Five weeks ago, ever not a formal runner, I signed up for the Army 10-Miler. A week later, figuring that I'll be training anyway for the Army 10-Miler, I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon. Sure, I've had moments of enthusiasm to run regularly, be it to finish a 5K. But this is something different. This has a purpose.
I must now hold myself to a training schedule with increasing weekly and long-run mileage counts. I'll have to make sure my body's not ingesting too much sugar and make it a point to hydrate until it comes out clear (too much information?). My post-work and weekend availability is determined by off-days. I've started to become that guy and it'll only get worse.
Discipline lesson #1, courtesy Karate Kid.
My sister has run 4 marathons (soon to be 5) and 3 half marathons with ease, smiling and giving a thumbs up in every picture when you're supposed to be hitting the wall. I don't know how she can handle herself so well despite the discomfort that marathons are supposed to provide. So yes, some of my marathon running desire stems from sibling rivalry that if she can do it, so can I! Not better, but still finish. Her running prowess eliminates any excuse I have to blame my struggle on bad genes.
And no, I won't be running shirtless...not even Santa Clauses in speedos should be.
To complete both races I must do that thing that I've battled with for far too long. That thing that I lacked, resulting in an easy B+ student when just a little more time, energy, and concentration would have made me an A- student. That thing that drives people to do things they didn't think they could do.
That thing is discipline.
Discipline to stick to a schedule, run when I don't want to, ignore drizzling rain because I may have to run in the rain on race day anyway, and waking up for an early morning run to beat the summer heat. Discipline to make up for the times I couldn't hold myself to cleaning up my room, mowing the lawn on schedule, and quitting karate in 3rd grade after 3 weeks because it interfered with the Cosby show.
I am not phased (yet) by the seemingly insurmountable distance that a marathon requires. I'm not looking at that distance now, just each week's demands. I'm taking this in baby steps, adding a mile each week. While the double-digit weekend runs around the corner seem immense, the training's discipline will get me there. Eventually. Slowly but surely. I think. I hope.
I'm three weeks into my training and so far it has been going well. I made my beginner marathon schedule by combining the many offered to me and I guess it has worked; offering enough freedom should I need to delay a run or the weekend weather doesn't comply. The schedule is not for speed, but distance. My goal is to finish what I started, not qualify for the Boston Marathon.
As I delve deeper into this world of running beyond 5K charity weekend runners, I've learned about the importance of materials that wick away sweat, properly fitted shoes, and Body Glide. I've come to realize it's not the best to go on long runs in heavy basketball shorts, even if the Maryland terrapin is emblazoned all over. Fitted shoes and arch insoles from a running store have been a godsend.
By far, the best advice received has been from my sister when she said I'd never chafe again if I used Body Glide, a roll-on stick that makes sure places that rub during long runs don't leave you waddling like a penguin. It works fantastically, even for my measly athletic level. It sure beats my old combination of baby powder and Monistat chafing relief powder gel (it was the only anti-chafing option I saw in Target, I swear!).