Aspiring to conquer the marathon? 26.2 miles / 49.195 KM of pain and suffering, many might say. I don’t think it has to be … however the two marathons I ran before yesterday’s Twin Cities Marathon kinda sucked. What changed? I got a little older and wiser … here’s the story and I hope it inspires you to get there — or closer to there — be it couch to 5k, or walking every day, or strengthening your heart with mantra and conscious breathwork. Not all of us have the desire or a structure to support / enjoy (??) many hours of pounding the pavement. But if you do aspire to run one, if I can do it, you can do it. Seriously. Here are some things that worked for me, and a lot of it was in my mind. I am not a running coach or anything, this is my personal journey with it! Also, I’m so happy to work 1:1 with you to talk about training, private yoga lessons to support your aspirations, and vegan coaching should you like to transition! More info about that here.
I love that this race comes from a Greek legend, that of the messenger Philippides. He ran to deliver a message that the Persians had been defeated in the battle of Marathon which he himself fought in, 490 BC. He supposedly ran approximately 26.2 miles to Athens without stopping, possibly climbing Mount Pentelicus to get there. He burst into assembly and cried “We have won!” and then he collapsed and died. Please note that he just fought a battle, ran non-stop, and may have climbed a mountain in this journey. So, that could for sure kill you.
While death actually IS a risk factor in marathon running, death is a risk factor in everyday life. Who knows when we’ll croak. We can’t live not doing things for fear of death (within reason, lol) because then we might be housebound. But even there we have dangers of choking, or falling down the stairs, or random violence, dear goddess, I pray not … Anyway that is morbid AF, but just to demonstrate that we can die anytime.
Back to the marathon, you could just choose to run it on your own and stash water or have a camelbak pack with water, or bring money and get snacks and water as you go … or pay around $100-200 to register for an official one. At the Twin Cities Marathon, this gets you support with water, gatorade, and snacks all through the race, a nice finisher long sleeve athletic t, a free 10 min massage at the end, lots of snacks at finish, spectators cheering you on, and a free summit beer. They photograph along the way and you get a video of when you run through the finish line. It was a good value. The only other thing you need to buy is a pair of running shoes and comfy clothes to run in. Run in them a LOT to make sure they work on race day. I also invested in Body Glide (a deodorant-like substance that prevents chafing) because I chafe like a mofo and it is very unpleasant. I brought my phone along to listen to tunes and carried a packet of extra fuel, clif bar and some gummies. Not the fun kind, just the sugary kind. 😉
What the hell does this have to do with music?
I am a musician, always have been, always will be, and I run. When I run, I get song inspirations. I hear lyrics, I hear melodies. Many a song has come. Running gives the body a task so that the mind can be more free to roam, but not ruminate. The heart pounds a lively beat, the sweat cleanses what is bogging us down, the scenery moves and the fresh air fills our lungs. When I don’t run, I get depressed. True story. I’ve been on anti-depressants before. It’s no joke. Exercise is a natural mood booster. Our sedentary lives are new to us since these “modern conveniences” freed up our physical bodies from plowing the fields and harvesting the berries and of course running from predators. Now that flight response shows up in our anxious minds and sleepless nights.
I’m grateful to announce that I’m in the “running” to be an Artist Ambassador for Mizuno Running– they graciously noticed my music life and my running life and enthusiasm for both and they sent me a pair of badass shoes (Waveknit). I’m sooo hoping this ambassador program launches and I can be in cahoots with them to spread the good news of the linking of creativity and running.
“… running (like all physical activity) produces an increase in dopamine, the chemical that’s most often associated with creativity. That, combined with a relaxed mind, can create the ideal environment for new thoughts.”KRISTEN GEIL – A sweat life
Please enjoy a stream and a free download of “The City Trees” that came to me on a run many years ago …
There are many ways to train out there. I loosely followed Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk program although I don’t walk nearly as much as he advises. But let this bolster your spirit – you can run a few minutes and then walk 30 seconds, and repeat this as long as it takes you. Here’s his guide for run-walking:
Run Walk Run ratio should correspond to the pace used (Runners).
8 min/mi—run 4 min/walk 30 seconds
9 min/mi— 2 min run/walk 30 seconds
12 min/mi—-1:00/30 or 40/20
14 min/mi—30/30 or 30/20
I also like the Complete Book of Women’s Running by Runner’s World training guide for beginners. This goes by time rather than pace and I followed this pretty religiously my first two marathons.
The first two marathons (Seattle Rock and Roll, 2011, Twin Cities Marathon 2017) I totally overtrained and fucked my knee up. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to finish that during training I ran 24-26 miles just to make sure I didn’t get picked up by the bus.
This year I only ran up to 18 miles for my longest run.
My training looked like this. It took about four months.
I had a base running fitness where I had been running 3.5 miles 4-5 times per week.
