Friday, May 23, 2014

So You're Running a Marathon This Weekend...

...or a half-marathon, or a 10k or a 5k.  All of them count. But I am pretty sure that blog title is pretty "Upworthy-esque" and will get more clicks. Nevertheless, here are some last minute tips/reminders.

1. Your Time Is Inconsequential

If you want to get right down to it, basically everything is inconsequential when you pull back far enough.  But my point is that if you don't run as fast as you want, it is not the end of the world. If you are looking for accolades, your friends in the know will still understand how someday race day is not your day and your friends not in the know think anyone running any distance ever is amazing. If you are running for self-gratification, then the fact you put yourself on the starting line should be enough, deep down, to give you a sense of accomplishment. If you are running for charity, or in someone's memory, or to have fun, who cares about your time?

2. You're Damn Right Your Time Matters!

The difference between running and racing is that when you toe the line of the race, you have made an unspoken agreement that you will run the fastest you can on that day. You can run easy and have fun and celebrate your existence the other six days of the week. Now you can argue with me but will you argue with the ghost of Steve Prefontaine (and his nipples?)

3. Chances Are High This Won't Be Your Day

It doesn't matter if you trained properly, ate right, had a wonderful night of sleep, etc., the odds you will have a great race are low. Why? Because, especially in the longer distances, the number of things that can go wrong are enormous.

Accept that reality. Do what you can with what you have. Racing is nothing short of a metaphor for life and life is nothing short of failing and learning how to do it better the next time. There are not shortcuts to the finishline. Well, there are, but you will get DQd.

4. HOLY CRAP! You Are Running Far

Think back to a time before you completed the longest run you have ever done. Try to not be a runner for a second. Do you best to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has not run 5 or 10 or 13.1 or 26.2 miles. It's pretty darn amazing. I often will see a destination sign on a road trip and think "Well, if my car broke down, I could run there in about three hours. In these jeans."

I did a 12 hour race once where I ran 84 miles around a one mile loop. That first step after 26.2 miles was the furthest I have ever ran. So, being a map guy, I mapped out what 84 miles would look like in a circle from the spot where I started. This is what it looked like.

I suggest you do the same with whatever distance you are running from a place you know very well.  Your home. Your office. Actually, do it from your childhood home. Remember how big everything seemed when you were five? Well,  plot out a 5 or 10 or 13.1 or 26.2 mile circle from the doorstep of your house. You are going to run that far! That is fantastic.

5. Don't Freak Out About How Far You Are Running

OK, maybe hold off on the circle until you are done. If I had done that before I ran the 12 Hour race I might have hyperventilated. Of course, I didn't know I was going to run that far and didn't know I really should not have been able to average an 8:34 mile for 12 hours, but still. Yes, you are running a long way. But you can only get there one step at a time. Don't worry about how long the total distance is. Worry about how far it is to that mailbox. Then to the corner. Then to that cute guy/girl in front of you who went out too fast.

Thinking about how far you have to go has never helped anyone get there faster. Simply think about how far you have come. Literally and figuratively.

6.  You Don't Have To; You Get To

I say this all the time. No one is forcing you to do this. You chose to do this. Also, think about how many people in this world would love to be able to run as far or as fast as you can. Think about those who never will be able to. This is a privilege. It is something you have worked hard for, no doubt, but it takes a lot of good fortune to even get to the starting line.  And the only way to get to the finish is to get to the start.

Now give yourself a high-five and triple check when you are running to make sure that fart isn't actually going to be poop.

You don't want to become a meme.


Billy Tichenor said...

Well said, Dane! Many of these things we should often remind ourselves of!

Billy Tichenor said...

We should remind ourselves of these points. Feel blessed that we can, in fact, run a race. Many can't.

Terra said...

Everything in one post:)

Josh said...

... and don't crap your pants.

Becca Jane said...

Excellent post!

Ross said...

Great article. I just drew a map with a 26.2 mile radius from the house I grew up in. Really amazing to see how far that looked.

Unknown said...

Great post!

Unknown said...

Love this! Very encouraging. Great post, Dane!

Unknown said...

Nice read before my first marathon on Sunday up in loch ness, Scotland.