How to Run a Marathon With (Almost) No Training

See the end of the post for the video of my marathon experience. Or just click on the link. I’ve also gotta give a BIG thank you to Poul Stefansen, because without him initially signing up I never would have done it. It also was great know I wasn’t the only one going through hell!

Of all the things on my bucket list, there were two that I felt were going to be close to impossible:

  • Fly in a Virgin Galactic Space Flight (most likely actually impossible)
  • Run a Marathon (apparently not impossible)

On New Years Day this year, I foolishly signed up for the Eugene Marathon, thinking I’d be able to stick to a rigorous training schedule and actually finish a marathon.

I’ve written in the past about how I’m great at starting things, but awful at finishing them.  This was going to be my chance to change all of that.

Training lasted for about 2 weeks before minor injuries and travel got in the way and I just never got back into it.  I think I did one 8 mile run (the longest of my life) before bailing.

The date of May 1st (marathon day) was always looming out there, but I didn’t think much about it.  Every once in awhile I’d go for a 3 mile run, but certainly wasn’t doing any kind of training.

I finally decided a few weeks before that I’d give it a shot (after all, I’d already paid for it), except I was just going to walk it.  I even changed my bucket list last week from “Run a Marathon” to “Finish a Marathon” – finishing was good enough for me, and was still something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do. Sean Ogle running the Eugene Marathon

So this past Sunday I woke up at 5am to head over to Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon and prepared for what was surely going to be the most spectacular failure of my life.  I honestly had no idea what to expect.  I figured I’d get to around the 15 mile mark and my legs would totally give out.  I’d never walked that far before.

At 7am as I was preparing to cross the starting line, something odd happened: my ego kicked in.

For some reason I couldn’t allow myself to start walking when thousands of people around me were running.

“Ok, I’ll just jog the first mile.  I’ll back it off from there.”

4 Miles in I was still jogging.  I finally convinced myself to stop and walk for a bit, because I knew I’d never finish if I ran for more than 5 miles or so. My legs would get too sore, my shin splints would come back, blah blah blah – excuses.

Save for a period of 6 or 7 miles, I ran the entire freaking thing.

I finished a marathon.

I’m going to make a note right now that to many of you this post may sound really overly dramatic.  People run marathons all the time, and most do it much faster than I did (I was second to last in my division haha).  That said, this is easily one of the 5 biggest personal accomplishments of my life, and one thing that while I always wanted to be able to do, I truly never thought would happen.

The Best Part of it All

Here’s the coolest part about the whole thing though. When I first started training my goal was to run it in under 5 and a half hours.  Not a fast time by any means, but one I would be extremely happy with if I could accomplish it.

At the halfway point I figured out that I was almost on pace to run 5:45 .  It didn’t matter, I knew the second half was certainly going to take me at least an hour longer than the first 13.1 miles.  Hopefully I’d at least be able to finish in 7 hours.

At the 20 mile mark, I’d actually gotten faster.

And for the last 6 miles, I ran hard for the entire thing, save for a couple stretch breaks.

I kept waiting for the cramps, for the point where reality would set in and I physically wouldn’t be able to go anymore.  It had to happen right? After all I didn’t do any training for this.

When I crossed the finish line the clock read 5:34.10.

SO close, but at this point my goal was just to finish in the 7 hour time allotted, and I killed that. So I was beyond stoked.

What I forgot to take into account is that I didn’t cross the starting line until a few minutes after the clock started. About 5 to be exact.

Official time: 5:29.05

As I mentioned, In January I’d set a goal of running under 5:30, after training.

Even with the lack of preparation, I still beat my initial goal. I can’t put into words the emotions that were going through my head upon entering Hayward Field for the final 200 meters.  I was short of breath for the first time in the whole race.  I think it was because I was on the verge of tears, and still running.

Throughout the whole I race I imagined what it would be like to actually get there.  After all, this is one of the most storied track and field stadiums in the world, and the birthplace of Nike.

At mile 9 we passed Hayward and I couldn’t figure out how there was a huge stream of people running in there already.

Oh, the half marathon.

