Many years later, I decided to sign up and train for my first marathon. In the meantime, my husband had a gym membership and consistently went to the gym at least 5 days a week, running no more than 2 miles on the treadmill and lifting weights. He was doing this consistently for 2 years. He didn’t feel like wasting his whole day at the gym, so 1 hour was sufficient. I trained hard for the marathon. I live in the Midwest, and training started in January; so, training inside at a gym was the only way I could get my running time in. I trained mostly on a treadmill. The most I ran was 13.1 miles during my training, but had some good mileage in daily, with core work and lots of weights. There weren’t training models available to follow like they have available today; but, I felt ready. The time arrived for me to pick up my packet it was the day before my marathon race. I was getting nervous and told my husband that I was not going to do the marathon. He quickly said, “I’ll go with you and sign up to run it with you.” (This was the time when you could sign up for the marathon up until race day because running a marathon was for the elite runner and it was pretty special back in the day). I asked, “Without training?” And of course his response was, “Mind over matter.” We proceeded to pick up our packets and plan for the time to arrive. I ran a sub 8:30 at a 4:10 hours and he came in around 5:10 hours. We both finished. I was 10 minutes off from getting 3rd in my age group. The consequence of running our first ever marathon, we both limped for a good week after the run and learned how to work out that lactic acid in our muscles, but we did it.
Years’ later, after running 6 marathons and over 60 half marathons, I decided to test this theory out. I ran the Detroit marathon the end of October and my last half was in November. This was my last long run until my scheduled half and full, back-to-back, in January, 6 weeks of only 2 times running about 4 miles. My training was not the usual mileage; I practiced a form of hot yoga 2 times a day during the weeks prior to the marathon weekend.
I made it to the weekend, deciding to go with it, run it one mile at a time. I ran the half marathon on Saturday; it was tough after mile 9 and was happy to be done at 13.1. I finished around 9:00 a.m., did some yoga, slept for 1 hour then headed out to the beach for the remainder of the day. Woke up early the next morning, promising myself to take in the experience and not worry about the number of miles. I did just that. During the run I ran each mile with focus, and then walked the water stations as long as I needed to allow my body to recover. I focused on the run this way, each mile. I finished!
I came back to work the next day and people could not believe I was at work. I wasn’t limping, just had a little swell in my left foot. That went down day 2 and day 3 I was able to run a short 5K without a problem. A week after (everything is said and done) I look back and sometimes wonder how I was able to make this happened. One thing I do know is that without having the marathon running experience these past 11 years, finishing these two runs back-to-back would have never happened.
This is my little applied research on myself. The hypothesis, “You can run a marathon without training all those miles. Training can be substituted with an alternative cardio and strength-builder workout like hot yoga;” the added caveat is “with long distance experience and several marathons complete.” The way to do it is to run the marathon in small chunks and focus on the experience and listen to your body.
You can do it; anything is possible if you put your mind to it. J