Sports: Marathon Training for People Who Aren't That Into Marathons

April 2012

This coming Monday, I get the satisfaction of knocking a biggie off the Bucket List: running the Boston Marathon.

Yes, I’m excited; yes, I’ve worked hard; yes, I’m going to love the feeling of crossing the finish line no matter how well I do.

And here’s why I’ll never run it again:

1. The Boston Marathon is a springtime race. Which is to say, you have to train for it in the winter—when there’s snow on the ground and it gets dark at 5 p.m. Translation: If you work normal daytime hours, you need to reeeeeally love the treadmill. The problem: I. Hate. Treadmills. They are miserable. And they encourage fixation with trashy TV shows that I’d never watch if I weren’t tethered to the damn treadmill. 

2. And then there’s the issue of the dreaded “long run.” Unless you want to do 17 miles on a machine in a hot, airless gym (the word “hamster” comes to mind here), you get your mileage in on weekend days, before darkness falls and it gets too cold to feel your fingers. But guess what else I save for my weekends in the winter? That’s right: Skiing. Ever tried to ski a full day and then tack on a couple hours of running when the boots come off? Major buzzkill for that sweet—and, this year, rare—powder day.

3. My apparent inability to say no to happy hour specials in cold weather—while I like to think it didn’t hurt my training—it probably took its toll. See, when your friends are downing half-price glasses of wine at your favorite cozy gathering spot, the disciplined thing to do when you have miles scheduled would be to pass on the girls’ night and distract yourself at the gym instead. My strategy: Order a glass (or two), indulge early on, and head to the gym after the crew disperses, maybe around nine o’clock. What’s a glass of white before your workout, anyway? It’s all sugar, right? Energy to burn! (Yes, really, I’ve rationalized it this way.)

4. Running isn’t exactly my natural “thing.” I don’t have a runner’s physique, or fancy running gear, or proper technique (I don’t even know what that is, much less practice it). I can’t run a consistent pace, and I can’t for the life of me string together a run longer than nine or so miles without stopping for a break. In a moment of adrenaline spikeage, I happened to eke out a (barely) qualifying time in a previous race, and got super lucky in the notorious Boston Marathon lottery. What are the chances of that happening again?

Short answer: Slim to none. But that’s OK; I’ll take this one chance and do the best I can with my, er, under-disciplined training regimen. And in the grander scheme, I’ll consider it a win.