I did it, it hurt, at times it sucked, and times it was glorious. It was a hell of a lot harder than I expected, and definitely more emotional than I thought possible. I ran and finished my first marathon on Saturday. I set a goal in early February that I wanted to run and complete the Stockholm marathon in June. This with no previous running training, or any training for that matter, certainly not cardio in at-least 15 years. I felt it was ambitious, but at the same time a challenge I needed to keep myself motivated.
I could write for days with regards to how the race went, and mental process needed to complete, how my body felt, or how about an old man getting a heart attack next to me while running. I could explain all of this but I won’t, I will let this experience be mine and mine alone. It was something deep and profound and something I need to hold on to a while longer. With that said, I will write about the lessons I learned and will bring with me on future runs and I hope will even help you on yours.
Everyone has to take a shit at the same time on race day. Standing in line to the toilet will take a minimum of 45 minutes of standing and waiting patiently. A good choice is to just hold it at and lay down and relax, take a shit somewhere along the run where the toilets are always empty instead.
Don’t shave. While waiting and eating some pre-run food, I noticed rows and rows of beautifully shaven men and women, glistening in the sunlight the baldness of their bodies. I also noticed how every single one of them spent an amazing amount of time greasing themselves up and down with vasoline in places I didn’t know could get chapped. My tactic was to do as usual and not shave my ass crack, chest or underarms and allow my hair to protect my body. Worked perfectly. No chaffing anywhere.
As a precaution for chapping between my thighs (no thigh gap here) I bought shorts with built in tights.
Run more on roads if training for a marathon. I ran a lot leading up to my first marathon. But the trails had been mixed between street and dirt paths. The difference in pressure on feet and knees is astounding when tacking on heavy kilometers. While the first 25 kilometers my body held up well, the last 10 hurt really bad as my left foot had given out completely.
What is the difference between the marathon racer that runs in 3 hours and the one that runs in 5 hours? The runner running in 5 hours probably had a hell of a lot tougher time as she was standing and pounding her knees, feet and body for two hours longer – not including the aforementioned 45 minute wait before the race to take a shit.
So the lesson here – train speed, get the marathon done as quickly as possible, it only gets worse as the hours pile on.
Energy gels mixed with Coca Cola, bananas, pickles, clif bars and energy drinks is an absolutely revolting mixture of puke inducing running fuel. I was told to eat everything I could along the run, and from my experience of running longer runs my bodies energy usually crashed at around 20k if I didn’t eat. So I took this advice to heart and ate everything I could. Energy gels must be the single most disgusting edible product on earth, it doesn’t get better with pickles.
Find your reason why. If you don’t have a strong enough reason to complete the race, your not going to, it’s as simple as that. My reason started with Scott Jureks saying ”sometimes we just do things”, but I found that wasn’t strong enough, it wasn’t strong enough because it wasn’t my reason. It is Scotts. I found after 30kilometers I had to find my why, my reason behind it all and I did.
I started my running and vegan lifestyle after a visit to the doctors office pretty much ended with the doctor saying take pills or die young. I believe firmly in the ability for the body to heal itself, especially if given the proper nutrition. So I changed to a plant based whole food diet and the results so far have been astounding. My energy levels have increased majorly, I don’t get sick anymore, I’ve lost a lot of weight and all in all I just feel amazing.
However my reason for doing all of this, the running, eating and for the purpose of this article, running the marathon was one thing. To live to be an old man for my young boy. I didn’t want to be couch ridden, or bad heart and can’t play with him. So my mantra for completing the race fitted me perfectly and gave me the boost I needed to complete ”Old man for you”.