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Marathon Training Update: A Lesson in Perseverance From My Son

Some weeks life aligns in such a way that running becomes secondary to other, more important/essential pursuits. Such it was that what was supposed to be the final big week of this marathon training cycle aligned with my final week of classes, final exam prep, and office/lab clean-out and packing. I’m giving a final exam to my Exercise Physiology class tomorrow, and my goal is to be fully moved out by the end of the coming week. So far I’m making slow but steady progress – it’s amazing how much stuff I’ve accumulated in the past 10 years!

Needless to say, I prioritized tying up my multitude of loose ends at the day job over running during the week (and blogging for that matter), and managed only about 10 miles total. In a way this was maybe a good thing given how fried my legs were last weekend.

I also knew that this weekend was going to be shot as well. Today my wife is at all day yoga-teacher training so I’m hanging with the kids (i.e., no long run possible). Yesterday I took my oldest son to compete in his first Taekwondo tournament. It was an all-day event, and I got to watch him take home a gold medal in board-breaking for his age group, and a bronze in sparring. I couldn’t have been more proud!

Anders Board Breaking

Jump Turning Back-Kick For The Gold!

The highlight of the day for me came after he lost his first sparring match in sudden-death overtime. He was broken up and in tears, and told me he just wanted to go home (he’s an incredibly competitive kid, and the loss stung). We had a talk about how doing your best is all that really matters, and I told him how proud I was that he was brave enough to take on the challenge that sparring presents. It takes guts for a kid his age to want to spar, and as a Taekwondo practitioner myself the thought of participating in an event like this scares me (as a runner, I also fear hurting my feet…). In fact, I may have been more nervous than he was – watching your kid fight is pretty tough, but he was really excited to do it. He pulled himself together and came back to win his second match 9-5. He looked at me after they pronounced him winner with eyes beaming. It was an incredible feeling.

Anders Ready

Ready to Fight

Anders Fight

Sizing Up His Opponent

Anders Pep Talk

Pep Talk Between Rounds

My son learned a life-lesson that will stick with him for a long time, and it’s one that we runners know all to well – defeat will happen on occasion, but you need to put it behind you and come back even stronger next time. Anders came back from his loss to win a medal, whereas if he had given up and gone home he would not have placed.

This lesson is one that I will carry with me into the coming week as I look to put a lousy training week behind me and come back to tackle my final 20+ mile run on Tuesday. Anders will also be on my mind come mile 20 of the marathon in a few weeks– I think I have found my source of strength for when the going gets tough. Last week is now behind me, it’s time to push forward!

Anders Taekwondo

Showing Off the Hardware!

For those who have been keeping an eye on my training plans, here’s what Caleb has prescribed for the coming week taking into account my lousy training week last week:

Monday: OFF or short run (Final Exam day)

Tuesday: 21 total miles. Run 10 miles at normal easy long run pace. Stop and put on your marathon race shoes, then run 3 x 3-mile @ MP (again, either moderate effort or shoot for PR MP) with 1 mile easy in between MP segments. So, you will finish the workout with the last 3 miles at MP. This is to simulate the late-race feeling as much as possible. Fuel on planned marathon intervals throughout this long workout.  I also like to wear my race day singlet and shorts for this run, to make it as much of a dress rehearsal as possible.

Wednesday: Short clearance run.  4 miles with 5 x 30 seconds strides.

Thursday: Non-run day.

Friday: Easy run with strides. 7-8 miles with 10 x 20 seconds hard (40 seconds in between the hard segments).

Saturday: Non-run day.

Sunday: 13-14 miles, very easy.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Gary Whorwood says:

    Nice story. It’s amazing what can learn from and through our kids. One of the big things I’ve learnt from mine is that we are all individuals with very different strengths and weaknesses. You can’t be good at everything and nobody’s good at nothing.

  2. To quote the great philosopher, Jack Handy, “The face of a child can say a thousand words. Especially the mouth part.”.

  3. Soekawan Holip says:

    Great post Pete, it’s amazing how much children have to teach us “adults,” if we’ll just listen and observe. Thanks

  4. Nora Mancuso(Mamarunsbarefoot) says:

    That was a wonderful story!!! YES we learn so much from defeat and I believe more than when we win.

  5. Aaron Mundy says:

    I know the feeling. Had horrible training cycle this spring/winter, but still managed to finish Flying Pig marathon 5 minutes under target time (and ran the 5 & 10k’s the day before). Fear not, you may surprise yourself!

  6. Stephen Lalley says:

    I took TKD for 17 years. I never hurt my feet sparring. I did hurt my feet kicking the bag!

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