5 factors to consider when signing up for a marathon

As a former employee of Runner’s World Magazine, I had the privilege of running my very first marathon through the Runner’s World VIP Program (formerly known as “Runner’s World Challenge”). I was able to gain first-hand experience and extensive knowledge on how to properly train for a marathon with the help of my colleagues along with our robust amount of published content within the magazine.

Being that it was my first marathon, I took it very seriously. I made sure to allow myself the proper amount of time for training as well as dedicating myself to following a specific marathon training program (In this case, it was Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Marathon Training Program)

Although I had no expectation for a specific goal time, I did want to ensure that I gave it my all and was as prepared as I could be.

I finished in a time of 4 hours and 7 seconds, with a decent amount of energy left over afterwards. In hindsight, now knowing that I was well-prepared enough, I wish I had aimed for a time of under 4 hours, but that’s besides the point.

After running Big Sur Marathon, I had never felt more accomplished in my life. I had assumed that since I had one marathon in the bag, every marathon following this one would be a piece of cake. Little did I know, that’s completely untrue.

Just because you ran one doesn’t mean it will get easier or that it will be a similar experience for your next. Just like any job or any relationship, you never have the same experience twice. There are many factors that go into running a great race. One thing is for sure – Never lessen your efforts or level of integrity.

Here are some of the major factors that can make or break your marathon experience:

  1. The Course. Some people don’t like to research the course beforehand. I personally think that’s ridiculous. Knowing the course can play a huge role in how you train. Knowing whether or not it’s hilly and knowing where the hills are located can help you both physically and mentally. Being prepared for running up or downhill will affect performance and fatigue in the long run (no pun intended) based on your training. Other factors in the course include altitude, scenery, and terrain.
    • Altitude falls under the “hilly or not” bucket. Running a race in Colorado versus New York are two completely different experiences because of the altitude levels, which ultimately affects your breathing.
    • Scenery can psychologically affect your performance. Visually stimulating courses may or may not improve your running pace, depending on how affected you are by your surroundings. If you want to see more trees, sign up for a race in a more remote location. If you want to see more buildings, sign up for a race in a larger city.
    • Terrain is in reference to pavement versus dirt. Depending on where you primarily train, your legs, and more specifically your knees, can be severely impacted by the texture of the course. Pavement tends to put more strain on your joints as opposed to dirt trails.
  2. The Crowd. Similar to the way people are affected by running with music, running a marathon that has great crowds can aid performance. One of the things that I loved most about running the New York City Marathon was amount of support you received from the local communities as you are running through the different boroughs and neighborhoods.
  3. The Training Plan. Not all training plan works for everyone. When it comes to running, everyone has different levels of expertise and physical fitness. Some training programs cater specifically to elite runners, while others cater to beginners. In addition, people also have such varying schedules throughout the week that not every program fits their daily routine. However, when it comes to marathon training, you do have to be flexible as well as dedicated. Skipping out on long runs or refraining from speed workouts can really hinder performance.
  4. The Season. In the United States, primary marathon season takes place in the Fall. Most of the major big-city marathons occur between September and November (and they fill up fast, so make sure you sign up early!). Fall in the United States can be wildly unpredictable. Temperatures tend to fluctuate and so do the chances of precipitation, high-wind factor, and humidity. If you are running a race in the Fall, be cognizant of the fact that a majority of your training takes place in the Summer, so the temperatures will not be nearly the same. You also must consider the chances of rain, high winds, and high humidity. Be properly dressed and well-hydrated.
  5. Size of the race. The size of a marathon can widely vary from a range of a couple hundred to thousands among thousands. I’ve run three marathons thus far, which include the Big Sur Marathon, New York City Marathon, and Marine Corps Marathon. Of the three, New York City and Marine Corps were very large races that took place in larger cities, with participants upwards of 30,000+ runners. The Big Sur Marathon, on the other hand, only had approximately 6,000+ runners. The size of the race can affect your performance depending on your preference of running alongside more people or fewer people.

From my personal experience, the best marathon I have run still remains the Big Sur Marathon, my first one. And this is because of the fact that I was so adamant about training.

