11 things I learned running my 1st marathon
- Anyone can do it
Many people tell me "I can run only 5 km/ 10 min etc." Well if you can run that much, in all probability, with some practice you can run a marathon.
- Run it only if you really want to.
Running a full marathon requires serious commitment. There are many sacrifices you'll need to make. If you are into fitness running, you can stretch a bit and run a half marathon. A full marathon is a painfully different ball game altogether. Be sure you really want to do it.
- Follow the pre-documented plans but customize.
The web is full of free resources and training plans. Jeff Galloway and Hal Higgdon are two popular online experts. Follow their plans but make your sure you make adequate changes to suit your routine. For instance, my travel and work schedule never allowed me more than 3 weekly runs though the plan I followed prescribed four.
- Paperwork helps.
Maintain a schedule and measure your performance weekly against the schedule. Rate your self each week.
- Make use of technology - some of it is FREE.
You could buy a $300 GPS watch or install a free app like Cardio Trainer on your smartphone. It tracks your distance, speed, route and stores critical data of all your runs. There's something uniquely satisfying about looking at your previous run records and the progress you've made over the months.
- Running shoes: much ado about nothing.
As much as possible stay away from the jargon sports shoe salesmen are tutored to disseminate. The entire running shoe industry is built on a shaky foundation. I ran my marathon in minimalist shoes with soles meant to provide only basic protection for the feet and nothing more. I believe the best way to run is to run naturally - why should your shoes attempt to influence your running form? Read the book 'Born to Run' to learn more. Most manufacturers are now introducing running shoes that allow you to run naturally.
- Its not how much you can run, its how fast you can recover.
Recovery is the key to all practice run. Remember the basic principle of recovery: RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Also, if possible buy something called a foam roller. It helped me recover from a near show-stopping knee injury 4 weeks before the marathon.
- Daily motivation helps.
Subscribe to Runner's World quote of the day. You will be surprised how eerily close it will be to whatever you're going through.
- Listen to your body.
No running schedule and recovery aids can help if you ignore what your body is telling you. Yes, almost all runners at times go beyond limits. But such instances should be an exception and not the norm. You simply know when you are not fit enough to run and need to rest.
- Finding the time to run
A full marathon requires serious commitment in terms of time. I traveled over 100 days last year with a fair share of red-eye flights and jet lags. One of my biggest learning was that finding time for an activity is a function of two things - how high is it in your priority and weather you really enjoy it, which brings me to my last point.
- Do you really enjoy running?
Finally, it boils down to this - do you find running rejuvenating or a chore? There will be days when you come home after a hard day's work and would need to do your 10km practice run. Only those who really enjoy running will eventually manage to stay true to the practice schedule.