My advice to a pre-marathoner
What’s a pre-marathoner? Clearly, it’s someone who is thinking about running a marathon. If I could go back in time and run my first marathon again, here are the things I wish someone would have told me before I started:
Number 1: If you find a marathon training plan that just has you running to 20 miles before your race, throw that away. Well, okay, don’t throw it away. But, realize those last 6.2 miles, after the first 20 miles, will be the hardest 10k you have ever run. Ever. Don’t be thinking you’ll run that 10k like it’s just some normal 10k. It ain’t happening.
Number 2: Don’t eat a bunch of crap food the week before your race, simply because you are “carb-loading.” You’re asking for trouble at mile 16, that’s what you’re doing.
Number 3: During training, don’t use your car as a place to store things, like extra energy chews and gels. When race time comes you will have no place to put these. And the extra phone case you have never used during training will slide up and down on your arm, rubbing the skin raw for 26.2 miles. This will give you more pain over the next couple days after your race, than your legs ever will. Trust me. Don’t think you wanna trust me? Read my post here.
Number 4: Believe you can do anything you set your mind to. I mean it. Believe it. Your body is going to want you to quit.
Number 5: Give it your all. You won’t want to do another one of these next week. Hell, you may never want to do another one.
Number 6: Never listen to anyone who says you can’t do it. Even if they follow up with, “I’m just trying to motivate you.” You’ll already have those doubts in your head, you don’t need anyone else throwing doubts in there.
Number 7: Ninty-five percent of your drive to finish should come from you. That last five percent can come from the naysayers. There’s no point in running a marathon for the people who told you “you can’t do this.”
Number 8: Tell yourself, often, “I can do this. I will do this.” And when you do it, promptly donkey kick the people who told you you couldn’t do it in the throat. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to do that, too, because you’re awesome.
Number 9: Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t meet the time you wanted. Just by finishing a marathon makes you part of that elite one percent to ever finish. Most people who ask you what time you got, haven’t actually ever run a marathon. Time means nothing when you’ve just finished a marathon. Trust me.
Number 9.5: Also, don’t take your first half marathon time and just double that for your anticipated full marathon time. Hell, don’t even your 20 mile training time and add an hour to that. I had finished my first half in 2 hours and 14 minutes. Great. Then I ran 20 miles in 3 hours 30 minutes, in training. Sure thing. I can totally finish my first full marathon in 4 hours and 30 minutes. Um, go ahead and add 45 more minutes. So, I’ll tell you again: Time. Means. Nothing. You have finished.
Number 9.75: Don’t forget to figure in path variance. Even if you try to hug the curves, there’s still a big chance you’ll be running 0.25 to 0.50 miles over. My half was 0.25 miles over, while my full was a good half mile over. It’s definitely discouraging. Just be aware. (;
Number 10: Congratulate yourself. Realize how strong your body and mind are. You are a freaking rockstar. A marathon-finishing rockstar!
Number 11 (bonus): Always remember to smile when you see a camera during the race. You will thank me for this.