I watched them, and could only pray I’d be able to get there hours later.  At mile 12, 18 and 23 I again got emotional thinking about it.

It was mile 15  I actually started to believe I may have a shot at this thing.  Man, it’s over and thinking about it still effects me.

I achieved one of the few things in my life that I honestly thought I wasn’t physically capable of.

Eugene Marathon

Mile 20

Its experiences like this that make you realize you can do anything you set your mind to.  I can’t chalk finishing up to training, being a natural runner or anything like that.  It was all mental.

I’d already had two blog post titles prepared, this one, and one that read: The Biggest Failure of My Life.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to not have to write that second one.

How to Run a Marathon with No Training

Obviously this probably isn’t something you should strive for.  After all it wasn’t until 3 seconds before crossing the start line that I decided to try and run.

Bottom line, adrenaline is going to get you started and the rest is all mental.

The first 3 or 4 miles felt great.  Everyone was in a good mood, strangers were holding up signs saying things like “You’re doing incredible, complete stranger”.  Strangely enough, it was actually motivating. Every few hundred yards people would cheer for you by name.  Sorority girls held up signs that said “We have tequila shots at the finish line.”  The point is that it was a really cool atmosphere.

It also helps that Sunday was the most beautiful day we’ve had all year in Oregon – I even got sun burnt.

The biggest realization I had during the whole process, and the one that led me across the finish line, was that it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. It might have been my ego that got me started running in the first place, but the only thing that carried me from mile 4 to 26 was doing my own thing.  Running when I felt like it, and walking when I had to.

It’s kind of like life. Everyone is going to have their own goals and are going to be going down their own path.  The only way to be successful is to figure out what works for you and pursue that vigorously.

By mile 15 it surprisingly was much less painful to run than it was to walk.

I found that keeping my mind occupied was also really important to success.  I realized the reason I didn’t make it through training wasn’t because I couldn’t, but rather I just got too bored in the longer runs.  So I made excuses for not doing it.

At mile 11 I had the opportunity to turn right for the full marathon or left for the half.  I was in a giant pack and I was the ONLY one who went right.  Talk about a wake up call.  The next 5 miles I was pretty much completely on my own, I had to pee like none other, and it was about mile 10 the pain started to kick in.

There were a few thoughts that kept me going through the hardest parts:

  • Getting to know what it would be like to cross the finish line.
  • If I didn’t finish, I wouldn’t be able to cross it off the list, and I’d have to go through the whole thing again at some point.
  • The constant realization that I was doing something that I truly thought was impossible.

Those were the three things that mentally kept me putting one foot in front of another.  I also had a great playlist, got a lot of support from friends and family along the way, and really didn’t want to write a blog post about being a failure.

The Whole Point

Some of you might be thinking: “Ok great, good for you, you ran a marathon, I don’t care.”  And that’s fine.

That said, you can’t deny there’s a lot to be learned from a story like this.  In just about anything you want to do in life, the only thing that is stopping you is yourself.  You can make all the excuses you want about circumstances or what have you, but the bottom line is that it all comes down to you.  If you want something bad enough, go freaking get it.

It may be hard. You will go through pain to get there.  You will have to do stuff that you may not necessarily want to. But if you’re serious about finishing, you can and you will.

This is monumental for me, and now more than ever I believe that anything is possible.

There was a girl running in front of me in the beginning of the race.  The back of her shirt read the following:

“Life’s battles don’t always go to the strongest or fastest man, But sooner or later the man who wins is the fellow who thinks he can.” ~Steve Prefontaine

So, do you think you can win?

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Dan May 3, 2011 at 8:19 am

Great post Sean and congrats! LOVED the video man we are cracking up here….

Sean May 3, 2011 at 8:36 am

@Dan haha, thanks man! Just trying to take a page out of the Dan Andrews Book of Video Editing :)

@Benny It was around mile 10 that I started to really feel it, and then by 18 it was really bad. I kept saying I’d never do another one, but to be honest if the time were right
I might consider it. It really wasn’t quite as bad as I was expecting, and although I can still barely walk, crossing that finish line was one of the best feelings ever. I was also lucky in the sense that the Eugene Marathon is one of the flattest in the country, so I didn’t have to worry about many steep overpasses!

