Why I Chose STWM As My First Marathon And How I Plan To Get There!

TORONTO June 18th 2015. Digital Champion Mike Van Mil took up running after hearing about all the achievements of his runner friends and the camaraderie of the running world. A year ago he set the goal of running the Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half-Marathon and he hasn’t looked back since! When Mike’s not running, he works full and part time as a paramedic in the GTA. You can also find him at the hockey rink and dance studio cheering on his two children or enjoying family trips to Disney. Connect with Mike on Twitter, Instagram, and his blog.

Why I Chose STWM As My First Marathon And How I Plan To Get There. By Mike Van Mil

Firsts are amazing things aren’t they?  First love, first kiss, first house, first child, first car… This could go on forever.  All significant times in your life that you will remember for the rest of your life.  And if you have any control over when, where and how they happen, you do everything you can to make sure they are special and shared with your family and friends.  So when it came time to select my very first marathon the choice was easy. Probably the only easy thing about running my first marathon!  I wanted my first to be right here at home where my family and friends could cheer me on!  A marathon where I was comfortable and familiar with my surroundings, the route, and the organizers.  There are quite a few marathons in the GTA and I needed to find one that suited me and my needs.  The choice for me actually came quite quickly and easily.  I selected the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for a few reasons:

1. I have already established a relationship Mike Van Mil Blog Image 1with Canada Running Series as a Digital Champion for the 2015 Toronto Yonge Street 10k. This means I already have a good idea of the high caliber races CRS puts on and the amazing management team they have to ensure the whole process, from sign up to race day, goes off without a hitch.

2. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is held right here at home which makes it easy for my friends and family to come cheer for me on race day.

3. This race fits very well with my training goals and race calendar.

4. The course is quite flat and runs right along the lake, which will mean cooler temps and inspiring views!

So how the heck am I going to stay motivated over the next 4 months to get longer and longer runs in, without feeling daunted or overwhelmed? Self doubt has a nasty way of creeping into my brain sometimes, trying to take over my thought process. This is where motivation and visualization have to kick in.  My biggest motivation when I’m training is to visualize running the marathon and to remind myself that I need to be prepared for it, both in my legs and in my lungs.  The only way to prepare is to start months ahead and just run!  I will get the miles under my belt, gradually increasing my distance every week.  For me, the body is kind of like a sloth; it is very slow to react and because of this you need to tax it slowly over time, with increasing levels of exertion. Thankfully I really enjoy running! It is a wonderful stress relief for me after a busy shift at work.  I also find having a running partner or group greatly improves motivation. For me it’s my wife.  Since we do a lot of our races together, we are on the same training plans. We lift each other up and keep each other motivated.

To be completely honest, I don’t really know the first thing about training for a marathon!  For all my past races my training really had no plan or structure.  It simply involved getting out when I could and gradually increasing my mileage and run/walk intervals.  I think, though, that training for a marathon, which is twice the distance I’ve ever completed, requires a plan and a structure to be successful.  The plan I have selected begins on July 1st and slowly builds from there. It starts with 3 runs per week and slowly progresses to 4 runs per week. I will admit that I am a little daunted by the structure, the miles, and the amount of time required in the last few months of the plan.  If you don’t know a lot about me, I work a full and part time job with 12 hour shifts.  That presents a whole set of challenges to my training as well as my family life, but that’s a whole topic for another time.  Suffice it to say I need to buckle down, not make excuses, and find the time to get my training runs in, while still fulfilling all my other obligations.

“Make time for the run; the run will not make time for you!”

Mike Van Mil Blog Image 2I am really looking forward to this whole adventure.  I am excited to see where this will bring me when it’s all done.  I may love it and I may hate it but I am trying to leave expectations at the door and see what happens.  I have chosen not to set a time goal for myself either. With this being my first marathon I really want to just experience 42.2k without the pressure of abiding by a time.  I’m sure there will come a time in the future where I will set marathon time goals for myself, but for now I’m going to ride this train and see where it takes me.   I don’t doubt that there will be ups and downs and I am not afraid to share them with you. My hope is that one of you may also have the same concerns or issues that I do and you will take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.  If you are, please let me know because I also take comfort in knowing that what I am experiencing throughout this journey is normal.  I truly believe that this is going to be one of those firsts that I will remember for the rest of my life!  I am so thankful that I get to experience it right here at home with my closest family and friends!  Thank you Canada Running Series for giving me that opportunity as well as the ability share my experience with all of you!

#KeepSmilin 🙂