Sunday, November 4, 2012

Training for a marathon you won't run.

"Few things in life match the thrill of a marathon." - Fred Lebow

As I type this I would have been jogging north on 1st Ave, choking down my third Expresso Love energy gel and high fiving my way to the Bronx at around mile 18 of my first marathon.

But a lot can happen in a week, and here in New York that is some understatement. The rightful decision was made to cancel the NY Marathon, and we can continue to focus efforts on rebuilding some pretty torn up parts of NY and NJ.

Training for the marathon has been one of the toughest challenges I've been through. You soon realize that there's no shortcuts, and that the only road to 26.2 miles is slow, disciplined and a lot of things working together - building core body strength, eating well, honing technique (landing on the front of the foot changed everything) and stretching.. lots of stretching. And when you hit mile 20 you know it's just as much mental as physical.

So I wanted to give credit to those things that helped these past 5 months. And maybe help those considering joining me to do it all again in 2013:

  • Foam Roller: When I did my IT band this cylindrical wonder saved me. Best $20 you'll spend on training.
  • Born to Run: My good mate Tim Mills put me on to this book. Fascinating, inspiring and educational tale on the Tarahumara Indians and one hell of a foot race.
  • Nike +: My training partner and data center. Inspring words from Jeremy Lin at the end of a long run can't be underrated.
  • Songza iPhone app: Their awesome music concierge provided the soundtrack to many early mornings around McCarren Park. 
  • This Week In Startups Podcast: @jason produces enough quality interviews to fill almost every hour I ran. Amazing consistency. Highlight included 2+ hours with Chris Sacca.
  • SPIbelt: Read up a lot about which belts would be useful and not too clunky for carrying gels, iPhone & a metcard. This one was perfect, barely noticed you were carrying it.
  • Gu Energy Gel - Expresso Love: In my first 20 mile run I think I almost overdosed on these things. They take a bit of getting used to. But now I take one 15 minutes before, then every 45 mins of running and gives me a well-needed energy boost.
  • Genr8 Vitargo Natural Grape 25 Servings: A glass of this with water straight after a long run helped recover well-worn muscles.
  • YouBar - Training 33: Tim Ferris' custom nutritional bars pack a lot of goodness. One of these at the start of every day. 
Great friends provided much needed support, tips and advise along the way. Christina, my trainer, worked wonders from someone who could barely do a set of pushups on day 1. And my amazing fiance Jen was always there, cooking breakfasts when I returned in the morning and putting up with a sober-October and early mornings.

So that's it for my 2012 marathon tilt. No matter how you prepare for things, some outcomes, like the events of this week across NY & NJ, are just plain awful. And you can't control them. But the process of training for a marathon reminded me that achieving tough personal goals requires a whole lot of discipline, hard work, dedication and support from the people around you.