Benny May 3, 2011 at 8:33 am

It’s funny your friend said only 5 more miles to go. 5 miles feel like forever at that point! That’s almost another hour of running. Haha.

I ran my second half marathon this past February and though I trained for it and did well on my first one, I didn’t expect that my legs would feel so tired at mile 6. I had no idea why. But man I didn’t want to quit. With each mile my legs got more and more tired. They felt like lead weights.

I didn’t want to walk though. I knew if I walked it would be so hard to want to get started again.

The worst part? At mile 12, I had to run up an overpass. It was pretty steep. But man I didn’t want to walk. I moved my legs and tried to NOT focus on how tired I felt. There were a bunch of people on the top cheering as loud as they could.

What I kept thinking too was that pain was temporary but quitting I would regret forever. That’s so true.

I finished the half marathon at 1:59 and actually improved my time from the first one. I don’t know how that was possible.

I’ve gotta try a full one day. Do you think you’ll do another one?

Poul Stefansen May 3, 2011 at 9:04 am

Fantastic post/video/achievement Sean!

I gotta say finishing my first marathon was much more emotional than I expected. I literally waged war with myself mentally and physically, and I know you experienced the same thing out there.

With all that going on, I have to thank you. I don’t know that I couldn’t of finished without you. I know we didn’t run together, but knowing there was a good friend out there, suffering, tired, exhausted, and pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles took away any excuse I had of not making it to the finish.

It’s exactly like you said in your post: Anything is possible if you have dedication, passion, and resiliency. Whether it be running a marathon, writing a book, or dropping everything and doing a “location 180″ to pursue happiness as opposed to business suits and a computer desk. There’s at least one thing Nike got right: “Just Do It” (exclamation point)

Sean May 3, 2011 at 9:13 am

@Poul Ha, if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have signed up in the first place. So I’ve gotta thank you as well! I knew that short of serious debilitating injury you’d be finishing that thing, so the feeling was mutual, I had to keep going! Thanks for the all of the support, and for giving me the balls to attempt it in the first place. Next time let’s pick a less painful activity, you know, like a Mariners game or something!

tate May 3, 2011 at 9:21 am

You did such a great job and kept such a great attitude, every time I saw you you had a huge smile on your face! (you should post the you tube video so that the knife joke makes since, and because it is so true!)

Tristan May 3, 2011 at 10:44 am

I definitely had to read this when I saw the title in my RSS reader. I ran a marathon last year without training. I signed up for it in January 2010 and the race was mid-June 2010. Pffff. Easy. Plenty of time to start running, right?

Well the months went by and I never ran and then it got to be mid-May. Crap. One month to go. I should probably start running. The problem is that I really, really don’t like running. I find it extremely boring. But I ran 8 miles just to see if I could, and found that my foot was hurting pretty bad after that. Crap again. That 8 miles turned out to be the only bit of running I did in the year prior to my marathon. No smaller training runs, nothing. I didn’t want to hurt it any more so I didn’t run again before the marathon.

The day of the marathon came and off I ran. I stuck with the pacer that was setting the pace for the women’s Boston marathon qualifying time up through the half marathon. That’s when my foot started to hurt again. Miles 16-20 sucked pretty bad, and I was hobbling along. I had to alternate my running hobble with my walking hobble. Once it hit 20 miles the end was in sight (figuratively), so it wasn’t as bad. I ended up finishing in 4:15.

I was hurting for a couple weeks after that.

Now here’s my disclaimer: I rock climbed daily (I’ve been a climber for 15 years) and climbed at least a couple mountains a week. I was in dang good shape. So my advice to someone who wants to run a marathon without actually running would be to pick a sport and attain marathon-level fitness in that. So maybe for cycling it would be 100 or 150 miles. Or for swimming it would be a few miles. For basketball maybe it would be playing for 5 hours straight.

Will the training be as good as if you specifically ran? No, probably not. But at least you can spend the time doing something you enjoy and still make it through the marathon.

