Lessons from 138,336 Feet of Adventure

Good Afternoon from Reno!

Despite some exciting gusts of wind, the weather is amazing here (be jealous all you who live in Vegas!) Hard to believe that campus will be dead after everyone clears out after finals end today, but the break will be a much-needed time of relief and reflection till chaos sets in again in August.

As a newbie marathoner, I certainly had my fair share of lessons learned from my 26 mile adventure. And yes, 138,336 feet is 26.2 miles.

  1. Buy a training book (or several) – despite training for triathlons for 5 years now, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon served as a wonderful resource for me. It covers everything from daily training plans to race morning nutrition. Definitely a must read! Become an expert on the topic of marathoning, and you will read your way to success.
  2. Don’t over train – any book you read will heavily emphasize listening to your body so you don’t overdo your training. If you’re wiped out, getting sick, or struggling in your professional life, take some time off! You only hurt yourself by overtraining. Best tip I got from The Ultimate Training Guide: show up UNDERTRAINED! True, I was doubtful of my ability to finish all 26.2 miles, but in actuality showing up undertrained helped me finish with a fantastic time and enjoyable experience.
  3. Know your gear – use shoes that you’ve used before. Get shoes that fit (I failed on that one and still have the blisters to show for it). Don’t use nutrition that you haven’t trained with (yes, you need to practice calorie and drink intake in your training). Bring your lucky sunglasses! (I’ve done all of my races with the same pair of glasses for the last 5 years). Most important, use a ton of Bodyglide. That stuff will keep you friction free where it counts, and hopefully help some of the pain.
  4. Mind your thoughts – 3.5 hours is a freaking long time, and you can get some quality thinking done in that allocated time. Many books recommend that you focus solely on the race, however, I find it helpful to let my mind wander (a tad) and bring myself back to reality every now and then by checking my pace on my GPS watch.[Note: I’ll be posting the raw GPS data from my race soon] Despite being my first attempt at a marathon, I found it interesting the topics that my subconscious decided to grind on while my legs were pumping. I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about summer travel plans, friends, and how much I enjoy my job and doing a bit of project planning. The power of positive thinking is rather amazing [even over the course of 26 miles] :-)
  5. Watch out for the wall – As a noob, I found this to be the hardest thing to believe. I’ve raced as a triathlete for over 3 hours, there’s no way I’m going to crash at mile 20. Well, surprise surprise, mile 19.6 felt like a bloody dump truck had absolutely flattened me. Be prepared for the hard crash, but be even more prepared to dig deep and suck it up! I wasn’t about to bail on the race with only 7 miles left…
  6. Make a killer playlist – Again, I’m not sure how common it is to allow music on the race course, but I certainly made a killer, hand-crafted playlist with the perfect mix of ACDC hard rock, adrenaline pumping Disturbed, and the ever-badass Mötley Crüe. It was amazing how much motivation and energy you can get from an epic collection of songs. Here’s a link to all the songs I ran to.

Thus ends my advice on marathoning. Get out there and enjoy the run, but make sure to have fun in the process! What tips do you have for racing 26.2?

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