How I Ran My First Marathon and Didn’t Die

Running 26.2 miles seemed so far four years ago. Actually, it still seems far, but not impossible. Some people run because they like the physical results (ie, weight loss). Some people enjoy the competition. I, however, like running for the sake of running itself. I prefer dirt trails, but any kind of mileage, road or trail will do. Just don’t put me on a treadmill or a track and I’m good.
Five years ago I was fat, out of shape, and newly divorced. Never being much of an athlete, I didn’t know where to start. Today, I have a trophy case full of medals, and all the confidence in the world that I am healthy and can face any challenge that comes forth. I lost 60 pounds and am nearly back to my high school weight. I feel great!
I wanted to get into shape, and wanted to look good. The gym was always to crowded and I was afraid of falling off a bike. A friend challenged me and encouraged me to start running. My first run was half a mile and hurt like Hell. My second run hurt a little less, and by my third run I was running over two miles and was hooked. Now I regularly run 4-10 mile runs without much trouble and can successfully navigate long 20-25 mile trail runs when I’m in the mood.
Here is a sport that takes no training, no special equipment, beyond $100 shoes, and no talent to start. Strap on your shoes and hit the road. Some tunes make some runs more fun, yet the sound of silence broken only by the birds singing as the sun goes up on a morning run add just as much enjoyment. I put off a Marathon for a few years, thinking that was way beyond me. Finally, after 2 years of running I signed up for a half marathon. So many people are intimidated by the idea of any “official” event. My message to you is have no fear. Runners are friendly and encouraging. Speed is not important. Just run…go out and run…If you need to walk, then walk. I completed a couple half marathons and felt ready to run a full marathon. I ran my first marathon about a year ago, and my second six months later. I have ran several non event runs that are close to marathon length since then.
Running is like any other challenge in life. You have to really want it. There’s no magic pill or trick to make you a “runner”. The only thing you need to become a runner is to run. Getting to marathon mileage, in my opinion is more desire than strength or talent. I once heard a seasoned runner say “running is 90% mental and the other 10% is mental”. That means you have to persevere and challenge yourself. Don’t listen to the voice in your head telling you to sleep in, or the weather’s not perfect, or…or….Get off that couch and run. You will thank me later.


About Rocco De Leo

I am Rocco DeLeo. For years, I felt like I had so much more to offer the world than simply going to work and coming home. While I've always found my work to be engaging and rewarding, I knew I had much more to offer. Over the last few years, I've started focusing on personal development, my relationship with God, and what to do next. I write and podcast (And Dad Makes 7 Podcast) at about this journey. Mostly, I enjoy sharing the struggle, but sometimes I find some wisdom to share. My wife Jamie and I are raising a blended family with 5 children. Thankfully she stays home. When I'm not creating, I'm usually running trails, fishing with my kids, or enjoying a cigar in my backyard.

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