So You Want To Be a Marathoner?

Training for a marathon requires sacrifice. What, did you just fall out of your chair in surprise? I know, I know, that’s about as obvious as saying that Popeye requires spinach, but let me offer a little perspective. In her memoir Bossypants, Tina Fey explains what it’s like to turn 40: “I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn’t used to have to do that. Now I do.” The other night, my friend Jenna texted me before 9 p.m. to ask if I’d like to come over to watch Parks and Recreation and I didn’t get the message because I was in bed. Asleep. Top this 29-year-oldwhippersnapper, Tina!

I thought that by waking up before dawn every day to run, I’d have evenings free to make plans with friends, be involved in community projects, maintain other hobbies, kick butt, and take names. Instead, here’s what generally happens: I get home at 5:30, take off my pants, eat a bowl of cereal and some salad because I don’t feel like cooking, and I’m curled up in bed with a book or a movie by 9. Incidentally, 9 happens to be when my boyfriend likes to eat dinner and when many live shows in Montpelier get started. Sometimes, as I’m being lulled to sleep by the sound of music and shouts from carousers on the street below me, I try to remember what night-time looks like.

Even if you’re cooler than me and require less than a solid eight hours of sleep, I guarantee that you’ll have to make tough choices if you train to run a marathon. But the good news is that although I’ve taken training seriously and pushed myself over the past four months, I’m not a running robot—yet. Here’s my advice for how to run 50 to 60 miles per week and still function in society:

1. Party early while you’ve still got energy. Like, really early. In addition to breakfast foods being a great source of runner-friendly protein and carbohydrates, the Mimosa and the Bloody Mary were practically invented for consumption before noon. “It’s 10 a.m. somewhere” is my new mantra.

2. Shower, comb your hair, and put on clean clothes when you are done working out. Trust me. Do you really want to be the guy who shows up to work wearing clingy spandex and smells like socks?

3. Treat yourself to a pedicure … or two or five. If you’re like me and you let your toenails grind into the tops of your sneakers until they are too thick to cut with over-the-counter clippers, this is totally worth the 20 bucks. Try not to feel bad when the pedicurist starts laugh-crying when three-quarters of your toenail falls off while you’re removing your socks, but do tip generously.

4. Maintain and cultivate friendships by inviting your loved ones to run with you. If they say no, trick them into your car and force them to help you navigate new routes, clock mileage, and get hopelessly lost on muddy dirt backroads.

5. Lighten up! Even if it means seven hours of sleep instead of eight, eat dinner with your boyfriend when he cooks, buy a concert ticket, and don’t turn down a good party. You are not Marion Jones, and this is not the Olympics.

Mari Zagarins

When Mari isn't running, biking, hiking, or jumping-jacking in and around her home in Montpelier, she is practicing her facial expressions in the mirror and contemplating whether she should learn to swim.