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Conclusion #42: How To Train For A Marathon On Your Daily Commute

By Allen Rinehart

Allen Rinehart finishing the 2013 Rock N' Roll Marathon

Completing a marathon was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done…but surprisingly, with a persistent training, it’s something that I think anyone can accomplish.  I finished the 2013 San Diego Rock N’ Roll marathon in 4 hours and 37 minutes.  I credit my completion to a single habit.  Running to work everyday. When I first began to train for this marathon, I struggled with trying to fit workouts into my already busy schedule.  I really didn’t look forward to working all day, then coming home and running 3-4 miles at night.  But after moving to San Diego in March, I realized that my job was the perfect location from my apartment.  Using the free commuter ferry, I was able to get from my downtown San Diego apartment to my ship in Coronado everyday.  Not only did I get in incredible shape running just 6 miles a day, I saved on commuting costs.  No gas, tolls or car insurance to get to work.  Just the sweat off my back and the food in my belly.  Using a Camelback, I strapped all of my essentials on my back  and ran to work, where I showered and changed.  Surprisingly, it took the same amount of time as walking.

Strand Yourself and Find Your Way Home

If you have any experience with running, then you might be familiar with this technique.  The idea is that you run to a place that is far enough away from your home that you can’t easily cut your workout short and run back home.  Run commuting is an example of this.  I ran to work and therefore I must run home.  There’s no debate about whether I should go to work or should come home.  I needed to go there, so I just ran.  I’d even leave my apartment later and later in the morning to force myself to run faster.  If not, I’d miss the ferry and be late for work.  I did the same thing on a long run.  To run my first half marathon, I ran to the end of a peninsula and took a trolley back to my apartment.

Here are few other lessons learned from the race:

  1. Combining Run Commutes and Weekend Long Runs – Of course I did more than just running to work for this marathon.  On the weekend, my friend Scott and I did long runs.  About six weeks before the race I ran progressively longer runs. I did a 10, 16 and then finally completing a 20-mile run two weeks before the race.  After that I just did my my daily runs and actually took the week before the race off to ensure I was well rested.
  2. Nutrition and Hydration – With running that far, you start to realize how important food and water while you’re working out.  I’d suggest using energy gels if you’re going to run more than 10 miles.  I like the Vega gels.  They’re all natural plant-based gels.  We were consuming these about every 30-45 minutes during the marathon.  In regards to water, be sure you check out the aid stations.  We drank water almost every two miles.  Be sure to drink at every station to ensure you maintain hydration.
  3. Running Equipment – Originally, I thought about using my Camelback to hold water during the run, but after visiting the Pre-race Expo, I found a FuelBelt to wear instead.  I figured the aid stations would have enough water and I just wanted to have something light to hold my energy gels.  A lot of people also had belts with water bottles attached.  If you get anything, make sure it attaches to your waist.  Definitely more comfortable then having something strapped to your back for 4 hours.

Looking back, I’m glad I got the chance to run a marathon.  The experience has given me a new appreciation for running.  But more than anything else, it has given me a new way of looking at transportation.  Since, I don’t have a car, I get around a lot on foot and public transportation.  Now I have a whole new way of getting places…just run there! I’m working on a base that’s about six miles from my apartment.  I really wanted to run there and back everyday.  Imagine what great shape you’d be in running a half marathon everyday! The only problem is they don’t have a place I can change and store my clothes.  It’s a problem I’ve been trying figure out.  I tried running with my uniform and boots and a backpack the first day and I could barely get about 1,000 feet without getting exhausted.  Oh well.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out. But if you had any frustrations about marathon running, definitely consider running to work everyday.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

P.S…Check out there race photos here if you’re interested.

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