Five Non-Running Essentials for Training for a Marathon

How many miles a week do you run? How long is your longest run? What is your diet like? How many hours of sleep do you get a night? How are you fueling on race and long runs?

These five questions are just an example of what people ask when you train for a marathon. They are important questions and I have answers for these questions.

However, I don’t want to write about these questions. There are a bunch of articles online and books you can read that are written by people who are much smarter than me. There are experts you can read that can provide way more information on these matters than I can.

There is so much more to running than just training, sleeping, and eating. And that is what this piece is about.

What follows are my five essentials for training for a marathon that have nothing to do with training, eating, or sleeping. Though silly at times, I do believe that all of these play a role in getting the best out of yourself in a marathon.

  1. A Power Phrase:

Same as a mantra, a power phrase is a short statement or slogan that is repeated frequently. You will use this power phrase when things are tough, both in training and then in the race. My power phrase for my last marathon was “thrive, not survive.” Des Linden (2018 Boston Marathon Champion and one of my favorite professional runners) used the phrase “swing away” in the New York City Marathon this past Sunday. Scott Fauble (another one of my favorites) uses “fuckwithmeyouknowigotit” from a Jay Z and Rick Ross song. Does not matter where it comes from, pick a phrase that resonates with you and practice using it during tough moments during your marathon buildup and then use it on race day.

Last year, I wrote my power phrase on my bib as well as a quote from my motivational show.

2. Watch A Motivational Show

Training for marathon requires a lot of down time. Get the most out of that down time by watching a motivational television show. Ideally, this is a show that can be watched consistently for the two or three months leading up to your marathon. And in this show, you should be able to see the parallels to running. The Office, while a great show, does not have many parallels to training for a marathon (stay tuned for my next piece on how Jim courting Pam is actually a metaphor for marathon training).

My go to is always anime and for my last marathon I watched Black Clover. In that show, the main character Asta always says “Never giving up is my magic!” While that is arguably a horrible magic power, never giving up is what the marathon is all about.

You could also read a motivational book.

3. A Go-To Outfit

Look good, feel good, run good right? While it does not necessarily have to be an entire outfit, you need at least one article of clothing that you throw on for tough workouts and when you are feeling like you need a little boost. Let this article of clothing serve as a reminder that you mean business, you are determined to crush this marathon, and you are tough. It is also helpful if you when you wear it you feel cute. The run always goes a little better when you are feeling cute.

My friends Cole and Chad who were essential to my success at my first marathon.

4. A Friend That Really Cares About Running and A Friend Who Doesn’t Care

People who train for marathons only talk about how they are training for marathons. You may think that you are not going to be that person, but inevitably you will need to let it out. That’s why you need a friend that cares about running. That friend can be your go to when you just need to tell someone about your latest 16 mile steady state run where you averaged 6:22 pace. They can grasp those numbers and be just as excited as you are about it. Without this friend, you will start to tell everyone about your latest workout and the truth is that they just really don’t care. They are rooting for you and your marathon journey but they don’t need to hear about it.

At the same time, you need one friend who just does not care about your running. At all. This is the friend you go to when your running going the way you want to. This is your friend who is there for you when you have felt like crap all week and are just sick of running. This is the friend who grabs a beer with you at 1 PM after you have just dropped out a workout and need to forget about it. They will never ask you about your training. In fact, they probably forgot that you are even running a marathon. This friend is just as essential as your friend who really cares about running.

5. A Physical Symbol Of Your Choice To Run A Marathon

This is a symbol of your commitment to running a marathon. Something that you can look at and it immediately reminds you that you are committed to training, running, and finishing this marathon. Right before I started training for my last marathon, I got my first two tattoos. I used these as a physical symbol for my commitment to the marathon. For the Boston Marathon, I have decided my symbol is growing out my hair. Don’t want to get a tattoo or grow out your hair? Buy a bracelet or piece of jewelry. They are a little less of a commitment than tattoos or ridiculously long hair. But you need a symbol that tells you that you chose to do this and you are committed to getting it done.

This was a fun piece to write. Hope you enjoyed it. Love you.


Just a guy who runs and tries to do some writing