Training to Run a Marathon

Last year I aimed for running half marathon and I accomplished that goal towards the end of July the same year. Then I had the desire to run 28 km. Before the year was out, I ran that distance, too.

This year, after profiling in this blog Ram Viswanathan who has half a century of marathon runs behind him, the dream was born – to  run a full marathon.

Ram advised that running with pain is not a good idea. So, I spent more than a month taking physio therapy treatment.  The pain on my knee, ankle and heel area persisted, so I took rest for another month. The pain still lingered, so I decided to ignore it and keep running.

Like Peter O’Toole says in the film Lawrence of Arabia – the trick is not to mind that it hurts. This is true particularly about training for a marathon. If I paid attention to all those nagging pains, they would be my companions, as big as I make them out to be.

From the beginning of July this year, I have been training for running a marathon. The Wipro Marathon in Chennai on December 17 this year was my goal. I registered for this run in mid August.

On the same day, I also registered for the Bengaluru Marathon scheduled on October 19. The idea was to use this event as a training ground. Two weeks later, I got this T-shirt, courtesy Amazon, I think.

Bengaluru marathon

A friend and experienced marathoner has advised me not to attempt the full marathon in Bengaluru, but only run 21 km to get a feel of the event. His opinion after seeing my running statistics is that I am doing things perfectly – to peak for the Wipro Marathon in December. He warned me that the Bengaluru run is going to mess up things for me.

On the one hand, I know it is foolish to go against sane advice from years of experience from a friend, but on the other, the urge to run a full marathon in Bengaluru against the odds, is taking firm roots in me.

How I think now is – I have the resources to step across the finishing line. Even if I do not, I have another battle awaiting me in December. Paulo Coelho’s words about defeat and failure now streams into my consciousness:

Defeat ends when we launch into another battle. Failure has no end; it is a lifetime choice.

Coming to the practice for the marathon, I am pretty much focused these days. I have downloaded Nike’s App into my mobile and based on the number of days left, the App has created a coaching programme that suggests how many miles I should run every day, at what pace. At intervals of every mile, I am prompted about the distance covered, my pace for the previous mile and the average pace.

My pace is slow. Nowadays, it has increased slightly, but not enough to give me a decent marathon timing. I have to work at it. I intend to run along with other runners practicing for the same event from now onwards.

The Nike App has programmed for me, nearly 5 runs  every week – starting from 5 miles. One run on the weekend is really long. Last Saturday, I ran only 16 miles against the suggested 18. I convinced myself at 16 miles that it was getting warm and late for office. So, I covered the remaining 2 miles seated in an auto.

This Saturday, the target I have been given by Nike App is 20 miles. I will complete the distance starting around 5 am. When I accomplish this on Saturday, the total distance covered during this week would be more than 44 miles or 70 km.

I am now careful about how much and what I eat. I will take more vegetarian food for some time. And avoid drinks because of their dehydrating effect. The training is ushering in changes in other areas as well.

As I am writing, there is a mild sensation of pain on my right knee, as if to remind me I am powerless against certain forces. I will cajole my knees and ankles into co-operation with ice packs. Though the training has been very hard, I have not yet strained beyond the threshold of my endurance. I reckon that phase will come to test me during the next two weeks and beyond, culminating in the final run on October 19.

The last time I took part in a marathon was about 12 years ago in Chennai. 35 km into the race, I gave up the cause as lost. I ran then with my running mates – more to join them in the effort than to really complete the race. 12 years later, I am running for myself and am preparing myself better physically and mentally to meet the challenge.

I realize I am putting unnecessary pressure on myself by openly announcing my goal to run a marathon. There is this fear of failing in front of my friends and well wishers.

At such times when I am plagued by doubts and fear, I will remember:

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

-Paulo Coehlo

There is a lot more in me than I have so far persuaded myself to believe. I am going after that more.

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