The accuracy of that meme is eerie. Anytime I get a chance to bring up the fact that I’ve run 26.2 multiple times, I’m in. It takes four months to train, and I’ve run three. Third grade math tells me that I’ve spent a year of my life training for marathons. As I’m typing this, it’s the first time I’ve realized that. Woof. Is there any way to retroactively make the year I spent training, also the year that I thought wearing a bump it was a good idea?
I thought I’d share life lessons that training and running have taught me. If you’re a runner, you’ll relate. If you’re not a runner, I bet you’ll relate too. My brand is mass appeal and polka dots.
Lesson Five: The right pair of underwear can change your life.
A “good” marathon time, for those of you who might not know, is about four hours. Four hours of running. Four hours of potential chafing. I cannot stress the importance of good underwear. Whether you are running the roads of a city for sport, or running to Starbucks for a grande Americano with a pump of vanilla and room for cream, wear good unmentionables.
Lesson Four: You can eat whatever you want, but you probably shouldn’t
You burn a lot of calories when you’re training, so you’re eating constantly to give your body the fuel you need to sustain the long hours.
You can fool yourself into thinking you can eat whatever you want. After my very first 20 mile run, I came in and gorged myself on some red velvet cookies that my mom had made. I then proceeded to throw up said cookies for the next twelve hours. A lesson to us all-eat things with vitamins and nutrients not red dye number 40.
Lesson Three: Never underestimate the healing powers of a bath
After long runs, my tradition became to rehydrate, soak in an epsom salt bath, and listen to a podcast. You’d be surprised what twenty minutes of relaxation will do for a person’s mind and muscles. Even if you’re not running around like a hamster on a wheel, have a little bath moment.
Lesson Two: There’s no substitute for consistency
You fall. You get up. You don’t do well. You try again. You set a goal. You finish it.
My marathon running started when I turned twenty-six. I told my dad that I thought it would be fun to run twenty-six miles when I was twenty-six. He told me that was ridiculous, and he’d believe it when he saw it. Welp, I’m a touch competitive and stubborn, so I made a calendar and googled a training plan and wrote out my running schedule for the next four months. I crossed off every single day- even the day that it snowed and I had to run fourteen miles on a treadmill while watching Seinfeld. I still think that’s why I can’t watch Seinfeld ever. But I finished, and I am better for it.
Lesson One: Never underestimate the power of an encouraging word
I’ve run the Little Rock marathon twice and the Atlanta marathon once. When you run long distance races, your name is printed on your race bib. I distinctly remember running up a hill in Little Rock and a group of people outside a church started yelling my name because they read it on my bib. I didn’t know a single one of them but having people shout, “Come on, Kat.” “You’re doing great, Kat.” “Kat, keep going.” truly added some pep to my step.
When I ran the Atlanta marathon, some friends rode scooters all through the city to meet me at various checkpoints. They told me beforehand the mile markers where they would be, and I can’t begin to tell you the mental difference it made for me knowing that I’d have a cheering section in another mile. My sister, Saralyn, and her family surprised me at mile 23, which happened to be the most difficult mile, and it helped me get up the hill. Slowly. But I got there. I had a lot of encouragement in Atlanta, and I shaved forty minutes off my previous time. I missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon by seven minutes. Was I in SUCH better shape? Or did kindness make THAT much of a difference? I can’t be sure.
All that to say, encourage your people. Be nice to strangers. A kind word goes a long way. Be the Jerry you want to see in the world. #cheer
Bonus Lesson: Watch the nipples, Kevin