Sean May 3, 2011 at 11:20 am

@Tristan Holy crap man, that’s FAST for no training. My buddy Poul did it in 4:32 with no training and he was definitely hurting. I think that’s good advice, if you’ve trained for other activities and are in good shape in general it definitely makes it easier. Apparently I’m in better shape than I thought – as I think if I hadn’t of gone as slow as I did during the first half I probably could have knocked a good 30 minutes off my time.

Chris Guillebeau May 3, 2011 at 11:30 am

Nice work Mr. Ogle!

Forthcoming post: “How to Host 500 People With (Really) No Training.”

Deborah Fike May 3, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Congrats on finishing the race! I had the same epiphany years ago when my friends and I decided to hike South Sister Mountain in Oregon. I had attempted to hike Mt. Fuji years before and utterly failed. It was great to literally tackle a mountain and feel like I could push myself to the limit like that.

Samantha May 3, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Interesting post. I especially like: “the only thing that is stopping you is yourself”.

I was just thinking the same thing because I just ran my first half marathon and never in my life thought I’d want to run 13 miles. As someone who has never been particularly athletic, it was a big accomplishment for me and I really have fallen in love with running.

But running isn’t necessarily about running for me-rather it is emotional & mental. I am always questioning how I might push myself and what I can do next. This has transferred into other areas of my life because I question what other mental barriers I have created for myself in the non-physical components of my life. I recently resigned from my job to pursue other goals. I really think I got the confidence to move on from realizing what I am capable of through running.

Lou Mindar May 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Congratulations, Sean!

One of my favorite sayings is, “Run your own race. It’s the only one you can win.” Good work my friend. You won your race!

Sean May 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm

@Chris That’s going to be a fun post to write :) Thanks for all of the support!

@Deborah Hiking the South Sister was one of the first real big physical/mental accomplishments I’ve had. So cool to hear that you made it.

@Samantha Personally I don’t enjoy the running part of running, I enjoy the effects afterwards. I always feel like I accomplished someting, and that was multiplied to the nth degree with the marathon. My biggest problem is I get bored while I’m doing it, so I don’t have the patience to keep it up on a regular basis. We’ll see if that changes after this though.

@Lou Great quote, and so true! Feels good to know I won, especially after all of the doubt I had beforehand.

Deborah Fike May 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm

@Sean: I hiked South Sister in July 2009, just a few months before you! I can’t imagine how cold it must have been in September.

Marina Reede May 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm

wow! congrats! it was fun reading about your process. that makes me want to sign up for a half marathon and actually train for it (i am sooo overweight right now)…like you said if you really want something go for it! i walked the cozumel marathon in 2000. hilarious, it took me 8:28 but not bad. it’s those things we’ve done that we so proud of that keep us moving through the hard times in our lives too. fabulous job!

Rasheed Hooda May 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Wow!

Congratulations my man.

You are absolutely right about it being all mental. I am getting myself in shape for my upcoming road trip starting in August of this year. I’ll keep you posted. Lots of fun things to do, like climbing to the highest point in every state, which means I’ll have to eventually conquer Mt. McKinley. Which would be a great training for my ultimate goal of summiting Mt Everest.

Thanks for the post, you are an inspiration.

Rasheed

Conor Neill May 4, 2011 at 12:29 am

Congratulations. Great achievement.

There is a story that Ranulph Fiennes, the oldest man to climb Everest, failed the first 8 times he tried. His wife is a horse trainer. Just before his last trip, his wife said to him “do it like a horse runs”. He said “what does that mean?” She said “a horse doesn’t think about the finish, he just runs while he still can. Just ask yourself if you can take one more step, if the answer is yes, take another step…. do it step by step”. Ranulph didn’t spend any time staring at the summit, thinking about what was left… he focused on one footstep at a time. He successfully scaled Everest at 71 years old.

Well done.

Gerhard May 4, 2011 at 1:44 am

That blog post was great, but the video… legendary! Thanks for the inspiration man!

For me running a marathon is like one of those impossible things I really can’t see myself doing. That’s why I put it on my to-do list. But running a marathon without proper training? I’ve never heard of this! You rule.

