Over Rivers And Rails

“To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want. The world is not yet a crazy enough place to reward a whole bunch of undeserving people.” — Charles T. Munger

The grind of logging long miles each week, for month after month, serves as a test of a runner’s journey to the starting line.

The journey challenges a runner’s body, commitment and discipline. So, even if the muscles, bones and ligaments hold up, the mental variables in preparation for a 26.2-mile race can sink the best training plans.

Most weeks, on the eve of long runs, the mental drain of my endeavor looms — for 150 to 180 minutes, my legs and mind will take me over the distance of 16 to 20 miles. Rarely do I leave in time to enjoy the early morning light and sounds. Frequently that means running as the mercury rises.

Running a marathon isn’t supposed to be easy. There are no tricks or gimmicks to make it easier. But there’s one training principle that gives me an advantage.

Suffer in training.

It’s pretty simple in theory. Not so easy in practice, especially since it goes against human nature and the brain is hardwired to minimalize pain, even to the point in keeping the body from pushing itself beyond extremes.

For me, suffering in training starts by eating little to nothing before long runs and taking nothing — no GU, no Cliff Bar and no Powerade — during them. Just water.

The New York City Marathon is 16 weeks away.

Five boroughs. Five bridges, including the menacing Queensboro Bridge. Fifty-thousand runners.

Until then, my Saturday mornings will be spent on the roads, finding ways to make those long runs just a little more difficult and running repeats on bridges over rivers and rail yards over and over again until the miles pile up.


1 Response

  1. Jeremy

    Great post, Steve. I was wondering about the idea of extensively using GU and electrolyte drinks on longer training runs… but I can get behind the idea of how teaching your body to handle the suffering will give you an advantage on race day.

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