How I Went From Walking the Mile Run to Running a Marathon (And You Can Too!)

The fact that I ran a marathon still kind of blows my mind. Me? The girl that used to walk the mile run in gym class? A marathoner? SHUT THE F*CK UP.

But it’s true. This gal ran 26.2 miles around Manhattan — and before I even turned 26-years-old.

This transformation didn’t happen overnight. And I didn’t just wake up one day and say I want to run a marathon!!!!!

If watching the Boston Marathon today gives you the weepies and makes you think Well hot damn! Maybe I should run a marathon, this post is for you.

so you wanna run a marathon

First things first ● If you wanna run a marathon, you can run a marathon.

Sounds crazy, but stick with me.

A marathon is about mental strength more than anything. Yes you have to train and prepare and get your body ready. But even more important is getting your head in the game.

I’m no superwoman when it comes to fitness. Sure, I’m stronger than the average bear. But nothing to brag about.

I wanted to run a marathon, so I ran a marathon. It’s that simple. And if running a marathon is a bucket list item of yours, it’s achievable.

 

▶︎ Start with a 5K.

If you can’t run a mile (I sure as hell couldn’t 5 years ago!) start by training for a 5K.

I used the Couch to 5K app on my phone to help me train for my first 5K and it was perfect. The app helps you work your way up to 3.1 miles in tiny, bite-sized increments.

By the time I finished the program I was able to run for 30 minutes without stopping — something I’ve NEVER been able to do. And I confidently crushed my first 5K (<— ANCIENT race recap alert!)

It sounds silly now, considering I’ve run ALL the miles, but this 5K was a HUGE deal for me at the time.

 

 

▶︎ Great, now work your way up to a half marathon.

I ran my first 5K in August, 2012. A little over a year later I ran my first half marathon. And swore I’d never ever ever run another half again during every single training run. Oops.

Training for my first half marathon was hard, arguably harder than marathon training. But I’ll never forget the moment when I hit 10 miles for the first time during my last long run of the training cycle.

For half marathon training, I used this program from Hal Higdon and did a TON of cross training.

 

▶︎ Run a few more half marathons

Yes, really. After running my first half in October 2013, I ran another half in April 2014. I took a break and came back to run a half in June 2015 which got me ready for the 2015 NYC Marathon in November.

I haven’t run a ton of half marathons considering. But after running three half marathons, I knew I could run 13.1 miles. It wasn’t some fluke.

My body also became used to pounding the pavement. Mentally, I got used to staying positive during long runs, even when I wanted to quit.

 

▶︎ Choose a marathon that excites you.

If I was going to run a marathon, it was going to be NYC. The energy during the NYC Marathon is insane. And I’m a New Yorker. The thought of running 26.2 miles around my beloved city excited me.

Choose a marathon that gets you pumped. Explore a new city. Or choose a race known for it’s loud crowds.

Not only was I excited to run 26.2 around my beloved city, I also was fundraising for a cause important to me. When I didn’t get into the NYC Marathon via lottery, I decided to fundraise with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. As the daughter of a lymphoma survivor, I was proud to support this important cause.

 

▶︎ Know your why.

During those extra shitty training runs, you’re gonna question why you ever decided to run a marathon in the first place. You can’t let your brain give up on you. And you should know why you’re doing this in the first place.

For me, bragging rights was motivation enough.

I wanted to say I ran a marathon.

During those brutal long runs, I dreamed about brunch. And a hot shower. And how good crossing the finish line would feel.

 

Want more marathon tips? Check out my post on EVERYTHING you need to know about running the NYC Marathon.

YOUR TURN: Is running a marathon on your bucket list? If you’ve run a marathon, what was your journey to 26.2 like?

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  • My big thing was completely surrounding myself with people that have done it before and that believed in me. Training for my first one was terrifying.. it took me weeks to go over the 13 mile mark into unfamiliar territory. I had a friend run my first 14 mile run with me, and then she ran with me for my first 20. I listened to their advice on fueling and hydrating, when to rotate sneakers, what to wear, what to eat the night before, how to recover and stretch, how to crosstrain… I soaked in all the info they would throw at me because they’ve all done it before and have the medal to prove it.

    Now, I get to be that friend that tells people “oh a marathon, you TOTALLY can do that, I’ve done it 7 times already..” and offer all the advice to people wanting to run a race for the first time.