The marathon has its roots in Greek mythology – an Athenian named Pheidippides was told by an undoubtedly out of shape Greek military officer to run from Marathon to Athens to tell how the outnumbered Greek military Persians. After yelling “Nike! Nike! Nenikekiam” (“Victory! Victory! Rejoice we conquer”) he collapsed and died like a badass.
Marathons are like ghost peppers, Indian food, and well, jogging; they’re not for everyone but those who love them won’t shut up about it. There’s good reason for it. Running a marathon is a total flex. Oh, you went to the park with your kids? Me? I was RUNNING A DAMN MARATHON… No big deal.
This feels like the easy part but it’s not. Signing up makes you face it. You’re committing. Give yourself six months because you’ll need time to get through the five stages of grief. Take the first month to get through stages 1-4. Now get off the couch, wipe the Cheeto’s off your shirt, and get to work. You have five months to make this happen.
Yes. You have train for a marathon. It blows but it beats getting to the end and dying like Pheidippides. Granted, it would be awesome to finish a marathon, walk into work, declare victory, and die – assuming your life insurance pays out.
First, after reading this, ignore every online article about marathon training. They’re trash. Those are meant for stay-at-home moms with ample time to post about their “journey” to the other moms in their social circle. You don’t have time for that. You have 15 pounds to lose and bragging rights at stake.
Second, run five miles. Most marathons have an average cut-off time of 14-minute miles (six hours) which is damn-near a walking pace. If you can’t keep a 12-minute mile pace for five miles, quit and tell everyone you got injured. Or…. take it as a call to action while you train for a marathon. Your goal is to get under a 12-minute mile for 15 miles. If you can do this, you can finish.
Third, run 20 miles prior to your marathon. No reason to be a hero and run multiple marathons before you run your race. Miles 16-20 are the worst. It’s when the body moves from available energy to stored energy. Some call this “the wall”. I call it “super misery time”. Do this once prior to your race and you’ll finish. After 20 miles, it’s a mental game because your body can do it.
Finally, rest for at least two weeks prior to the race. Take the elevator instead of the stairs. Your legs need to recover and nothing is worse than running on tired legs. If you start to feel antsy and grumpy, you’re doing it right.
Side note: One mistake people make is eating one way while training and another before the race. It’s called “carbo-loading” and it’s dumb. The night before a race is no time “switch it up” so don’t sign up for the Nathan’s hotdog eating contest the night before your marathon.
You’re here. You made it. You’ll notice the toilets smell like the breath of Satan. This is because the other runners didn’t read this article. They went out and ate a large pizza the night before and their guts are full of trash food. Pheidippides didn’t eat 23 pounds of spaghetti and crap his pants before he ran so be happy you didn’t either.
First, run your race. If you’ve been training at a 12-minute pace, don’t chase the rabbits running a 6-mile pace when it starts. You may make up time in the front but it’s called a marathon for a reason – it’s a long ass run. Let the rabbits go. You’ll pass them later and when you do, smile like you’re not hurting. You will be but they will be hurting worse.
Second, drink water. Every water station will have Gatorade and water and take a drink at each one. Drinking water early will pay off later because if you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated. If you didn’t train with Gatorade, skip it and drink water. Same for the gel packs they offer. Your body’s not used to them. I’ve lost many socks wiping my ass at mile 18 because I ate four gel packs my body couldn’t process while pumping blood to my extremities.
Finally, miles 20 – 26.2 are a slog. Get over it and feed on the pain. If Brittney Spears made it through 2003, you’ll make it through the last 6 miles.
Less than 1% of the population have run a marathon. This is your chance to look down on the other 99% in sore silence. While they were sleeping in, you were training. You win.
Now you can carbo-load to replenish the calories you burned during those 26.2 miles. You did it and will be reminded every time you walk down stairs for a week. When people ask why you’re walking like you’ve been humped by a horse, boast a little. This isn’t the time to go “vegan” and tell everyone. You ran a marathon but you’re not a marathon runner until you complete two so it’s time to sign up for your next one.
Author Bio: Morgan Lerette is the Author of Welcome to Blackwater: Mercenaries, Money, and Mayhem in Iraq. If you enjoyed this, check it our you filthy animal.