So my advice is this – You get what you give.

The amount of preparation you set aside will not be in vain. Give it everything you have and it will come through in the end.

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My Comeback (Part 2)

As an extension to my last post, titled the “My Comeback“, I’m giving some insight as to what I’ve been noticing since it was published. Specifically, I wanted to share some of the reactions that I’ve been receiving after publicizing my personal experiences.

I’ve noticed that ever since I’ve began exposing this kind of information about my life – the intimate details of my breakup, the loss of my job, the overall confusion in my life – people have felt the need to reach out and say something to me, whether it be directly or indirectly.

I’ve been receiving feedback, comments, and even having people share their own personal struggles. And of course, it is not my business or place to expand on the details of other people’s lives.

But, I would like to say that I appreciate and even applaud those of you who have felt compelled to share your experiences with me. I’m glad that I am able to motivate people to react, reflect, and relate to what I am going through.

The beauty of writing is that you are connecting with your audience in an extremely personal way. Knowing that I have reached people in a way that makes them feel like they are not alone is exactly what I aim for in my writing. And as a writer, that’s when I have done my job.

And if you are not necessarily able to personally relate to my experiences, then that’s okay too. Because my writing is not out in the open in order for people to feel sympathy for me. It’s to try to get people to think in a different way; For people to understand that everyone is going through something difficult even if it doesn’t appear so.

And with that being said, I think that it makes my comeback a little more worth fighting for.

Two Weeks Until the Philippines

Recently, I’ve been very silent with using this personal blog to disclose my recent experiences and emotions. Instead, I’ve tried expanding my horizons to other Publishing platforms such as Medium, LinkedIn and EliteDaily. However, I can’t fully neglect the base for which I started my writing journey.

So, here I am providing one very large update. Although much has happened in the time since my last real entry, the largest piece of news that I have to offer is this:

I am leaving for my second-ever International trip to my parent’s home country of the Philippines in two weeks.

If you are familiar with my most recent travels, I went to Australia (my very first International trip) last August and it had opened my eyes to the wonders of traveling to a foreign country and being introduced to a different culture.

Personally, this trip to the Philippines is going to mean so much more than just being introduced to a different culture. In fact, it’s not quite different for me at all.

Being raised in a dual-culture environment was a crucial factor towards the person that I’ve become. As a child, it’s difficult to fully commit to one culture or the other, especially if you are a minority. You cannot hide your physical features no matter how hard you try. I’m a Filipino-American, and I was raised in a predominantly Filipino household. However, I more strongly identify myself with being American.

My parents would speak to me in their native language, however, I’d foolishly refuse to learn how to speak. I understood the language, but I chose English instead. It wasn’t until I grew older did I realize how important that part of me is.

I don’t want to say that I regret the choices I’ve made in the past, but I will say that I wish I had made a greater effort to learn my parent’s native tongue and be more immersed in my heritage.

Millions of people came to the United States to pursue the “American dream” Many of whom made this decision for their children; to provide them with opportunities that they could not have had in their home country.

I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to my parents for coming here. I know that they made this decision for my sister and I. I also know that I will never be able to repay them for the sacrifices that they’ve made for us. However, I do realize all of the things that they left behind for us and I cannot say that it was in vain.

My family isn’t wealthy. We aren’t even on par with the majority of the Middle Class. However, we are happy with what we do have and what we have is something that most people strive for; a loving and supportive family.

Going to the Philippines will be an eye-opener for me. It will show me the bigger picture of where my parents came from, who and what they left behind, and why they are the way they are. I have a feeling that this trip will impact me in many ways and I couldn’t be more excited. There’s just something about going to your place of lineage and discovering your roots.

For many years, I was beginning to doubt if it would ever happen due to financial circumstance, but miracles can and do happen. Things only seem impossible until they are done.

Again, this trip wouldn’t be possible without the help of my parents. They came to America from the Philippines and now they are taking me and my sister back with them.

It’s going to be an amazing journey and I can’t wait to soak up as much as I can -Stay tuned for more