I started training for marathons in high school as part of a group that was meant to help expose inner-city kids to the health benefits of running, and the commitment of training for the foreboding 26.2.
That group and our coaches are the reason I know anything about training and running: how to do it, when to do it, where to do it. Making sure not to get run over, but wait- don’t get shin splints either. Oh, and by the way- your knees are going to be kinda weak when you get out the car after accomplishing the great feat, so maybe it would be better to just sleep in the car instead. Yeah, that’s a good idea.
But really, they taught me what to eat, what to wear, and overall guided myself and the rest of our team from a 5K to a 10K to a 15K, and ultimately to a marathon… Except that I didn’t really run the marathon. I headed up the back of the pack and hoped the finish line would still be standing by the time I got there. If there was a Pokemon that could characterize my pace, it would probably be a slowpoke.
It wasn’t just me, though. I walked with (usually) two of my coaches who told me gory stories about blood blisters, and pretty much talked about anything under the sun (did you know that marathoners are supposed to wear red nail polish, and triathletes where blue?!) . It was really nice, and I enjoyed spending that time with them. Our pace probably ranged anywhere between 15-15:30 min/mi on a good day.
Recently, I decided I wanted to be a marathoner again. In March it was a 5K at 13:35 min/mi, then in April it was a 10K at 12:27 min/mi, and that brings us to May. There was rain, hail, and darkness, but my pace was 13:47 min/mi, and that makes me feel happy inside. I’m pretty sure I need to get new shoes (maybe go back to Nikes?) that can support my pancake-flat feet, because my arches were hurting for the bulk of the run. And when your feet hurt, your shins start to hurt, and then it’s your knees and your hips, and it’s like someone thought it would be fun to play dominoes with your body parts.
Maybe my past marathons don’t count because I walked most of the way. But I can still use the knowledge my coaches imparted on me to get faster now, and that’s what I plan to do. So here’s to all the petroleum jelly, band-aids, and sunblock in my future. 🙂