When I crossed the finish line at the San Francisco Marathon in 2012, my first thought was “never again.” However, after I could walk again (beginning on Wednesday after the marathon), I wanted the structured training regimen, the opportunity for self-improvement, and the glory of crossing the finish line. It didn’t hurt that the registration fee was severely discounted the month after the marathon and that Jesse wanted to run the marathon in his city (and break four hours).
Training for a road marathon in tough on your body. Pounding your body on pavement for 30 or 40 or 50 miles a week is not exactly gentle. When I’d run eight miles before work, I’d wake up at 4:45am, carve out eight miles, put in an eight-hour day at the office, and then come home and foam roll and stretch for at least an hour. The whole day was concentrated around training for marathon, whether it be questioning my fueling choices, feeling guilty for skipping a workout or neglecting to stretch at night, or wondering if I can get away with seven hours of sleep after a 19-mile run.
Working out, and particularly running, has made me more sensitive to just about everything. When I’m hungry (which is often), watch out. I will get cranky and then silent, sweaty, and hypoglycemic. It’s not pretty. If I go out for happy hour, the two beers I’ll drink (which likely have 7%+ ABV – I like heavy beers) will cause my blood sugar to crash and destroy my sleep cycle, making me fatigued the next day. It’s like every simple decision I make has a much wider scope of influence due to the number of calories I’m exerting per day.
I’ve always been big on sleeping – nine hours is my sweet spot. But if I want to have a life, going to bed before 9:00pm is unreasonable. If I’m up at 4:45 to run, that’s fewer than eight hours of sleep, and my body needs more to properly recover.
Ultimately, running a marathon is “worth the hurt,” to coin a phrase from the SF Marathon. I’m not one to half ass anything, and I like the mental and physical challenge of training for and running a marathon. I love starting the day watching the sun rise while most people are still sleeping, checking off workouts on a training plan, and the adrenaline rush crossing the finish line.
I plan on running my next road marathon in Berlin in 2015. It’s flat, fast, and happens to coincide with Oktoberfest and Jesse’s 30th birthday. Until then, I’ll stick with the trail, half marathons, and the occasional triathlon, but I know the glory of a road marathon will be waiting for me when I’m ready.