The interweb is littered with advice on how to run marathons. There are countless pages telling you how to train, what to expect, when to do how many miles. You can find reviews of every piece of marathon kit you will ever need and several thousand more that you won’t. There are blogs, some even as good as this one, where people share their stories of marathon running. The race organisers will send you details of what to do on race day, your friendly physio or coach will keep on at you about stretching, foam rolling, ice baths.
But there is one vital piece of information that no one ever gives the amateur marathon enthusiast. Some simple words of wisdom that I have never heard uttered before. Advice so breathtakingly obvious it nearly goes without saying…but by not saying it we invite catastrophe.
Because I am about to fire a truth bullet straight out my tr-uzi and blow your mind all over the room with the very best recommendation I can ever give to someone attempting a marathon.
Are you ready?
Never, ever, under any circumstances, have another big bastard marathon booked before you have finished your current one.
Never cross a finish line and be in a situation where moments later the evil little voice in your head says “now do it again in a few months”. Do not hang up your shiny new 26.2 medal then open the training plan for your next marathon.
Because here’s what will happen.
You will hate running. You will look at the words on the page and though they only say “3 mile gentle run” you won’t think of the joy of a slow jog around the park and back. You will instead think “I wanted to do 5 miles today” or “I don’t feel like running at all in this rain” or maybe even “is it mini egg season yet? stuff running, I’m off to the pub”.
Marathon running takes commitment. Not just 26.2 miles of it but hundreds and hundreds of miles of doing what your told, of long runs every week, painful massage and foam rolling, sacrificing fun for those four or five sessions a week you have to fit in to be at your best come race day. It is a commitment every runner should relish at least once, but when you’ve done it be absolutely sure that the next run you do, the one after that and the one after that, for a month or two at least, is for fun.
Leave behind the rigours of marathon training and just run. Because if you don’t you will forget why you started and resent what you’re doing. If you are lucky you will push on, hating every moment but somehow achieving greatness with your next endurance feat even if you can’t enjoy it. If you’re not so lucky, you may end up listening to the voice in your head and spending weeks eating mini eggs in the pub.
And then you’ll find yourself with race day looming, way behind on any training schedule, dreading what you have to achieve over the next 11 weeks when all you really want to do is run, for fun.
Wise words. The voice of experience. Don’t make my mistake, you will regret it.