Everything I Learned While Training For My First Marathon, By A Novice Runner

Brace yourselves, this may be a long one.. (like long run, get it? Runner humor).

“If at first an idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”
-Albert Einstein

“It’s cold!  I hope you’re running inside today.”  “It’s icy, I hope you’re not running today.”  “What do you mean you’re getting up at 6am on Sunday?  Sleep in a little!”  “You’re on vacation, turn your savage mode off.”

These are all very common texts that I religiously receive.  My three basic life emotions are that I am cold, tired and hungry.  So yes, friends, I am cold and tired.  Hungry comes later.  I sound like a real delight, huh?!  I usually smile at the texts and reply when I am done with my scheduled run/workout.

When I started running a few years ago, I never imagined, in my wildest dreams (Cue Taylor Swift) that I would ever be training for a marathon.  I started running as an outlet and part of my training regimen, which quickly turned into a passion.  Who knew, a few years later, I would learn so much, about life, from a single physical activity, which all started, with my very first mile, that changed my life.  Now here I am, training for one of the biggest goals I’ve ever set for myself, which is three short weeks away.  (I think I just shit my pants.)

There have been many miles upon miles that I’ve run and each mile has held a story for me.  With every mile, no matter how hard or how easy it was, it taught me something that can easily translate into life.

Here it goes…

Don’t think, just do.  In a book I’m reading, it teaches The Law of Diminishing Intent which translates to “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds are that you will never actually do it.”  So, when the alarm goes off, there’s usually no procrastinating.  I get dressed and I am out the door before my brain realizes what I am doing.

Speaking of the brain, while it may be the most complex organ that we have, it can also be thought of as a muscle.  We need to work it, stretch it and strengthen it to respond the way we need it to.  When you’re out there for miles upon miles and you think you’re going to die, you’re not.  It hurts, but you won’t die.  Control your mind, control your life.  It’s a daily practice.

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Never forget your tissues.  When you gotta go, you gotta go, if you know what I mean.

It never gets easier, you just get better.  I know the importance of a single head nod to another runner, or the infamous runner’s wave.  Whether it’s someone who is running their first mile ever, or out there for twenty, like myself, we all need the encouragement.  We’re all runners.  We’re all in this together.

There’s usually a breakdown before the breakthrough.  When you get to the point that you think you can’t do something or get through a situation, don’t you dare give up.  This is most important step and the next step is usually the step that gets you to your breakthrough and my God it’s beautiful.  (Hello, from the other side…)

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Always be inspired.  Everything inspires me.  Everything.  From famous runners like Shalane Flanagan, to Dorothy Beal of Mile Posts, to runners I’ve found on The Gram (as the kids call it) who have 200 followers, who are running their first 5k, to the man who was on blade runners this morning who ran just as many miles as I did, to the woman who thinks she is going super slow but she’s doing the best she can.

Nature inspires me:  the sky, the smell, the animals along the way (squirrels are ninja rats who come out of nowhere), the trees that are forcing themselves to bloom and the grass that’s making it’s way up through the frozen ground.  Be inspired.  It all shows us a deep lesson.  Except for the squirrels, they’re trying to kill us.

You’re better than you f*cking think.  Period, end of story.

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.  Every run sure as hell won’t be easy.  You won’t be satisfied every time.  This isn’t to discourage you, it’s to challenge you.  Your 5k pace won’t be your 10k pace.  Those paces won’t be your half marathon or marathon pace…yet.  

Breathe and relax into it.  Ever notice how when you breathe and relax into something it gets easier.  Yeah, that’s NOT a coincidence.

Stretch.  If you don’t, you’ll regret it.  (Thanks for this, Tara!)

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The W’s aren’t W’s without the L’s.  Celebrating the wins are that much more glorious after (Cue Big Sean) bouncing back from an L.  Celebrate the losses, too, they’re just as important; they’re lessons, they teach us, they mold us, we can find new methods in them and they sure as hell humble us.  They remind us that we can be experienced and still a novice at some point.  (Tied back to the title of this blog post.)

Learn to clap for yourself.  Some days the accomplishment is running 26.2 miles.  Others, you simply get out of bed.  Either way, give yourself a round of applause because some days are harder than others and there’s not going to be race-day spectators clapping for you every single day.

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Mantras are miracles.  I don’t care if you love them or think they’re a pile of shit.  Whatever works to get you through those nasty moments of “okay, this is how I die.”  Ever hear of “Live Strong?”  Yeah, I thought so.  That was Lance’s personal mantra before it was the Live Strong that you know.

People won’t understand your journey and that’s okay.  It’s not anyone’s responsibility to understand why you do what you do, day in and day out, your passions, your goals, your vision or the choices you make.  Others may simply be projecting from their fear based or fixed mindset.  My only advice, you do you.  Do you, with good intention, confidence and grace.

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See you at the finish line.






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