I was talking with a friend of mine recently and he asked, “What does it take to run a [half] marathon? This is what I told him.
1. It takes the vision to see yourself doing it and the courage to to follow through. You have to believe you can do it. Get a mental image of what that would look like and hold on tight to that picture in your mind. More than 90% of the battle is mental. A constant struggle begins to fend off negative thoughts reinforcing that you can not do this. Then there are all the excuses you can handily use to not get out the door for that training run.
2. It takes great discipline and focus – getting up and out the door at-least 5 mornings a week even if you don’t feel like it or have other pressing needs. I ran some of those training runs while nursing a migraine. Mostly because I knew I had to get it in. Running even when traveling whether it’s raining, snowing or even a heat wave. Last summer, our area had a torturous heat wave for a record number of days – 27 consecutive days over 90 degrees and 10 consecutive days over 100 degrees. I didn’t skip any of those runs. I just ran them at the crack of dawn (5:30 and 6:00 am). Even still the temp was usually already in the 80’s and the humidity was so thick you could slice it with a knife.
Then even after shower, not being able to cool off before blow drying my hair (which actually makes me warmer) creating frizz that no curling iron can fix and usually sets me up for a bad hair day.
3. It means giving up the perfect looking feet/toes. Many long-distance runners talk about losing toe nails. Ever since my first half marathon in 2010 I have had at least 2 or more toe nails bruised from the constant banging in the shoe. I have had so many brands of shoes, sizes, etc., and nothing changes this outcome for me. Black polish is the only thing that covers the bruises. For men it’s a minor inconvenience for women it’s major.
It also means that when evening comes, falling asleep usually before 9 from exhaustion.
4. It means learning to push through pain. There are so many aches and pains along the way. You begin recognizing them as typical for that point in the run. Also, in all my training and races (1,800+ miles since 2010), I have yet to be side-lined by any running related ache/pain for more than one week.
At least 12 weeks of training is needed. There’s no shortcuts.
5. It means ending each week with a long-run that builds each time to (a half marathon) 11 mile run or (full marathon) 20 mile run, 2 weeks before the event.
6. It means running miles you never thought you could with an oxygen deprived brain that causes for slower responses. I once almost stepped on a (half dead) poisonous snake because of such.
When I trained for the St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon last year, by the time I finished the race, I had put in over 500 miles in training and gone through 2 pairs of tennis shoes. I was not the same person when I crossed the finish line as I was when I started my training 6 months earlier. That training caused me to push limits that I once thought were not possible.
It takes support from family and friends because of the time commitment especially when you get into the high mileage long runs. I have had awesome support from all my family. Jim especially has always supported me in everything I’ve done.
It takes good Research. Yes, you need to research a plan and all that is needed to insure adequate nutrition, hydration, training and gear. The right shoes, clothes, etc.
The bottom line though…it takes the will to cross the finish line and make it count for a higher purpose.
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