Thoughts from a 6 Time Marathoner
3 Unconventional Rules for Running a Marathon
By Gear Patrol Reader Michael A. Salter: Men who run marathons typically fall into one of two groups: (1) very boring and serious or (2) prone to excess in life. This article is geared to those who want to get their friends to sign up for marathons and to clock decent race times. And, of course, for those who like to eat, drink, exaggerate the myth of the marathon, keep some semblance of shape, and maintain a clear head. I won’t be discussing anything about endorphins, heart health, or other things that have been written about a million times.
“The serious runner will not appreciate this column; best-case scenario they will better understand the other half of the runners out there…”.
Motivational Rule #1: Alcohol
As a man who falls into the second group (excessive and enjoying life), I had not really contemplated marathon running. It all happened due to an evening of drinking in some NYC dive bar. I was with two close friends, and we must have struck out trying to talk to women. The conversation became self-destructive, and we started talking about marathons. After a few more drinks, we had talked ourselves into running the Las Vegas Marathon.
Having now completed six marathons and about to run my seventh, I have found that you can pretty much get anyone to sign up for a marathon by plying them with enough alcohol. I’ll be running the Big Sur marathon with three friends – all but one filled out the registration form while drinking. The one who signed up sober is a unique individual and some consider him an alien.
Motivational rule #2: Wagering
The evening we decided to run the Las Vegas Marathon, we made some bets involving travel and waxing. I won’t go into the details because I have a young son and a wife.
The evening we decided to run the Las Vegas Marathon, we made some bets involving travel and waxing. I won’t go into the details because I have a young son and a wife. The takeaway should be obvious – bet something meaningful and you will run faster. If you don’t care about your time don’t bother making a bet.
The format of the bet should be a simple over/under. A suggested bet to guarantee a personal record could be the following: if you run the race over X amount of time, you have to wear a half-shirt on the plane, if you run it under X amount of time your friend has to gain 10 pounds. In my personal experience wagering carries serious short-term consequences but ultimately makes for good stories.
Motivational rule #3: Pain
Running is painful. On good days, you push yourself hard and, on bad days, you feel like your body is broken. Most people who read Gear Patrol have been hungover (Ed. Note: Check). At some point in the evening, you decide if you are going to keep pushing or slow down and not screw up the rest of your work week or weekend. The key point here is that if you can certainly embrace the concept that pain is temporary. If you want to train the race will be less painful. If you don’t want to train, things will really hurt.
Regardless of how you train, you will, barring injury, finish the marathon. Unless you really care about your time, all that matters is that you put one foot in front of the other and cross that finish line. My race times have varied from under four hours to almost six hours. The difference between those races was how much I trained before hand. By skipping the pain of training, I paid for it on the day (and days after) of the race. Overall, my best times hurt a lot less then my worst times. However, I wouldn’t change anything about my race history because, unless I’m betting, I don’t care about time.
These rules only work on people who like to have fun. The serious runner will not appreciate this column; best-case scenario, they will better understand the other half of the runners out there. If you decide to run a marathon with your friends, you are going to have a great time. If you start the process and fail, you will still have a good time. Have a few drinks with your friends, insult their manhood, then bet them something they will regret – guaranteed they will sign up for a race.
About the Author: Besides being a repeat marathoner with a love/hate relationship for running, I am a serial entrepreneur with a background in finance and the founder of several successful businesses. When I’m not working on my next big idea, as a husband and Dad, I spend much of my time with my family in New York City. I found out about Gear Patrol through friends and really believe in the vision. If you have questions or thoughts on my article, feel free to comment, and I’ll get back to you.