Not Your Momma’s Marathon Advice

Last year, I got some really good phenomenal advice – which is generally how I like the transaction to occur. You, Oh Wise One, give advice, and I, inferior and questioning little human, smile and nod.

Jules Valentines Day Feb 2020
Whatever you say, boss. I’m already drunk.

“You have to remember that where you are right now is exactly the right place from which to teach,” this Sage Advice Giver said. “There is someone out there at this very moment, experiencing what you did a few months or years ago, and they need to hear from you, just a step or two ahead.”

“Huh,” I replied, nodding, still not completely convinced.

“Think about it,” Ms. Guru continued. “If you had just held your first basketball and Michael Jordan announced he was your new coach, what would happen? Everything would sail over your head because he’s like 14 feet tall you’d have no idea what he was talking about, you’d be intimidated, and you’d probably throw in the towel thinking how you’d never get to his level.”

Michael Jordan
Jeez Michael, you don’t have to rub it in. Photo credit

“Mmm,” I said, starting to catch on.

“We need coaches and mentors who are still on the same playing field. There are people who need and want to learn from you, right where you are, just as you are, today.”

And there it was.

In that instant, everything changed.

I, Go Jules Go, lover of chipmunks and pouring the last, saltiest, kettle cooked BBQ potato chip crumbs down her pie hole whilst googling Stephen Colbert’s astrological sign, was reborn.

O Magazine Oprah advice
I felt like Oprah.

Fast-forward to present day, when one of my good friends mentioned that she’s toying with the idea of running a marathon in 2021.

“I have no doubt in my mind that you could do it with far more ease than you think,” I texted.

“Well that’s good to hear! My only goals would be to finish and not die,” she replied.

“You have the best attitude and strength, physically and mentally [of anyone I know]. It’d be a done deal,” I went on, feeling only slightly guilty about the blatant peer pressure.

Erin Jules marathon hats FootZone Oct 2019
AND you have the look, EK.

As we went back and forth, I began to think of all of the things I wished I had known about marathon running several years ago, and how great it would have been to have received that advice from, well, someone like me. Someone whose goal was also to “finish and not die.” Someone who didn’t run track growing up, who didn’t (and still doesn’t) understand the phrase “zero drop sneakers,” and whose childhood influences were more, “Let’s watch TGI Friday and order more cheesy breadsticks” than, “What do you want in your green smoothie?”

This wouldn’t be half bad with vodka.

When I ran my first two marathons in 2014, my life was a Made for TV Special: divorce, job lay-off, new romance, new failed romance, moving back in with my parents (…at age 32…). I’d never run before and, fueled by chaos and cute men, I went too far, too fast, quickly paying the price with an I.T. band injury.

IT band injury
I.T. Band. The lamest band in the history of time. Photo credit 

While I completed two marathons, it was ultimately painful and punishing.

When I decided to pack up and move across the country in 2019, I knew everything would be different. I would run again, taking advantage of central Oregon’s outdoor splendor, and it would be good.

Jules Crater Lake Aug 2019
So good. Oh crap, is it time to start running?

Last fall, settled in my beautiful new home, I began training in earnest with one simple goal: to make this the most painless experience possible.

Jules half marathon training Sep 2019
Annnnd I definitely didn’t fall twice on this training run. Nope. Not me.

Now, after having just run three marathons in nine days sans injury (chyeah I did just say that), I’m happy to report: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. So let’s do this.

Not Your Mommas Marathon Advice Go Jules Go title graphic 6MAY2020

Expect to have 14 different races in one marathon.

Running 26.2 miles is kind of like watching Tiger King. You are now on an emotional rollercoaster full of ups and downs you simply could never have prepared for.

Tiger King
Would you rather: Bottle feed a full-grown tiger or run a marathon?

SLOW DOWN, Buck-o.

On race day, you’ll be raring to go. Go slower than you can even stand to (and then silently judge all of the jackals who take off like their race bibs are on fire). Your body will thank you later. Like on mile 23 when all you want to do is find a bean bag chair and a box of wine.

bean bag wine chair
Or better yet…


I’ve been known to eat Nutter Butters and falafel wraps before and during long runs. But please don’t do anything weird on race day. Don’t try new food or compression socks or chaffing sticks or, god forbid, shoes.

And please please pretty please don’t wear the unwashed, chemical-laden, ugly-ass race shirt you just received for THE RACE YOU’RE CURRENTLY RUNNING. Sweet baby Jesus, does no one believe in jinxing anymore?! How about rashes? Do we believe in those?

Incorporate as many plant-based meals into your diet as possible.

