The Tucson Marathon is just 20 days away. That’s 8-10 (depending on how much my travel schedule gets in the way) training runs left. I’m still very much at the beginning of what I hope will be a life long distance running career, but I realized I’ve learned a lot in training for this first marathon.
Most of the “serious” stuff I’ve learned isn’t that interesting. Who, but other people training for a marathon, cares about Fartleks, 880s or the nutritional composition of the perfect kale smoothie?
The answer is exactly zero people. It’s the frivolous stuff I’ve learned that’s actually interesting. And, I think these lessons apply pretty much universally to working to accomplish anything that requires endurance, mental strength and sacrifice.
Tip 1: Dress for fun (and invest in good socks.)
I’m really into bright workout clothes. Like Kids Incorporated audition bright.Nothing makes me happier than my hot pink sports bra, my purple running shorts and my neon yellow Newtons. They add pizzazz. They remind me not to take what I’m doing too seriously. When you’re pounding through hour three of a four hour run it’s the little things that make you happy. Today in fact I went on a long run and I swear the only thing that kept me going for miles 10 and 11 was looking at and feeling happy about my gold glitter nail polish.
Today I also learned an important lesson when it comes to dressing flashy – you can go overboard and it will be embarrassing. I got some new running tights this weekend in fuchsia because I’m just that annoying. Big time mistake. I’m a really sweaty person with (apparently) really sweaty legs and by the end of my 20 miler it pretty much looked like I’d peed myself. Luckily at the time I was too tired to care. Distance running has a way of taking away your sense of personal dignity I guess. I am, however, retrospectively embarrassed.
As for the socks, isn’t it just a general life rule that you want your feet to be dry and as comfy as possible?
Tip 2: Show tunes.
I swear the only thing that’s getting me through this last stretch of training is the Rent soundtrack. If your taste skews less 90s, Wicked is also great to run to. If you’re a little more classic in your musical theater taste, Les Miserables is great (especially “One day more!”) If your taste skews more fabulous I strongly suggest Mama Mia. I haven’t tried it, but I bet Caberet is great too. I can say from experience that both Anything Goes and Oklahoma are not great for running.
Then again – you’re talking to an ex drama nerd who used to dress up in a leotard and perform all the parts of Cats out in her bedroom. So, there’s that. I think this works for me because I enjoy lip synching along and pretending I’m the female lead in each play.
Tip 3: Develop a complex and interesting inner life.
I’ve always had a really detailed one so long stretches of time alone to play pretend is actually something I look forward. I’m really great at imaging elaborate scenarios and carrying on conversations with myself for hours. Favorite scenarios include picking out my wardrobe and planning my acceptance speech should I ever win a Daytime Emmy Award (secret childhood dream) and telling off ex-boyfriends and enemies with the kind of dignity and snappy language that gets slow claps from the imaginary onlookers in my imaginary confrontation scenarios. Some runners have mantras. I have fantasy land.
Tip 4: Have a stressful job.
I have one. I love it, but am frequently stressed out by it. This has fueled more than one long run. Bonus – running takes away stress and has made me a better problem solver and manager.
Tip 5: Make time to treat yo self.
I failed to do this earlier in the month and as a result of running outside with a terrible head cold I gave myself pneumonia. Don’t do this. It sucks and I lost three weeks of real training time. Give yourself time to rest. Get massages. Get pedicures and don’t feel too embarrassed by how gnarly your feet are.
Something else I think should fall under this heading is that after a long run, if you feel like eating all the food that there is in the world, give yourself the mental go ahead. You just burned thousands of calories (about 100 per 10 minutes… which if you run for like 270 minutes is a lot of calories!) Chances are you won’t really eat all the food in the world, but you will allow yourself to eat something really satisfying instead of trying to be “good.” And for the love of god, I hope you’re not running a marathon with weight loss as a primary goal (because if you are I worry you might die) but if you’re worried about weight take heart in the fact that I continue to eat food, including lots of carbs, on a regular basis and yet have lost 25 pounds this year. More proof that running is an amazing sport.