LOS ANGELES—It’s mile five before you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into. The sun is rising and the temperature feels like it will remain cool enough for you to maintain your current pace, as long as your legs hold up. It’s the part of the race when you start to repeat the mantra, “first 10 miles with your head.” It’s time to conserve your energy and run smart so you have energy reserves later.
Mile 10 passes by and now you tell yourself, “The race has begun. Run the next 10 miles with your legs.” It’s okay to let it go a bit and count on the training you’ve put in for this moment. Your next 10 miles will be run with the power and conditioning of your legs. As mile marker 13.1 flies by, you think “it's downhill from here.”
Hydrating as you run through the next water stop, you gauge your pace and check in with your energy levels, “All systems go!” You let your mind wander slightly to pass the time and let the body do its work. Streaks of emotion rise and fall through you with the miles as you feel a sense of pride in your potential accomplishment and the work it has taken to get you here.
Mile 20 rises on the horizon and is left in the dust of your heels as you kick into the final leg. With only six miles to go, the time has come to see what you are made of. This is the part of the race that is “run with the heart.” You have extinguished the fuel needed for your body and, within the next miles, your brain. There is no more convincing yourself to run, the mind doesn’t have the power, you have to dig deeper. Your legs hurt, along with every square inch of your body. Every mile is a year and your instinct is to drink water to escape the pain but somewhere deep down you know it will only slow you down and you have the hydration to finish.
Looking down at your watch as you pass the 25-mile marker, you realize a personal record is within reach. A burst of adrenaline surges through your veins and you begin to kick with the intensity of the first mile, hours earlier when you excitedly rushed off the start line with thousands of others in your predawn delirium. This restored pace is slowly and steadily becoming a sprint and your head is flowing with emotion. The pain is gone and you’re not sure you even feel your body as you float down the corridor of cheering fans and cross the finish line.
As you come to a walk and a finisher’s medal is placed around your neck, the pain flushes your body like a flood and you feel the effects on your body for the first time. Struggling to walk, you realize that this moment is the reward. Stripped down to your soul, completely exhausted and hardly able to walk, you smile and realize you just ran a marathon.
Running tip of the week: Run the first 10 miles with your head, the second 10 with your legs and the last 6.2 with your heart.
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