HOW TO Run A Marathon

Dad and me, pre-race, Marine Corps Marathon 2008

The question I’m most asked about running is “How far is this marathon?” (Yes, they are all 26.2 miles.) The second most common question is “How do you run a whole marathon?”

There isn’t really a secret to it. Find a good pair of shoes. Start running. Or run/walking. Or walking. My motto is simply “Keep moving forward.” Then tomorrow, do it again. Only further. And the day after that, get out there again. Start reading books on running, subscribe to Runners World, buy moisture wicking t-shirts, over-priced running tights, energy gels (current favorite!). Stay in on Friday nights to get enough rest for your Saturday morning run. Lose a toenail. Get plantar fasciitis, shin splints, a sore IT band. Rest and ice as instructed. Get antsy because you want to be running. Marvel at how much you actually WANT to run. Heal. Go for a run. Ice again. Sign up for a local race. Find out that races come with FREE t-shirts. Sign up for another race. Longer. Further away. Start googling “how to train for a marathon.” Decide it doesn’t look that hard. Download a “Beginners Marathon Training Plan.” 18 weeks later stand at a start line, asking yourself why you would have ever thought this “wasn’t that hard.” Mile 5, enjoy the views, the energy, the crowds. Mile 10, try to eat a Gu and drink out of paper cup without stopping. Mile 15, ask yourself what on earth you think you are doing. Mile 18, decide this is the worst idea you have ever had. Mile 20, drink more water. Wish you could sit down to drink this water. Mile 25, hallucinate about brunch, see mirages of bacon. Finish line, cry. Because you’re happy. Because you’re tired. Because you weren’t sure you were going to make it. Eat a banana. Start planning for next year. Longer runs. More of them. More strength-training. More cross-training. Maybe lose a few pounds. Anything to get this done and over with faster next year. Because there will be a next year. Because you’re a runner, now. The only thing to do is improve.
And to help you get started, here’s a selection of Inspiring YouTube Videos!


Katie Ford is the Assistant Marketing Manager and a runner, although not a very fast one. She is running the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday with her dad, their third consecutive MCM.

4 Comments On This Post:

October 29, 2010
11:03 am
Cousin Ken says...

Good luck this weekend, Katie! I ran my first marathon on October 3rd! It was great, but if you see my profile picture, I have a patch over my IT band — it was frustrating because it started hurting during those “easy” tapering runs. I guess that’s my age. Got the foam roller, have an acupuncturist and need to start the PT again. I wouldn’t trade my marathon experience for anything, though. Crossing the finish line was amazing, even if it was way past my potential.

Again, good luck…especially for your dad…:)

October 29, 2010
11:19 am
John says...

You have captured the runner’s curse & thirst beautifully. I started the year running the Miami Half thinking, “oh, that will be it – I don’t have any interest in doing a full.” Well, I’m now into Week 13 of training to run the Palm Beach full. It’s an addiction, accomplishment, and ever-dangling carrot that forever keeps one foot falling in front of the other. Once you do it, you must then do it faster and further and … the race continues. Best wishes to you for crossing the finish line, and all those that follow.

October 29, 2010
12:44 pm
Kat says...

I adore your writing Ms. Ford! Good luck this weekend! I’m so proud of you. I can hear you explaining this while reading it! Hope you are well and would love to catch up soon!

November 1, 2010
10:43 am
Scott Ford says...

Four years ago you suggested we should try a marathon. I thought the concept was nice, but never imagined we would go through with it. Now, after three successful runs with the Marines, it just feels like something we do in October. How very special. Thank you, and congratulations,


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