I have trained for nine marathons and run seven (one injury, once I didn’t feel like going to Philly after training for nine months) in the past ten years. I like to run, but I never considered myself a long distance runner, and never really dreamed of running a marathon…
Until I did.
If I can do it anybody can, and I say that with all due respect. Of course some people experience injuries (I know I have), but notwithstanding any serious health issues this is something that you can do if you really want to.
I had shin splints, so I changed sneakers. Nikes were horrible for me and Asics Gel Kayano work. I buy them frequently, never running more than 300 miles in a pair. You want them fresh and bouncy.
Here’s how to run a marathon:
1. Sign up. Once you have committed and paid the money you will feel like you are obligated to run.
2. Tell everybody you know (and even strangers) that you are running a marathon. The more times you say it the more you will believe it.
3. Talk about running the marathon incessantly. Nobody is interested other than you (unless it is a fellow trainer/runner), but who cares? The more you talk about it the more people will ask you how your training is going and you will feel that you can’t back out.
4. Follow a training schedule. You can find one on www.nyrrc.org or basically on any running site. It is very important to run the miles that are required. I print the schedule out and write in my actual mileage on top of the printed schedule to keep myself honest.
5. Run a lot of races. Short ones, medium ones, long ones. People talk and will ask you if you’re running the marathon. There is a runner’s energy that is contagious. Also, if you see how bad some of the other runners look it will definitely give you courage, especially when they are running past you again and again. You will think,
“If he/she can do it I certainly can too.”
6. Listen to music. There are scientific studies that prove that music helps us to run faster and farther. You don’t have to be alone with your thoughts. Tune out. Sing out loud. Dance if you want to. I have created specific training and running playlists which really keep me going under duress.
7. Hydrate. This is essential. If you are dehydrated you will feel weak and depleted. Bring water with you or run along paths that have water fountains or beverages for sale.
8. Eat right. Before, and during runs, you should be sure to have enough fuel in your body to reach your goals.
9. Compete with yourself, not anyone else. This is about you. You are not trying to win the race, are you? Worry about yourself and your own time. Try to finish with your head up. Don’t worry about your placement right now. Just worry about crossing the finish line.
10. Bore people some more. The more you discuss you, the more likely you are to do it.
11. Don’t overtrain. I have done this, and my performance after overtraining is worse than when I have trained just enough. Your body needs to be able to rest sometimes, and if you don’t allow it to you may be fatigued during the race and disappoint yourself.
12. Celebrate afterwards. I always go for Mexican food and frozen margaritas. Invite your friends to watch you along the way and at the finish. You deserve a treat after all of this running, so make a big deal out of it.
I am going for Las Vegas this December. This will be my last marathon (I think). I’m fifty now. My first was at forty. Las Vegas is a good marathon (I have run it three times). It’s flat and the weather is cool. It starts at 6:15 a.m., with fireworks and the sunrise. You finish before lunch, so you will have the whole day ahead of you. There is no waiting to start for four hours like you do in Staten Island (regular runners like me don’t start in NY until after 11 a.m. which is a killer). I have run NYC four times and never enjoyed it as much as Vegas, despite the huge cheering crowds (I can’t hear them anyway because I’m tuned into my ipod).
See you in the park or along the Hudson! I’ll be the brunette with the ipod, singing out loud. Wave hello.