Ute May 4, 2011 at 4:22 am

Thanks so much for sharing this. Even if you hadn’t finished you would have been a winner for me. How many people would have written that they couldn’t have trained because of injuries, lack of time, etc. You just told the truth…

Will you shave off your beard – at least here in Germany soccer player do this when they reached a big goal (like championship).

And last but not least: One comment our soccer player gave us:
If you don’t try you have already lost, if you try you can lose but that’s okay. (Hope my English is not that bad).

Tee May 4, 2011 at 5:16 am

In my opinion, a real achievement would to actually do the training! It requires months of commitment and mental focus.

John Bardos May 4, 2011 at 9:21 am

Congratulations Sean!

I finished a marathon with very little training once also. It was rough but I finished. The best part is that now I am no longer afraid of running that far.

I think our fears are always much worse than reality. After completing that marathon and knowing that I can do it with very little training, all the marathons I have finished afterwards have been much easier.

The running part is still difficult :-) , but the fears I imagine before the race are all completely gone. I guess it is like than when we challenge ourselves in all areas of our lives.

Joel May 4, 2011 at 11:18 am

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Makes me pumped for what’s ahead. Still scared out my mind :) Nice job on knocking this off the list Sean!

Danny Dover May 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Wow! Your mental stamina is inspiring. I am really happy to see that you were able to make this happen. Great work Sean!

Martin May 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Great video Sean! You’ve just inspired me to start a bucket list!

ashley May 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Actually, I agree with Tee. You’re patting yourself on the back for NOT accomplishing a goal.

I see where you’re going with this rousing inspirational story, but the reality is that you didn’t stick to a training schedule and ended up walking for a good deal of a marathon, which is supposed to be a race.

Also, you’re a young, fit guy and you couldn’t even run half of it.

Yes I have run marathons and I’m former military. So I’m not just a couch potato talking sh*t.

Sean May 4, 2011 at 10:07 pm

@Tee and Ashley Yeah, I totally agree I think that over the longer term doing the training is even more of an accomplishment than the run itself. But for me personally the mental goals I had to get past to do the marathon were a really big accomplishment. And Ashley just so that we are clear I ran all buy 6 miles, so more than 75% of it. With no training, thats something I’m pretty proud of. Appreciate your thoughts though as you guys bring up a good point, I certainly could have done something more impressive by finishing the training.

@Martin Nice man! I really think it will have a big impact on your life.

@Danny Appreciate the thoughts, I kind of surprised myself with the stamina as well – although as pointed out by few others it would have been more had I trained..well in some ways at least.

@Joel You are going to KILL it – and certainly beat the crap out of my time!

@John I could totally see how that works. I was so afraid in the beginning of not finishing that I definitely didn’t go as hard as I probably could have. We’ll see if there’s a next time for me.

@Ute The beard was gone the next day :)

@Gerhard Glad you enjoyed the video! It was certainly more fun to edit than it was to star in it haha

@Conor GREAT story, I’d never heard that one

@Rasheed NICE are you going to be writing about the quest? Sounds really intriguing.

@Marina Finishing is finishing regardless of your time – well done :)

jaxbee May 5, 2011 at 1:17 am

Absolutely loved that post – funny but also motivating. As a running addictee three things sprung to mind:
1. you have natural fitness (!)
2. slow and steady wins the game
3. just imagine what you COULD do if you trained!!!
I really think you should have a go at TRAINING and then running a marathon. If you start off slowly you might find that you actually enjoy the challenge of sticking to a schedule and it sounds like that would really be an achievement if you’re not a ‘completer/ finisher’. Go on, I dare you! That said, I am rubbish at sticking to a schedule as I often don’t want to do the kind of running they want me to do and so make it up as I go along BUT I run as often as the schedule says, that much is true. Keep us posted if you do! Great blog, thank you.

