I started running more than a year ago. At first, it was because I wanted to have a regular outdoor activity that would keep me in shape, but over time, it turned out as a challenge to test my limits.
The first limit was running a 10K on Ljubljana Marathon. 10 kilometers seemed quite a lot at the time, and I remember vividly when I cheered and admired others running half and full marathons. It wasn’t even on the top of my mind that I’d be the one running a marathon in a year. But everything starts with the first step.
The first and obvious step would be to run a half–marathon. I did that two times. First time in April in Zagreb and two months later on Plitvice lakes Marathon (which is considered one of the hardest races in Croatia). By finishing both half–marathons under two hours, I was really motivated to think about preparing for a full-length marathon.
The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26.219 miles, or 26 miles 385 yards), usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides (more correctly, Philippides), a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, who reported the victory.
A Good Training Schedule
During summer, I was thinking about the best way to prepare for a marathon, I’ve read a lot of articles and it was obvious that I would need a good training plan for that. I started doing regular runs (two or three times a week) and over time I was confident that I could do it. New running shoes that better matched my running preferences also helped — I’ve settled for Salomon X-SCREAM Flare GTX (who is naming these things?).
A month before a marathon, I got sick. This was the worst possible time to get sick — and I could feel my performance and resolve wearing off.
That’s when I decided to explore options to change my category to a half–marathon because I wanted to be sure I could finish something and not get completely disappointed on the race day. The funny thing is that I wasn’t able to change the category because the numbers were already printed but I was assured that I could change it directly on the spot when I picked up my number. That was a sign — a sign that I could hope (and practice) for the best while preparing for the worst.
For The Win
As soon as I felt better, I did what each one of my peers would do — Googled “How to prepare for a marathon in a month” and I was confident once again I could do it. In the next several weeks, I did a lot of weekly runs of 13–20 km and in the last ten days following a marathon — I did longer runs: 26 km and 32 km. This gave me plenty of self-confidence that I could pull it off on the marathon day. There was no going back after this, even though I could have switched categories — that was simply not an option at this point. It helps if you have support from your significant other and your friends.
And I did it. It took me a year from doing something that seemed impossible to even think about it — to actually doing it. It was perfect. The weather was great, a perfect Sunday in Ljubljana — I kept my pace consistent, until 30th kilometer, when I started to feel tired. People cheering by the side motivated me to push further and although the pace degraded in the last 10 kilometers, it was enough to get me to my desired time.
4:10:11 was the time it took to finish my first marathon. I would probably be happier if the time was under 4 hours, but I’m hoping to break that personal record next year. It might seem impossible — but I know I can do it. And you can do it as well.