Many years ago I wrote an article based on the premise that you don’t have to be superhuman to run a marathon. My theory was that a reasonably well-conditioned athlete could complete a marathon with a modest amount of additional training. I tested the theory at the Northern Central Trail Marathon in 2008. The experiment was a success, in other words I survive; but it was the hardest, most punishing marathon I’d ever run. More importantly, I was introduced to a new demographic of runner—the back of the pack gang. The full article is at Untrained Marathon.
In the waning miles of the Northern Central Marathon I was among a different breed of runners than I had grown accustom to throughout my running life. They weren’t the stereotypical lean marathoners checking their watches for a split every thirty seconds; rather they were committed, courageous recreational athletes and weekend warriors who trained hard enough to earn the right to cross the same finish line as their competitive counterparts. They demonstrated the will to push through physical exhaustion and not let the final miles defeat them. There was an innocent pureness to their spirit. In past marathons I would have crossed the finish line and not given a thought to those who finished behind me, but I found a genuine respect for my new pace group. I began encouraging those around me and was as inspired when I crossed the finish line as I had been when I completed the Boston Marathon.
After a four-year absence from the marathon circuit because of knee surgeries and nagging arthritis, I will run my thirteenth marathon in November. I’ll train for sure, but I won’t follow a regimented training program as I once did. I’ve done it both ways, and these days I’m grateful to simply finish. If you are considering running a marathon this year, but are intimidated by the onslaught of technical advice or the daunting regiment of a marathon training program, check Rite2Run for common sense advice on how to get to the end of a marathon without killing yourself before the starting gun sounds. Beginning in August I will share useful advice on conditioning, mental preparation and enjoying the experience. After all, that’s what it all about for the majority of runners, having fun and finishing the marathon without stressing yourself out.