I wasn’t a runner. In fact, I had only started my fitness routine about three months prior, thanks to an incentive program at work.
It was June of 2011 and I was sitting at a New York Yankees baseball game with my friend Larry. While taking in the sights and sounds of Yankee stadium, the topic turned towards running; something Larry was passionate about. We talked enthusiastically about pace, cadence, distance and other running aspects. Then, he turns to me and says,
“Why don’t you run a marathon?”
I immediately laughed.
Right. I hardly run three miles and by October you think I could be ready to run a marathon?!? Crazy talk.
I began to think of every reason why this wasn’t a good idea. I even committed to running a half-marathon in compromise to his challenge. His push was relentless. Tired of my excuses, it was what he said next that changed everything…
“Why not? You wouldn’t know the difference between training for a half or a full marathon.”
In that moment, I knew he was right. I had ran out of excuses. Truthfully, I kind of got excited about the idea, after all, I was beginning to love running.
I took the bait and committed.
The next day, I combed through running plans to find the right training plan to get me through a 26.2 mile race. Training started the following weekend and consisted of running five times a week, with an weekly average of 35 miles.
Over the course of the next few months, I found myself doing something that I would have never dreamed possible: running—a lot!
During my training, I discovered a few things about preparation and commitment that I found to be helpful:
- The resistance was in my head, not in my ability. — The difference between a marathon and a half-marathon is all in your head. With the right plan and the proper amount of time, you can accomplish whatever you set out to do. Larry was right, because I had not trained before, there wasn’t a difference between preparing for a marathon or half-marathon.
- The key to success is unwavering commitment — Training at this level is a mind-over-matter issue. On days that fatigue wanted to keep me in bed, I got up and hit the pavement anyway. I knew that after a 1/2 mile, the sleepiness would be gone and I would be energized. On sick days, I Googled “running while sick” to make sure that I could keep training and not worsen my condition. I was relentless in my training and I did everything I could to keep up with my plan.
- Think long-term. My biggest takeaway from my training was simple: the more miles you log, the better your pace and time will be. Put another way, the more experience you have, the better you’ll be at running the race.
Four days ago I committed to writing in this blog everyday for 31 days. Tonight, I wished I hadn’t made that commitment. Sure, I could go to bed, skip a day and nobody would care, but that’s not the point. Part of the process of discovering what you’re capable of doing is by doing things you’re not sure you are capable of doing.
If you had told me that I was going to run a 20 mile long run only 7 weeks after I had started my marathon training, I would have told you that you were crazy. But I did!
While I don’t know what will come of my commitment to writing in this space every single day, I know that the training will pay off in ways that I can’t even imagine today.
On November 12, 2011, I ran 26.2 miles in 4 hours, 16 minutes and 32 seconds. I was able to finish only because I kept doing even when I didn’t want to.
Here’s to 26 more days of training.