How to run a marathon 26.2 miles (in a month) (1.5 miles at a time)

by David

in Featured 2, Health & Fitness

At the start of June I set myself a great challenge to run a marathon by the end of the month. Picture credit

I covered a marathon distance of 26.2 miles by running 1.5 miles at a time.

I ran the final part of that marathon on June 20th and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

I am very pleased to have achieved my little challenge. It’s another little victory to chalk up.

Yes, I know it wasn’t a real marathon, but calling it that made it interesting and exciting to me.

Motivation

Shame – (Or challenge!) I was shamed into it. A couple of months ago I was sitting in the barber’s chair discussing the best way for the man with the scissors to disguise my receding hairline. His best advice was… wear a hat. Gee, thanks!

I changed the subject and we started talking about running. I told him that I used to run until I injured my knee. I told him my war story about how I’d torn the cartilage in my left knee and needed surgery. I explained that I hadn’t dared to run since the operation because I was frightened I’d do more damage.

Well, we already know from the hat quip that he didn’t care much about sparing my feelings, but it was confirmed when he shot me a withering look in the mirror and told me the tale of his ruptured cruciate ligament, the grafts and multiple surgeries.

To really ram the point home (the point being that I’m a wimp) he told me he’d done a couple of half marathons AND he’d gone back to kick-boxing.

His point was a good one. I felt like a wimp, so I decided to change that.

I set myself a challenge, I made a promise.

Experimentation – If you look at my blog it’s almost all about my diet. It’s not supposed to be all about my diet, it’s supposed to be about so many other fantastic things to do with being a work at home parent – but right now I need to do this before I can move on to those things. You’ll eventually see why and how what I’m doing now plays into it.

But anyway, for the duration of my diet, other than walking the dogs twice daily, I’ve done no exercise. I wanted to show it was possible to lose weight without killing yourself with some crazy fitness regimen. And it turns out it is.

So in this current phase of my weight loss, while I’m trying to lose the last blobs of fat and get a flat stomach, I wanted to see what adopting a crazy fitness regimen would do – and I’ll talk more about that another time.

Changing behaviour – I couldn’t let another month go by without achieving something. Have you ever noticed how days and weeks just drift by in the same old patterns of behaviour? It pains me when I look back and discover I haven’t accomplished anything  other than the usual ‘just-enough-to-get-by stuff.

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How to run a marathon (my way)

Specialist running equipment

First I got myself some top of the range running shoes. Actually no. I used the cheap old  ‘leisure shoes’ I use to walk in  the woods.

Then I bought myself a running vest made from the advanced fabric that wicks away sweat and keeps you dry. Erm, actually, no. I used whatever t-shirt I’d been wearing throughout the day.

I’m all into the ‘right look’ so I had to shell out for the best running pants available. Or to be more truthful, I wore my 15 year old nylon tracksuit bottoms.

Gotta have the blister inhibiting 1000 mile running socks! No, you don’t gotta have ’em. Two pairs of black wool / cotton mix socks will do.

And of course you must track your heart rate with a high tech multi-function heart rate monitor. Or not. I chose… not.

Music motivates a runner, so buying an ipod seemed like a no brainer. But I have one. A brain, not an ipod, so I made do with the wind in my ears.

Look, the thing is, I’ve been here before. I bought all the expensive gear and I didn’t need any of it. I’ll upgrade my shoes at some point but that’s about it.

Preparation

Even going into something like this requires some preparation. I’ve been running almost every day and I can do that only because I eased myself into it.

I hadn’t been running for two years at all. I injured my knee so I couldn’t run. The I had a surgery on my knee and couldn’t run.

But every day, twice a day, I walked the dogs. I go at a fair pace. When I encounter runners in the woods, they have to pick up their pace to overtake me.

Then last month I did a few trial runs to get back in the swing of things.

The running

Just start running 1.5 miles each day, slowly and gently.

It’s not a race, the onkly thing that mattered to me was covering the distance.

It doesn’t have to be a mile and ahalf it could be just a mile. There are enough days in the month to run only a mile and still make the target.

Making a little progress every day soon adds up.

Injuries

I’m pleased to say I didn’t sustain any. Not even a blister.

I had a few minor niggles to contend with, but nothing that was enough to stop me.

I didn’t warm up, I just started slow and picked up the pace gradually.

There are no prizes for being reckless and injuring yourself and I kept that in mind througout.

Post workout nutrition.

Not every time, but there have been days when I’ve eaten a slice of toast with marmalade and a cup of tea.

It’s not great from a nutritional point of view (probably), but hey.

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Other considerations

  • Because I’m running a calorie defict I ran late evening so that I’d have enough energy from dinner.
  • It’s cooler in the evening.
  • There’s no one to witness my labouring and wheezing (fortunately there wasn’t much of either)
  • Running last thing means I end the day on a win.
  • After a hectic day it’s a great way to decompress, relax the body and relax the mind.
  • While I was still warm I’d use it as a chance to knock out a few push ups for my pother challenge (10,000 push ups)

Surprises / unanticipated benefits

  • I had intened to spread the running out over the 30 days of the month, but I finished with 10 clear days to spare.
  • I wasn’t expecting to get into it. I thought I’d fight it more than I did.
  • My recovery time improved dramatically within only three weeks.

Why it worked

  • It was easy. I couldn’t have made it simpler.
  • There was no pressure. I had plenty of time.
  • I did it in small bite sized chunks. Little and often would be another way to put it.
  • It wasn’t daunting or oppressive. It was relaxed and fun.
  • It’s easy to fit in. It takes 20 minutes including getting ready and recovery.
  • It was mostly for the sake of the challenge. It had hardly anything to do with fitness or diet.

More of the why

Because I can.

Because I said I’d do it.

Because I missed running.

Because it was a challenge.

Because it meant I had to find the self-discipline to do it.

Because there are other people who would love to do it but can’t.

Because someone encouraged me, told me I was doing amazing things and I couldn’t let him down.

Because it’s moving me closer to the kind of life I want to live.

So that I’d have something good to talk about

Because it’s an awesome thing to do.

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Conclusion

Just as it is for everyone else, there were times when I didn’t want to go. And times when I wanted to stop. There were times I felt under the weather, but went anyway. There was even a time I wanted to lose my dinner but I kept it down and kept going.

Overcoming the resistance and making it happen feels amazing.

To serious runners my little challenge is nothing more than a warm-up, but for someone like me, who hasn’t done any running in 2 years, it feels like a big deal and worthwhile thing to have done.

What next? Well, funny you should ask…

With over a week left, I feel there’s enough time to cram in a half marathon. So that’s what I’ll do.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bryan June 23, 2012 at 1:38 am

All I can say is I really feel like a lazy slug now. I feel like I am being “shamed” into getting up off my duff. Maybe this will pass, but I am having my doubts.
I did learn a new word from this post = niggles. I had to look that one up.
Actually as I read this I was thinking, man you need to put all this together into an ebook.
You had me on all the purchases of the fancy equipment, that was really good.
Did I miss it on the push ups, did you say a number there?
Very nice and inspirational.

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David June 23, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Bryan, I wouldn’t feel too bad, after all, this particular challenge is pretty mad.
Thanks for the suggestion about the book. It could be something I look at down the line.
I didn’t mention the push ups in this post but I’ll post an update about that–but in essense I’ve taken a two day break. All will be made clear shortly. 🙂
I did have a little chuckle about the equipment list. Getting the best gear is nice, but it’s not essential. Just wait until I post a picture of my ‘running shoes’!
Thanks as always for the support!!

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