Triple Marathon Recipe
By Blue Benadum
Sep 27, 2009 - 12:05:03 PM
MALIBU—I am counting down the days until I step up to the start line of another 78.6 mile race around Lake Tahoe—26.2 miles per day for three days. The Tahoe Triple is one of the most beautiful locations for a marathon in the country and the weekend is full of events from 5ks and kayak races, to ultra-marathons and bike races. Coming out of my off season, I have been assessing what it takes to complete such an undertaking. This is something anyone could do and what it takes to do it.
Your first prerequisite is a decent background in athletics or a sustained level of fitness over an extended period of time. The grueling physical effects of such an event require the body to have the ability to rest and recover as efficiently as possible in order to repeat the performance over and over. This doesn't mean you have to have a background in ultra-marathon events in order to run an ultra-marathon; it’s just that the body needs to be as finely tuned as possible with the ability and memory of what will be expected from it over the weekend. As common sense tells us, it is always beneficial to train in the sport in which you plan on competing or performing in, but overall fitness can be nearly as important.
The next thing you will need is something you have heard a hundred times but can't repeat enough: the belief that you can do it. This is the trickiest part of the equation by far. All levels of athletes will struggle with self-doubt at some point, and it is an internal battle that is weekly, daily, hourly and so on. We will all usually, sometimes subconsciously, adopt mantras to repeat to ourselves for motivation and inspiration to carry us through moments of adversity. At an elevation of around 7,000 feet above sea level, having run two marathons the two prior days, barely able to walk, you will need to find a way to convince yourself that running 26 more miles is a good idea, whether it is or not, because this is what you have committed to do.
The third tool I believe you will need is one that comes into play for most marathons I have completed. This is the ability to just let go, or "zone out." There will be many "walls" that you will hit and after a certain point you just give yourself to the pain and stop trying to distract yourself. It is a state of mind that comes when you have nothing left, no energy and no inspiration, no thoughts... nothing. This is what they call running with the heart. It is another gear, a place where you find peace within the absurdity.
My final thought on what it takes to finish an ultra distance race on foot is LUCK! With all of the above in place, you will still need all of the logistics to fall in place, including a good crew to keep you hydrated and alive. And there you have the recipe for success for a triple marathon. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to reread this repeatedly for the rest of the day to try and convince myself it’s a good idea.