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.
“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.”
“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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Happy, Injury-Free Running!
How do you feel about giving advice?