In order to run a marathon you must be crazy. You must be crazy, dedicated and passionate about running. You must also have a good pair of running shoes. It’s possible to run a marathon without shoes but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s much easier to smile through the pain at the finish line if your feet have been cushioned for the last 26.2 miles.
When friends, family and coworkers find out that you are training for a marathon, there will come the inevitable shock “Wow!” They will look at you with a smidge of admiration but mostly disbelief. Then after the shock sinks in, “why?” or “are you crazy or something?” To that you can say “yes”, for it takes a certain degree of insanity to want to run 26.2 miles. You must be a little bit nuts to get up at the hour you do in order to get the miles in before work. You have to be off your rocker to sit in a bathtub full of ice water to soothe your aching muscles after a really hard day on the track. You have to be a bit mad to put Vaseline on your eyebrows, band-aids on your nipples and slather yourself with a product called Body Glide. Yes, you must be a little bit crazy to run a marathon.
However, along with the insanity, you must be dedicated to the training. You must be willing to run all the miles on your training schedule even on the days you’d rather sleep in or grab a drink with friends. You must run even when you can think of anything else on the planet you’d rather be doing instead. You must run even if you have a head cold, even if you have a blister the size of Texas on your pinkie toe, even if it’s 92 degrees outside. You run.
You run in shoes picked out with the help of a professional. Don’t go to Dick’s or Footlocker; go to a specialty running store and have a professional watch your feet while you run. They will bring you shoes that are appropriate for your needs. Try all of them on until you have found the perfect fit. You will know you have found the perfect shoe because it won’t feel like a shoe at all, but rather an extension of your own foot. Splurge a little and get the best shoes for your feet, after all, you will be spending a lot of time with them. Become friends with the sales people. They know their stuff and can recommend other gear you might be interested in, but at its core, shoes are the only essential accessory you need in order to run.
You’ll skip the happy hours with friends. You will eat spaghetti by the ton and drink so much water that your boss will think you have a UTI. You will happily put on your running shoes when everyone else is in bed because you are passionate. You know that running a marathon is so much more than the medal they will drape around your neck as you drag your weary body across the finish line. During training you’ll realize how strong you really are, not only physically, but also mentally. You will learn how to press through the moments when the word “quit” screams through your brain. You will learn when to push yourself to the limit and when to give yourself a break. You will learn something everyday about who you are.
And when Marathon Day finally arrives you celebrate. The fact that you made it to the starting line healthy and prepared gives you confidence for what lay ahead on the road in front of you. Each mile you run that day is a celebration of every mile you put in during training. Write your name on your shirt and thank the volunteers and spectators cheering for you. Talk to other runners around you. Encourage each other when the going gets tough. Cry if you need to. Those last 6.2 miles will be the toughest 6.2 miles you have ever run in your life. You will wish you were dead; you will know you are dead. But most importantly, no matter what your time or how horrible you feel, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Lift your hands and smile when you cross the finish line. This is your moment. You have won the race. You realize you are too tough to kill.
Kate’s “How to run a marathon”