly believe in the value of focused cross training. You need to be building overall strength and flexibility and balancing your hard work with rest.

Whatever the issue, you can prevail. There will be times when all of us will fail. Don’t beat yourself up. Just get up and keep going again. Don’t make excuses why you can’t succeed and don’t compare yourself to others. This is your journey. It all comes down to having the right mindset, good information, and the commitment work hard.

Quick Tip

Here a three websites with marathon and half marathon directories:

I like the best because it has participant reviews and a directory for finding races outside of the United States.

Leave a comment at the end of this post about what obstacle you’re working to overcome and what spring race you’ll be doing.

8 Responses to Running Past Obstacles in Your Marathon Training

  1. Trevor January 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    I feel like I have to overcome the obstacle of my own sluggishness every time I am scheduled to run. But, I never regret making myself do it.

  2. Trevor C February 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    I recently volunteered at the Hypothermic Half in Ottawa and saw 100s of people running in -21C weather. At the end every beard and exposed hair was pure white from the frost but the cheeks were rosy.

    If they can run 21.1km in that I can do my 18km if it is only -18C. Like Angie says, the first couple miles are the toughest.

    On a side note our Race Weekend 1/2 Marathon in Ottawa sold out 4 months in advance, 11,300 spots and that is an increase of about 2000 from last year. Organizers are expecting 42,000 runners this year.

    • Angie February 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      Hey Trevor. The Hypothermic Half sounds like a great event. I think that people are looking for a way to get out of their usual winter routine and a race is the perfect challenge. I hope that the Ottawa 1/2 continues to grow in popularity!

  3. Robinson Mertilus February 11, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Great post and podcast. Very timely too. I believe I am suffering from Metatarsalgia so I have been sidelined for the past 3 days with my race coming up this March. Still optimistic that it will turn out well. Wish me well.

    • Angie February 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      Hi Robinson. I’m sorry to hear that you’re dealing with injury. Take the time to let it heal and stay positive. You’re better off going into the race healthy and slightly undertrained then side-lined with injury. Good luck!

  4. Roger February 15, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Hey Trevor and Angie-

    Thanks for a great list! I’ve had to find these solutions myself and it’s good to hear it from others.

    Time: I normally get up at 5 and am back from a run or any other workout before everyone else is out of bed. I know that if I can’t get a run in before the 3 kids get up, the idea is shot for the day.

    Weight: Currently 230 pounds, so the running is one way I’m dropping weight. I actually have a bet going with my wife that I can lose as much or more weight than she gains during her current pregnancy. Her standard is 40 pounds.

    Hills: Love ’em. There aren’t many in Kansas, so I jump at any hill chance I get.

    Injury: Currently having a bit of tendinopathy in the achilles tendon, so I’m spending much of this week in the pool or on a bike.

    I enjoy listening to the podcast on runs and hearing the progress being made not just in your listeners, but you two as well. I’m shooting for my first marathon in October here in Wichita, hopefully as a lighter man.


    • Angie February 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      Hi Roger. It’s great to have you in the MTA community. Thanks for sharing your experience with overcoming obstacles. All the best as you shed those pounds and look forward to a fall marathon!

  5. February 11, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    “Running Past Obstacles in Your Marathon Training | Marathon Training
    Academy” was indeed a terrific blog post.
    If it owned more pics this would be even even better. All
    the best -Christa

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