Melissa / Peace & Projects May 5, 2011 at 7:12 am

Awesome, Sean! The message here is beautiful. It’s just what I needed to hear today. I’m in the process of writing a novel (isn’t EVERYONE doing that??) and there are times the whole process seems impossible – editing it, pitching it to an agent, getting a book deal.
This post reminded me to take it one mile at a time. Also, run! Don’t walk. Give it all you’ve got.
Thanks for the inspiration,
Melissa

Janet May 5, 2011 at 9:39 am

truly inspiring and great job!! the most i’ve ever ran at one time is also 8 miles.. but that was a long time ago and i’m really out of shape for running. i need to figure out km/mph converter because the treadmills i use here are all european/rest of the world standards.. would love to get back in running shape and yes, running a marathon is on my bucket list of “impossible” goals.

Matt May 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Awesome Sean! Congrats on this accomplishment. Very encouraging and inspiring post. I’m going to print out “The Whole Point” section which I found to be very motivational. Congrats man!

Pepyn Swagemakers May 7, 2011 at 7:41 am

Thank you for this post. I am two weeks away from running my first half marathon, as a step up to the first full one, and I had kinda given up all hope because my travels and little injuries had totally messed up the training scheme. Reading this is extremely motivating, and finally I have faith in being able to finish the run again. Thanks heaps & congrats on your time!

Anthony May 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Well in Sean!! I know you suffered shin splints, which are a complete bitch.

Darlene May 9, 2011 at 11:02 am

Way to go Sean! I had marathon on my list for a while too and have recently taken it off. Lost it’s importance to me. I was running for a while and actually liked it. Gave me time to listen to audios and was sort of meditative in a way.

Longest I ran was a 10km (about 1/4 marathon) so I have a ways to go. But I set a goal for that one and met it so I was happy. Not bad for a girl over 40 that for most of her life never did ANY exercise, then at 39 started moving, hey?!

Darlene May 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

BTW I did the 10km in 60 minutes which was my goal. Like you I crossed and it was almost 70 minutes and I was at first disappointed. Then I found out we actually ran 11km so after that math was done I still made my goal. I followed the 60 minute pace bunny and actually passed him so I was mad he didn’t do a proper pace, LOL.

I think 5.5 hrs for a marathon is a great time, I’d be happy with that!

Meg May 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Thanks for the re-motivation. I am signed up to run a 1/2 marathon June 5th. I have not ran in months and I actually don’t really like running. The longest distance I have ran without stopping was 8 miles and that was a year ago. I am really getting down on myself and saying I am just not going to show up but this article has made me rethink that the decision. I guess I have 3 weeks to step it up. My new goal: to go and to finish.

Michel May 10, 2011 at 11:16 am

You had a goal and you finished that is important. I also understand that not everyone can do what you did. Dealing with injuries I finished Chicago last year in 8:29, dead last for females officially. I started that day and no matter what I was going to finish. I just had a great race this weekend. A half marathon that a month ago I was very doubtful I could finish but I shaved 22 minutes off my last HM time from last year. I was more emotional about that than Chicago. Marathons and such are very time consuming with training and such but I completely agree it’s more mental than anything anyone will tell you. You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t you’ll never get past the starting line.

Jeremy Orr May 12, 2011 at 7:30 am

Sean,
great post. As someone who is about to run his first half marathon, I am going through much of what you experienced: injury and personal schedules have taken me out of my training routine. I am really not looking forward to it. But after reading your post, I think I need to start looking at it differently. This will be a good experience if I have realistic expectations and a good attitude. Thanks for the pep talk!

Sean May 12, 2011 at 8:57 am

@Jeremy For me I honestly think my one eight mile training run was as bad as the actual race. The adrenaline and atmosphere that hits you on race day makes it a lot easier to get through it. Good luck!

Ed Ettinghausen May 12, 2011 at 10:06 am

Sean, amazing! Absolutely loved your post & video! I think your positive mental attitude throughout the whole experience was what really got you through it, and was so much more important than physical training ever would be. And how appropriate – on so many levels – to use a quote from PRE and an Eminem rap song. Very cool. Someone once said that showing up is 90% of a marathon, and I believe you proved that to be true. It’s people like you that remind me what the marathon experience is supposed to be – run/walk/crawl your own race, don’t take yourself too seriously, have fun (I know it’s hard for some people to believe that you can actually have fun in a marathon, but I’m here to tell you, with the right attitude, you can), and do whatever it takes to cross that finish line!

