So, yeah, I’m not running it.
I’ve become an exercise class junkie (can I get some sort of sponsorship to pay for these?) and running long distances has gone on the back burner.
Working 80 hrs a week will do that to do.
At first, I felt guilty about NOT wanting to run a marathon and thought “something must be wrong with me” since I’ve been head over heels in love with long distance running for the past few years.
When I finally “gave it up,” as they say, it was a huge relief. Someone actually congratulated me on NOT doing something (there’s a first for everything I guess). And then I realized that running marathons all the time is not entirely normal. It’s a huge strain on your body and a lot to ask of yourself week after week, long run after long run. I just happen to be socialize in a community where weekend marathons are a normal thing.
And, to be honest, it’s nice to say “no” to something. To realize that saying “no” takes a lot more courage than saying “yes” sometimes.
So, for now, I’m trying to figure out how to print money in the basement I don’t have to fund my quotidian, average daily exercise need – 45 min to 1 hr usually about 5 times a week, 3-4 minimum (sanity minimum that is), and 6 if I’m lucky.
BUT, for those of you who ARE running the NYC Marathon or another marathon in the next few weeks, here are my ever so humble amateur runner tips. These are now tempered by my residency glasses, meaning I don’t get too worked up about too much outside of the hospital (I mean, besides get wait listed at SoulCycle or FlexStudios).
1. STRATEGY: Having a marathon pacing plan is fine. But, here’s the meat and potatoes of it all. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other, speeding up if you feel good, slowing down if you don’t. If you want the simplest race plan, it is as follows:
A. Smile as much as you can the first 10 miles. Don’t be an idiot. Don’t run too fast. Don’t waste emotional energy on anything. Have fun ONLY.
B. Once you get to 13-14, if you feel good, you can run faster.
C. Once you get to 21, it’s going to hurt no matter how well trained you are. At this point, employ the “if you feel good, speed up and, if not, then slow down” plan. And, if you’re in pain, that’s normal.
2. TAPER: Don’t hate it. Use this time to do things you didn’t have time to do while training and running 3 hours each weekend. I highly recommend starting a new TV series. Netflix can be really useful. Or a book.
3. IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH YOUR MENTAL GAME: Purchase “Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect” by Bob Rotella or “Run: The Mind Body Method of Running By Feel” by Matt Fitzgerald. You will not regret it. I’d read these anyway, even if you’re brimming full of confidence.
4. THE MORNING OF: The morning of a marathon, I like to repeat something really cheesy and positive to myself. Something like, “You’re doing something amazing today! You’re going to run 26 miles! That is awesome. Not everyone can do that. You are amazing.” It will help make you excited about the race rather than fearful, dreadful, or thinking about mile 21.
When in doubt, repeat “You’re doing something amazing today!” Cheesy works, guys.
5. YOU BURN 2600 CALORIES NO MATTER WHAT: You can have that DQ Blizzard no matter what. That’s really what we all do marathons for, right?
SOME NYC MARATHON SPECIFIC TIPS:
1. WAITING ON STATEN ISLAND: It can be cold on Staten Island. TAKE LOTS OF EXTRA LAYERS TO WEAR while you wait around for a few hours to start running. I highly recommend going to Kmart and buying extremely large and warm clothing to wear. I have been known to wear a snowsuit (go look in the boy’s section). I did not regret this.
NYRR donates all of then clothing “shed” to charity. Warm win-win.
Also, bring the following: a snack and water, toilet paper, an old heat sheet if you have it.
The latter two you will need when you inevitably pee on the bridge when you wait there for like 30 minutes. Like the good runner you are, you will be trying to stay well hydrated before the start. Don’t hate the bridge pee, embrace it. Everyone does it. Even [professional runner] Lauren Fleshman.
2. THERE ARE MORE HILLS THAN YOU THINK: So just be aware of that. Specifically, there are hills at miles 8-10, mile 13-14 (Pulaski bridge), The Queensboro Bridge, and the uphill grind from apprx 110th street to 89th street….and, of course the finish. :)
3. TAKE IT IN. There’s absolutely nothing like the crowds of the NYC Marathon. It MAKES the marathon. It would’ve been the whole reason I was running it this year (if I did). The crowds will get you through the race. Trust me, from last year’s experience. Even if you’re having a “bad” race, things are going as planned, so on and so forth, please enjoy the crowds and people. It’s really special if you let it be.
In the end, here’s my parting advice on marathons that should be taken with a grain of salt seeing as I’m not a professional runner nor psychologist nor Ghandi.
Of the 6 marathons I’ve run, my best and most enjoyable marathons have come when I was running for a reason bigger than a result.
When I ran the NYC-turned-Richmond marathon, I wanted to (as I wrote at the time) “express my appreciation for my health and ability to run” and to actually enjoy a marathon. And, it was.
When I ran the Eugene Marathon (where I qualified for Boston and probably the fastest marathon I will ever run), I was so in love with running and the training process that I almost thought of my running that marathon as a performance, a ballet of sorts – something so memorable and moving that anyone who saw me run could tell that I loved what I was doing.
And, when I ran the NYC Marathon last year I wanted to prove to myself that as long as you loved what you were doing, you could do anything, no matter how many hours you were working or how many people told you it was a “bad idea.”
So, that’s my biggest tip – figure out WHY you’re running that isn’t a goal time. And, run for that.
Race happy – enjoy!
TELL ME: RACING A MARATHON? YOUR GOAL? LIKE ME AND SKIPPING OUT THIS YEAR?
Until next time…