- Three 3.5 milers, long run 7 miles
- Three 3.5 milers, long run 8 miles
- Three 3.5 milers, long run 9 miles
- Three 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 10 miles
- Three 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 11 miles
- Rest, a couple 2-4 milers
- Three 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 12 miles
- Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 13 miles
- Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 14 miles
- Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 15 miles
- Rest with cycling & yoga & 2 short (2-3 mile) runs
- Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 16 miles
- Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 17 miles
- Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 18 miles
- Taper (barely running, some biking, some gentle yoga)
Also, I have switched to barely driving a car this year, weather permitting. I bike commute almost everywhere and sometimes I’d bike 20+ miles in a day, and typically 5-10 miles/day. And I teach yoga, so I get to enjoy memberships at the studios I teach at so I incorporate at least 1 yoga class a week, plus my personal practice, which I’ll explain a bit more below.
You probably know that I’m vegan, following a plant-based diet. I do eat gluten, and carbs are a distance runner’s friends. I get plenty of protein because there is protein in everything and I believe it is a myth that we need shit tons of protein to function. I eat beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains. I try to eat as much fresh produce as possible, lots of kale, cruciferous veg like cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts. Lots of peanut butter and oatmeal. I have found that switching to a vegan diet, my recovery time is pretty swift and my energy is very steady. I also feel spiritually aligned with this diet because I am not harming animals, and it has far less environmental impact. There are some incredible vegan athletes who have written books with lots of recipes — check out Eat & Run by Scott Jurek and No Meat Athlete by Matt Frazier.
Yesterday’s race was really beautiful. The rain got out of the way, torrentially, the day before. The October sunrise was red and pink, standing overlooking the stadium from my boyfriend’s downtown condo (one of my motivations for racing again this year was that Dylan lives only a few blocks from the starting line!). A breeze, but the wind didn’t pick up til the race was over …
My fave parts were basilica bells ringing as well zoomed through downtown Minneapolis, the sweet high school (?) band in front of the Walker Art Museum, curving around all the beautiful lakes, all the cool spectators saying “Go Vegan!” cuz that’s what it said on my bib, the T. rex costume with the “Run Bitches” sign, and Dylan biking all over town to see me, 7 times! And my amazing parents meeting me at the end. Oh and the free 10 min massage at the end by CenterPoint school of massage.
It was VERY hard, at mile 21 my legs turned to rocks. I could easily walk them but to pick them up felt TERRIBLE! I’m not quite sure how to remedy this. Only that at this point it gets spiritual …
Finding the bliss …
That picture above is what it takes to sit in easy seated pose today (even after a 20 minute asana practice!) – a zafu, and two blocks under my thighs. Quadriceps are SORE after running the Twin Cities Marathon yesterday! I am grateful to the many limbs of yoga practice for the support:
🙏🏼 YAMAS & NIYAMAS
Ahimsa – nonharming – kind self talk when the going gets rough and deep respect for runners & organizers + plant based diet that replenishes my cells and reduces suffering for all beings //Svadhyaya – self-study – knowing when to rest // Isvara Pranidhana – Surrender – offering the intention of this race to higher good – running for the animals, for my dad, for the beauty of the earth
ASANA – Postures that supported these 26.2 miles: apanasana, dynamic salabasana (locust), dvipadipitham (dynamic bridges), eka pada rajakapotasana (pigeon), virhabadrasana (warrior), ardha ustrasana (half camel / low kneeling lunges), navasana (boat) supta baddhakonasana (reclined bound angle pose), savasana
PRANAYAMA – Conscious breathwork – breath is key in running. Settling into a smooth even rhythm and monitoring when it gets ragged. Via mantra, I’ve been developing deeper breath capacity. Also using exhale technique (drawing navel up to spine on exhale for slight core contraction, almost mula bandha-like) which helped keep my core strong I think …
PRATYAHARA – withdrawing of senses – The first half of the 26.2 miles were extremely stimulating – tons of spectators and excitement and I found myself running WAY faster than I trained. Around mile 18 had to draw that energy in and discontinue the external. It felt like putting a protective bubble on, going more internal
DHARANA – single pointed meditative focus (very simplified explanation) – goal was JUST FINISH. One foot in front of the other. Started walking more around mile 21. Focus on each moment, each careful step.
DHIYANA – meditation / absorption (simplified) – at mile 23 put the headphones on and let music be a balm. Got shivers of joy and unitive bliss. Truly!
SAMADHI – Union w/ Divine – Speeding up to cross the finish, a celebration of life and effort. Amazing race, the human race!
Thank you SO MUCH for reading about my race.
Did you run? Do you want to? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or shoot me an email at the contact link!
If you enjoy these writings, songs, teachings of mine, I’d be SO grateful if you’d support my work on Patreon! I’m offering a special through October for all Patreon members $5+ — my first LIVE recording — Live at the Mission Room recorded by Henri Minette. It’s a compilation of songs from my band’s Fall Residency at the Hook and Ladder Mission Room in Minneapolis. Next show is Oct 16th, and Oct. 17 at Reif Center in Grand Rapids, MN.