My First Marathon   1 comment

Some thought I was crazy.  Why would anyone want to run a marathon?  After all, it didn’t work out so well for Pheidippides.  But I was committed; I talked about that decision in I Could Not Run.

Two things were key to my making it through my first marathon, and I believe they will be important for you, as well:

  • You must put in the miles.
  • You must prepare yourself mentally.

Consistency is very important.  Get to where you are running 4 or 5 days each week.  You’re going to need to build your miles up, and the only way to do that is over time.

To avoid injury, avoid increasing any individual run distance, or your weekly distance total, by more than about 10%.  So, if you’re doing 5 mile training runs, don’t jump to 10.  If you ran 20 miles last week, don’t go to 30 in the next week.  Once you begin to feel yourself getting in shape, it is tempting to push yourself into to doing something you’ve not done before … and you might well be able to do it successfully.  But you might not.

It’s also good to stair-step your weekly distance … 20 miles one week, 15 the next, then up to 22, then 24, then back to 18, etc.  That way, you give yourself lighter weeks to help recovery from any little stresses and strains that develop.

While I was doing the miles, I was logging every segment of every run on a spreadsheet.  I monitored the mileage on my shoes (shoes should be replaced at 6 months or 500 miles) my weight, daily distance and times.  I could actually see my daily progress.  I played games with myself.  Could I run the first segment of this 7 mile run faster than ever?  The first two segments?  Understand, this was simply me playing games with myself.  No one ever saw that spreadsheet … but it did help provide me inspiration to get up at 4am every morning to go attack that day’s run.

And that was how I began to develop my mental approach to running.  Understand, running is a mental achievement.  You need to convince yourself to go sweat and make your body do things it has never done before.  I remember “dead legs” at mile 14, knowing I was still two miles from home.  I remember turning my ankle a mile from home.  To push through, you have to really want it.

I started running to lose weight so I could go backpacking at Philmont (see Get Big Ones), so I was actually in training to lose weight for more than a year.  After I conquered Philmont, I decided to extend my distances and get ready to do a 26.2 mile marathon.  I was working towards running my home town race, the Santa Clarita Marathon.  I got there … and then LA began to burn.  Flames were all around our valley as undeveloped hillsides went up in flames the week of the event.  The Santa Clarita race was canceled due to the resulting poor air quality.  Luckily, southern California has a lot of races, so I signed up for the San Diego Marathon, now called the Carlsbad Marathon, that was scheduled 3 months later.  3 more months of training.  Remember, running is ultimately a mental exercise.  Motivation had to stay up for another 3 months.

And then I got to the starting line.  I had intense emotions:  I was finally at the beginning of something I had worked for 8 months to achieve.  I was in the best shape of my life.  I could not WAIT to run the marathon.  It was truly an overwhelming experience.

Running the race was really never in doubt for me.  After all, I knew I could run 40+ miles in a week.  I knew I could run 22+ mile training runs.  I had done both several times.  So I knew I could complete the marathon.  I knew it.  That’s the mental preparedness, which resulted from physical preparedness.

I’m proud that I ran the first 6 miles in exactly 60 minutes.  At that point, again, I knew I would have no problems completing the race.  I am also proud that I ran 20 miles without stopping to walk.  I haven’t been able to duplicate that feat again, unfortunately.

Crossing the finish line was pure joy.  It was completion.  It was accomplishment.  It was fantastic.

I finished the race in 4 hours 38 minutes, which is still my personal best.

Could you run a marathon?  Absolutely.  When I started, I was obese and could not run.  It took me over a year, but I got there.  Taking this journey was one of the best decisions I have made.

It’s about the bling. It’s always about the bling.

Posted October 7, 2012 by henrymowry in Running

Tagged with , , , , ,

One response to “My First Marathon

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pingback: The Big 26.2 |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.