It’s been a long time since my first marathon, so I love to be able to relive the experience, and “see” the marathon through someone else’s eyes. It’s stories like yours that continue to inspire me, each time I toe the line for another marathon. I’m sure your story will come to mind many times, in my upcoming races.

Regarding training. I won’t go so far as to say that it is over-rated, because it certainly will determine how well the body & mind is prepared for, and subsequently how well you will finish a marathon. And I would never recommend that anyone follow your “training” program, since for most people that would be a certain recipe for disaster. But I love the fact that you went out and did it anyway, even though all the “experts” would have told you it can’t be done. Way to believe in yourself, and just try! And when you say that it was your mind that got you through it – that is by far the most important aspect of finishing any difficult marathon or ultra-marathon event. I have been a part of so many ultras were the body was shot – even with the proper training – and the mind and heart carried a runner through to the finish line. On the other hand, I’ve witnessed a number of ultras where people DNF’ed (Did Not Finish) the race when they physically could have, but they were defeated by negative thinking. Negative thinking is the number one enemy to any marathoner or ultra-runner, bar none!

What I also really liked about your posting . . . you’re thinking about doing it again. Atta boy! It won’t be as sweet as the first one, on certain levels, but each marathon has it’s own rewards, each and every time. Go for it!

(My story: I did my first five marathons at 17/18 years old, and then had a 28 year hiatus. Two years ago I started marathoning again, at age 46, and have since then done over 170 marathons/ultras. I’ve done every ultra distance including many 100 milers, and 24, 48, and 72 hours races. And I’ve won at each of those distances, except for the 72-hour, which I took 2nd place with 238.6 miles. I run 2-4 marathon races every weekend, recently breaking the Guinness World Record for most marathon races in 365 days – the previous record was 106, I’m at 126. Just telling you this so you know there’s a “little” experience behind my response. One last thing – a dirty little secret you might appreciate, Sean. You now what my training mileage is during the week? . . . ZERO!)

mark May 31, 2011 at 6:46 pm

well done Sean i myself have run 8 marathons and on Monday june 6th i do number 9-they are not easy in any way shape or form but when u hit mile 20 u really need to be there mentally as thats when ur mind takes over from the legs-u know u cant stop and quit at that satge u have to finish it-very inspiring tale and I hope u go on and do a few more-finishing gives u an immense satisfaction never quit as it will stay with u a lifetime.

Momekh July 7, 2011 at 9:54 am

I wonder if I can do that with a triathlon ? :/ :P

But I am slowly discovering your blog. Loving it so far.

Sam Raphael Chadwick July 8, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Hey Sean,

Just read this article, thought it was great….

I actually ran the Silverstone Half Marathon here in the UK last Feburary after doing 4 training runs to prepare myself those 4 runs consisted of 1mile, 1 mile, 2 miles, 3 miles and 6 miles…. spread across 3 weeks… I finished in about 2 1/2 hours….

I think I will try a Full Marathon next time. :)

Congrats on the finish.

Sam

A. Wannabe Travelwriter August 4, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Wow. When I Googled “How to run a marathon with little training,” little did I expect to find such a great “reference.” You are my new running hero!

I turn 60 this month and also have that damn bucket list hanging over my head, albeit self-imposed. While I did a half marathon for my 50th, I am currently only jogging 3 to 4 miles, a couple of times a week . I am planning on the Biz Johnson which is on an abandoned rail line and on packed dirt, out in the woods in northeast California.

My plan was to walk much of it, and figured my original goal of 5 1/2 hours should be closer to 7. Sound familiar?

My old running buddies used to say I have more stamina than brains. Or maybe I said it.

I was about to give this up as a stupid idea, but now…

Did you have any lasting health issues? In your great video I heard a nasty little cough.

Sean August 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

Glad you found the post useful!

Aside from being sore for a good two weeks, there were no lasting issues. I had a bit of a cough before I even started, so I think that was just carry over :)

Let me know how it goes when you go through with it!

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