#1 Start Slow – Finish Fast.
Something I tell myself at the start of every race… I am still striving to master this skill and that is why it sits at the top of my list. The marathon in which I fully execute this principle will likely be followed by a celebration of epic proportions.
Spoiler Alert: If you’re spectating along a marathon route and see me drinking a Coke and chatting with my family, you may safely assume “start slow – finish fast” will have to wait for another day.
#2 Enjoy Yourself!
This is your moment! The final 26.2 miles of your training cycle! Your goal race! Don’t forget to enjoy it.
My last four marathons I’ve taken time to enjoy specific moments at the starting line. Taking time to look around the crowd, even making small talk with others. Enjoying the cityscape of an urban marathon or the outdoor setting of others. Taking a few moments to soak it all in. I’m here. I made it!
I’ve learned that I enjoy being mindful of the many experiences that build memories about a given event. If a have a great race, that’s awesome. But whatever happens with the race has become separate from my overall enjoyment of the event itself.
Within the starting mile of the Big Sur Marathon, I ran past Jeff Galloway and his group on a walk interval. I was running like someone shot me out of a cannon and here was Mr. Galloway’s group looking comfortable, confident and focused on their run/walk intervals. In contrast, I was anxious, running too fast, and not mindful of the situation around me. I figured one of us was executing the start of this marathon wrong, and it probably wasn’t Jeff Galloway…
I took a moment to center myself and suddenly realized how amazing the smell of the forest was while we were running. I thought to myself that I may never run Big Sur again so it was time to start making memories and not just run a race. I spent the next 4 miles trying to store memories of the sounds and scent of that redwood forest. No one was talking, just running. All you could hear in that stretch was the footfalls of the runners and inhale the breath of that forest as your own. Amazing.
Marathon Tip: If are a 4-4:30 marathoner and you pass Jeff Galloway at any point along a marathon course, reassess your strategy immediately ;).
#3 Getting To The Starting Line Is One Goal Met.
I’m 45 years old. I commute 2+ hours a day to a full time job. I have two school-age kids to keep up with. I have family and friends. Getting to the start line of a marathon is sometimes goal enough.
I believe toeing the starting line is one goal met. It is an accomplishment that should not be overlooked. Getting to the starting line may mean you were chosen out of a lottery, ran a Boston qualifying time, or fulfilled the obligation of charity fundraising just to get a race bib. Getting to the starting line means you completed a difficult training program. Getting to the starting line means you made it through training uninjured, or at least not injured enough to have to pull out of the race. You made it. Take a moment and be proud of yourself for that.
When I ran the NYC marathon in 2015 I struck up a conversation at the start line with another female runner who was about my same age. Her last marathon was 10 years prior. She had 4 kids and hadn’t felt she trained and prepared as much as she should have. She was doubting herself. We continued to make small talk while walking up to the Verrazano bridge. Right before we crossed the starting line I reminded her, “You made it to the starting line of the New York Marathon today… not everyone can say that… whatever it took for you to get here today is enough to be proud of…”.