This will reduce inflammation and help your body recover in ways you can’t begin to imagine. (Don’t believe me? Check out The Game Changers.) I was vegan for almost four years before running three marathons in nine days last month, and that never would have happened without a plant-i-ful diet.

Oh, what’s that? You’re looking for someone who can help you with this? Hmm…

Miles 20 to 26.2 won’t kill you, but you might want them to.

You’ll never hate the fraction 2/10 more in your life. No amount of physical training can prepare you for those final miles. You have to want it, mentally. Unlike U.S. banks, you have to think, “THERE IS NO BAIL OUT PLAN.”

Lori Philly half marathon high five Nov 2014
Also, it is 100% okay to throat punch any person who says, “Almost there!” when you’re anywhere within this mile range. (Photo: My sister gettin’ ‘er done during the 2014 Philly half marathon.)

And most importantly, know…

You don’t have to ‘look’ or ‘feel’ like a runner (whatever the hell that means) to crush a marathon.

Just. Start. Running. You WILL have shitty training runs. You won’t want to leave the house. Do it anyway. Because, often when you least expect it, you will also have AMAZING runs. You will feel highs you didn’t know you could feel without potential jail time.

Did someone say jail time?

Happy, Injury-Free Running!


How do you feel about giving advice? 



31 thoughts on “Not Your Momma’s Marathon Advice”

  1. Despite your insightful, fantastic advice, at 69 I’m not going to be running anywhere. However, that chair. Mother’s Day is Sunday. Just sayin’…

    1. I’m surprised Bend hasn’t started a “Bend Bean Bag Beer” run yet… (That ‘cover’ photo of me pretending to puke was taken during my first official Bend race, after which I drank a free hard cider and ACTUALLY puked. These people don’t play. My only goal for the next race was to finish a beer after – and keep it down.)

  2. Ahhhh!!! You’ve inspired me- I’m going to beat my longest run ever this week or weekend which will be anything longer than 8 miles! Maybe I’ll shoot for 9?

    1. I was like, I *must* know who this is… HI! I am cheering you on for this weekend – it’ll be nice and hot just how you like it! LOL (I will be inside, with my head in the freezer.)

  3. I love that sage advice! And I’ll never understand the allure of running. Maybe it’s because I’ve never felt a runners high, even when I ran track in high school. Nevertheless I’m very happy to cheer you on from the sidelines. Bravo for figuring out how to accomplish such a feat!

    1. Ms. Guru could not have come into my life at a better time! In Jan-Feb 2019, I had all of these spectacularly fortuitous encounters just as I was struggling with the decision to resign from my job (and ultimately leave NJ), including that one! They all not just said, but screamed, “DO IT! LIVE *YOUR* LIFE.” (Thought you’d appreciate that little backstory!)

  4. Good for you for helping others! I can’t even comprehend the impetus for this (running, I mean) but I think you’re right – the advice of someone newly familiar would be so much more welcome than someone who already sits atop Mt. Olympus. Which is where you will soon sit.

  5. Amazing advice thank you! I’m running my first half marathon in two weeks and am so nervous!

    1. Oh my gosh, that’s so exciting! And, those nerves will actually come in handy and fuel you on race day – as long as you don’t start out too fast (I cannot stress this enough), you’ll feel like you’re floating through the first 5-10 miles! If your legs feel like tree trunks and every second eternal by mile 22, just remember: MIND OVER MATTER! I know you’ll crush it and hope you’ll report back with how it went, your shiny new medal dangling from your neck!

  6. Wow, three marathons in nine days? Inspirational stuff and great advice. I have just started going on short runs myself recently, although at the moment the only marathon I am considering involves watching twenty episodes of Rick and Morty in a row.

  7. I can’t believe you ran 3 marathons in 9 days without injury. That’s amazing! I trained for a half-marathon last year, and have since had some knee issues. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to do a marathon, but your story inspires me to try. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Congrats on your half marathon!! I would definitely give your knee the TLC it needs and build back up slowly. I wish, when I first started running back in 2014, that I’d taken at LEAST a year to work up to my first marathon!

      1. Thanks! That’s good advice. I’ve taken a break for about six months, and my knee is slowly getting better. I planned on taking at least a year to train for a full marathon.

  8. All great advice! Which ones did you run??? I used to run them all the time – living in the horrendous heat of Texas we’d get up at 3:00 am for our 18 mile training run to avoid dying… that I’m older, they just don’t seem as fun. BUT, I do still run a half or 2 a year :-).

    1. They were all on my own on local trails during the quarantine! You will be in your GLORY with the number of half marathons in this area to choose from!

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