Last Saturday I ran with a friend who recently completed the New York City Marathon (and instantly became my hero). As you can imagine we spent a lot of time talking about her experience, and one thing she said stuck in my mind.
According to her the first eighteen miles “just flew by”
Just so you know, that isn’t the normal response
I remember what she said while having lunch with friends yesterday. One of them told me about a couple who decided to run a marathon, and had a very different experience.
Around mile eighteen she started vomiting heavily and it took her about an hour to get started again
Hearing two very different stories during the same weekend had a strong effect on me. Personally I expect myself to be somewhere in the middle 
Obviously there is a big difference between running strong and puking your brains out, but the question is what makes that difference.
The answer is quite simple…practicing running longer distances
See for the last eighteen weeks my training group has met at 6:15 Saturday morning (usually) for the groups long run.
How long a run you may ask? Well let me put it this way, just on Saturdays we ran around 253 miles combined.
Oh wait it gets better…
In the month of October my Saturday runs looked like this:
- Eighteen miles
- Fourteen miles (including every hill in Winston Salem)
- Twenty miles
- Twenty-Two miles
If you multiply all of our Saturday miles by the average time it takes to run one (and divide by sixty) you come up with about forty-two hours spent just running on Saturdays.
The reason why people don’t run marathons (or get in shape) isn’t because we are all just incredibly lazy. It’s because of the huge committment required .
That’s why it’s easy to approach something like fitness and think “you know I could probably get by with doing less”
Don’t do it
You will find yourself puking on the side of the road instead of finishing strong.
It’s far better to count the cost, make a conscious decision about whether or not you can do this, and follow through to the end.
I was talking with my brother (who is also running the marathon) on Saturday and he encouraged me to “just enjoy the race.”
And as crazy as it may sound…I think I will