I wasn't a workout guru in college.
I never sat down as a kid and said,"You know, I think I'll run a marathon one day."
I had absolutely NO experience running, so if I can do this, anyone can.
It all began as a way to lose weight. At 28, I was slightly overweight. I love to eat, so I realized the only way to prevent further weight gain was to start working out. At first, I started doing Taebo videos. I dropped about 10 pounds and started getting bored with exercise. One random day, I decided to try jogging.
That first day out, I went about half a mile and limped home. I really felt like something was trying to rip my muscles and lungs out of my body. I wasn't about to give up though. I decided it was war... me against running. I was going to win.
I started researching. I looked up different running plans on the internet and in Runner's World. I bought decent shoes, slowed down my pace, and took every other day off. After about a week, I could run a mile in 11 minutes without stopping.
From there, I continued working on distance. After about 2 months, I could run 3 miles without stopping. For a while, I was happy with this, and focused on running this distance faster and faster.
In April of 2007, about 4-5 months after that first day out, I signed up for my first 5K. My time was 26:44, and it was a small enough race to actually place 2nd in my age group! I was ecstatic, and hooked on running.
A week later, I finally said the words, "I think I'll run a marathon one day."
That day came 10 months later.
It only made sense to me to sign up for a half-marathon first, which was 2 1/2 months before the full marathon. I followed Hal Higdon's Novice training plan for the full marathon, and the half-marathon took the place of my long run for that weekend.
What the research says is true- the long runs are the most important. DO NOT SKIP THEM! During the week, it is important to maintain a regular running schedule, but these runs should stay fairly short.. 3-6 miles, 4 days a week for beginners. Recovery is also crucial. Every 3 weeks, cut back on your mileage to prevent injury... even if you're feeling invincible.
Many people ask me where the determination came from. It's a valid question... running a marathon is more mental than anything else. Anyone in halfway decent shape can start training for it and successfully finish it, but not everyone has the determination to go on a 3 hour "jog" once a week. I won't lie... it can be hard to get out there and do it. You will feel tired, you will feel pain, and you might get bored. Here are some things I did to keep myself motivated:
1. On "long run day," I ate WHATEVER I wanted as a reward.
2. I told everyone I knew I was training for a marathon, and invited my entire family. I couldn't disappoint them, you know?
3. I frequently let myself daydream about crossing the finish line.
Trust me, this a goal worth finishing. A perfect exercise in goal-setting, and the finish line will provide a sense of accomplishment you may have never before experienced.