Friday, May 8, 2015

Why I Ran a Marathon and What Running 42.2km Teaches One

This past Sunday, May 3rd, I ran the Vancouver Marathon.
The entire 26 miles or 42.2km of it.
It's hard.
Very hard.
But also amazing.

I didn't necessarily feel relief when I crossed the Finish Line. I felt happiness. I did it. I could do it. It's just another achievement that was only possibly because of careful planning, relentless tracking, and commitment to seeing it through. Just like anything else. And if I can do this, I can do anything else. I can now focus on improving my time and going after the coveted 3 hours and 30 minutes time so that I can qualify for Boston.

The marathon was an eye-opening experience for me. I started prepping for it in January of this year and since deciding to do this, I knew I had to abide by a strict plan. So, I did what I had to do. I consulted with some smart and capable people who'd run it before, heeded their counsel, stuck by a training agenda that was strict and didn't allow anything to get in the way. No matter how long my work days were, who was visiting, what commitments I'd made to people etc., training was never compromised. Staying on-track was non-negotiable.

While I was relatively fit prior to training for the marathon as I was running 5 days a week, albeit only for 5km, I was also doing yoga, paddleboarding throughout the year, and just generally being active.

Applying intention and added focus to my training is what helped keep me on track. And this is how I can sum it up:

1. Tracking: Get an app that works for you and stick with it. I got MapmyRun after my friend turned me on to it. I tracked every work-out carefully and reviewed it after every run. Then I graduated to a system that worked for me which basically consisted of me running 10km a day while I did a long run every Sunday. On the average, I ran 80km every week. That's the main reason why I managed to have the stamina I had on race day even though I started to train relatively late.

I also used MapmyRun to track the 42.2km run on Marathon Day. Click here to view the details.

2. FitBit: Be daily aware of your physical activity. The Fitbit helped with this. Tremendously.
I used Fitbit Charge and made it a point to keep pace with my friends. Ok, I made it a point to always be ahead of my friends. Being competitive by nature helps with a venture of this sort.

3. Accountability: Surround yourself with people of similar mindset who will support you. I made it a point to confer with friends who understood what racing and marathon-training means. They checked in, made sure I was being kept on-track, and consequently I knew I had to produce stats of my training for them every week. Hence, I couldn't not train. My friends and sypport system in a way helped enforce accountability.

And it doesn't matter how much will power we have, everyone needs to be held accountable.

On the day of the race, I divided the 42.2km distance into 5 sections in my mind. 4 sections consisting of 10km and the last stretch consisting of a very hard 2.2km. The very last stretch.  Parsing out the distance this way helped me process the massive amount of work I had to do. It somehow felt chewable, hackable. After all, I'd been running 10km every day for well over 3 months. I knew I had this! And even though the last 8km felt torturous and I didn't think my lungs could get enough air to keep me vertical, I knew I was too close to that Finish Line to not finish the job I'd started. And I did just that. I went. I saw the same route I'd been training on for months, And I finished.

I couldn't recommend this strongly enough. It will do something special to you. It will fuel you with added confidence and faith in yourself. And it doesn't matter how self-confident you already are, everyone can use more confidence.

And below you can see the stats of my race. I'm already training for the next one. I intend to run it in 3 hours and 40 minutes now. I've got a plan. And I have no doubt I will do it.

Have shoes? Will run!

Ready, set, GO!


Anonymous said...

Encouragement comes in many forms. Fitness is one of them. Great job!

Don said...

Nice!! When's the next one?

B.R. said...

I'm training for the triathlon now. Intend to cut the running time in half this year!! :)
Next marathon is in a few weeks too. After the triathlon.