Tag: marathon


Lessons from my first marathon

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.

Lesson 1

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.

Lesson 2

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.

Lesson 3

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.

Lesson 4

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.

Lesson 5

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.

Lesson 6

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”.


My training and progression in running

I just ran my first half marathon, my body and feet are still sore and my stomach now full from my first real meal in 7 hours. I certainly didn’t break any records on this run, but considering in January I was puking from a 10 kilometer run, I would say I feel damn good. I had no real reason to run other than the fact that I felt like it. The weather was nice and I needed to get out and explore. It was an excellent run, and while certainly tough, was a lot of fun.


In January I ran my first 10k ever in my first competition ever called the Stockholm winter run. It sucked. My time was 1hr 7minutes and I thought I was going to die. I never considered myself a runner, but I had always fantasied about it. In the last 5 years I might have run a total of 10 kilometers and on top of that I haven’t done any kind of training in well over a year or so. I was convinced running was for other people, you know, the small, skinny people who couldn’t cut it at any other sport.

My training program

I will be honest with you here.. I am by no means an expert when it comes to training for my runs. As I wrote earlier in this post, I haven’t run much in my life. But I have read a few books, and really tried to get caught up quickly, and so far what I am doing seems to work. My first 10k I ran in January took me 1hr 7 minutes and nearly killed me. My heart rate was firing hard and I had to take a few breaks along the way. My second 10k that I ran two months later I did in 56 minutes and I felt I could have done a lot better, my energy levels and endurance was through the roof. I originally got my idea on training from again the book born to run. Or atleast the idea of how running should be and I kind of took it from there.

In the book born to run the author talks about how his trainer said ”slow down, if it’s not fun your doing it wrong”. Or something like that. So I kept that in mind when I started my training, I would slow down if I was breathing hard or feeling that my run was tough. Why not very specific, it worked in keeping me motived in the beginning. From there I later read a book by Rich Rolls called Finding ultra. Here he gets more specific and talks about heart rate zones. Namely he discusses how he could go hard but would burn out quickly. So his training coach told him to never pass 140 beats per minute and run longer.


After playing around with different training and running apps I eventually landed with iSmoothrun that allows me to pretty much do anything I need from an app and export to any other systems such as strava and so on. I setup my heartrate in 5 zones. 1 is a light walk, 2 is a bit harder walk, 3 is a light jog, 4 is a good race pace and 5 is death. Well not really death, but I can’t run very far in zone 5. Zone three is somewhere between 135-143 Beats per minute (bpm), and this is where I do all of my training in.

I try to do 4-5 10k’s a week (about an hour and five minutes in zone 3) and now I added 1 long run on the weekend which is anywhere between 1 hour – 4 hours. Distance is not as important for me as time running. I find that because I haven’t run a lot in my life that I definitely have to work on my endurance. I already know I can keep a good pace for over 2 hours, now I just have to increase the amount of time running.

Heart rate zones:

1 – light walk

2 – faster walk but not running

3 – Light jog – builds endurance and is fun to run in

4 – tougher, good race pace

5 – max heart rate zone


Always do all my training in zone 3. It’s fun and builds endurance.

Every run is at-least 5k (35 minutes). While most runs now are around 10k (1 hour)

I try to run 4-5 days a week with a long run on the weekend between 2-4 hours long.

Though I am still working on my endurance for the long run – it wasn’t so long ago that I couldn’t run a 10 k (less than 3 months ago), now I am running them several times a week and having a blast.

Perhaps soon I will include 800 meter yasso’s

Yasso: take the time you plan on doing the marathon (your 10k times 4) for me this would be 4hours and 15minutes (I’m not breaking any records here). Anyway you run 800meters in the time in minutes and seconds. So for me this would be 800meters in 4minutes and 15 seconds, then light jog 4minutes and 15seconds and repeat 6-7 times.

I haven’t included yasso’s or any other kind of sprints into my training as I am still just trying to build endurance and not really too concerned with speed yet. Perhaps that will be at a later time. But so far I love my long endurance runs and I don’t really want to burn myself out doing sprints and anything else that could kill my motivation.


I found rather quickly that I simply couldn’t keep my standard paleo diet any longer the more I was training. Besides the fact that I was always getting sick, I realized that I simply didn’t have the needed energy to do my runs as often as I wanted to, as my body simply needed a lot more high quality carbs. So I made a change over to a WFPB (Whole Foods plant based diet) – vegan. And found the results to be amazing so far. I have a lot more energy, I’m not getting sick anymore (from 2-3 times a month for the last couple of years to nothing), and as an added bonus I’m not getting cramps anymore nor am I bed bound after a heavy meal.

My pre-run nutrition on regular 10k run days is just about any vegan meal a few hours before my run and coconut water with me along on the run. This gives me plenty of energy for these runs. I run mid-afternoon usually right after work as it’s a good time for me. It’s easy to get motivated to run after sitting at a desk for a few hours.

Perhaps later on I will try and move this to early mornings as I’m usually awake around 5am anyway, I just haven’t found the motivation to change this part of my routine yet.

I’m still working on my nutrition needs for my long run days, but so far I usually do my long runs on the weekend so I eat my morning bowl of oats laced with Maca powder, spirulina powder, sunflower seeds, pumpkin and chia seeds. I give my stomach a two hours to rest, then a drink a small smoothie consisting of beets, coconut water, bananas, apples, some nuts and seeds as well as Maca powder and spirulina powder and topped off with kale.

On the long runs themselves I bring coconut water and two homemade energy bars consisting of dates and nuts of some kind. (Can be found in backpacking recipes section of this site.)

That’s it. That is my running nutrition at the moment and I feel amazing. I feel like I’m in my teens about energy wise and my recovery time is fantastic.


So now that I am running my ass off what is my motivation? In the beginning I started running because I felt it was something I had always wished I could do. Felt like something that I had to do. My duty as a human I guess. Can’t explain it. My other motivation is that I figured if I could run a marathon than my long hikes should never be a problem again. As I started to run, and now I feel like I am getting pretty good at it, my goals include running ultra marathons, marathons and trail running. No real reason anymore, just a ”why not” kind of thing. Kind of like backpacking, or as Scott Jurek likes to say ”sometimes we just do things”.

It’s fun… it’s as simple as that!