What I've Learned About Marathons

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19 June 2017

So, with marathon number 3 in the bag I can reflect a bit on lessons learned in the process.

1). What to pack. I've only done well supported city marathons so far, so I haven't had to carry water. My little fanny pack includes

6 Stinger goo packs - these are essential to avoid hitting the wall
2 extra bandaids - these always get gross with sweat, but still work as replacements for the ones that I start out with on my nipples
mini sunblock - for reapplication midrace to avoid burning
license & credit card - in case of emergency; also, for beer tent access after the race

2). Drink all the water. Drink at every stop, thirsty or not. You will get dehydrated before you realize it, so heading this off is super important. Trust the math on this one even if your body isn't giving you thirst signals yet.

3). Pace yourself. Start slower than shorter distance races and try to maintain that pace throughout. I generally hit the first pee stop because the lines are way shorter than at the startline and it destroys my changes of making a good 5K or 10K time. This frees me from thinking about those shorter splits.

4). Stop. Stop to drink. Stop to to the restroom. Stop to massage the lactic acid out of sore muscles. In a marathon taking 30 seconds to take care of your body, the vehicle you're using to travel on this journey, can make the miles ahead easier, go faster, and even possible.

5). Eat. On long distances ingesting carbohydrates is just as critical as staying hydrated. Fatigue from not eating can overtake you before you realize it, so trusting the math here rather than listening to your body's signals is important.

6). Beer stops are okay. The Nashville Rock n Roll marathon has several. Seattle, not so much. You're not going to get drunk on half a cup of beer, but it definitely gives me enough of a buzz to focus and ignore the pain, especially after that 20 mile mark.

7). Listen to your body. This marathon will not be your last marathon. You have the rest of your life to live and all the marathons ahead. If you hit the wall, or get a cramp, or twist out your ankle, or whatever: laugh. That's right, laugh. Realize that your life is a comedy, not a tragedy and have a little schadenfreude at your own misfortune. Laughter will also put you in a mindset to work the problem. Give up on finishing the race, making a PR, or whatever your goal is that day. "Renounce and enjoy" as Gandhi once said. Be completely present in working the problem by massaging out the cramp, finding vasoline for your chafing or assessing if you can even walk on your ankle. This marathon is just a small part of the marathon of your life. Focus on solving the problem and you may find yourself back on the road before you know it.

8). Vasoline between the legs is essential to prevent chafing. I was a mess after my first marathon because I didn't do this. Bloody patches the size of my fist on the inner side of each thigh. Smart prevent is key here just like with hydration and carbohydrate intake. If you wait until they start hurting, then it's already too late.

9). Bandaids on the nipples. Bloody nipples won't destroy a race, but they can be painful. And ruin shirts.

10). Thank your crew and the volunteers. They make your marathon possible.

My beautiful race crew

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This file last modified 20 June 2017 by Bradley James Wogsland.

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