But fine. You’ve accepted the facts, you know it’s going to be hard, you’ve run your 5ks and 10ks, and maybe even a half or two. You take a break from training, smoke a few cigarettes, stay out later than you should, and then there you are: 20 weeks away from the ultimate adult extracurricular activity, The Marathon.
Your training plan is downloaded and pasted on the wall with different dates and goals and when certain half marathons and times should be achieved. You’ve got the outfits, the courses, the GPS band, and you’re ready to rock. You step out in your all black power running outfit, put “Blurred Lines on,” and make it to the end of the street before realizing that while you’ve surmounted all of the mental, spiritual, and metaphorical obstacles, you haven’t considered the wet, hot reality of training for the marathon: New York is fucking disgusting in the summer.
This was me this past week. I put the metaphoric black paint under my eyes, hit Riverside Drive at 148th, and was literally dripping before I’d made it half a mile. “There’s no fucking way,” I said to myself. I finished the first 5k of the training plan, and then got home and started googling “How to Become a Surrogate”. Obviously, I’m going to do it. But the question, it seems, is how to train for the ultimate AEA in the sweltering cage of a Manhattan summer without dying, quitting, or going insane. Let us not forget that, as legend has it, Pheidippides ran the original marathon, delivered his message, and promptly dropped dead. It’s hot in Athens. He probably didn’t drink his Zico. He only ran 24.85 miles.
I’ve read countless articles about how to make running in the summer heat more bearable. Join the gym, they say. Okay, sure. Let me run on a treadmill at Planet Fitness for two and a half hours. That sounds miserable. Make your long runs into an adventure, they say, by combining them with a day trip out of the sticky city. Great idea, Runner’s World: Can you lend me fifty bucks for the round trip train ticket to Kingston so I can take a wrong turn and end up with Lyme disease? Find a running group in your neighborhood, they say, and the energy of the group will keep you more motivated. Excellent idea: I’ll just head to Central Park straight after my Friday double shift, because “running group” seems to be synonymous with unreasonable and disgusting wakeup time.
These suggestions found online and in magazines work for about seventeen people, all of whom are 38 years old, really rich, and probably really annoying. What we need are running tips for the regular people, for those of us who work shit jobs with shittier hours, who would prefer to save our money for liquor binges and overpriced earrings. As one such individual, I have compiled a list of training tips for the Average NYC Marathon Trainee.
Running around the parks and paths of NYC means that you’re going to be mingling with all those city dwellers who don’t have the money to do indoor events. They save their cash for the all-important summer purchase: Marijuana. Breathe deep, deeper, deeper, and if you run long enough, you’ll get a secondhand high that’ll make you forget you’re doing your 16 mile run in 90 degree weather.
2) Hit the Hood
Let’s face it: Running in Central Park is fine for a little while, but passing ice cream vendors and picnicking families is a constant reminder that you could stop running at any moment and do something way more fun. There’s too much foliage and greenery to admire, too much joy. There’s no impetus to run faster; rather, the whole scene lends itself to a slow, thoughtful amble. Put $2.50 on a MetroCard, leave all cash at home, and take the train way the fuck out to the South Bronx, or Brownsville, or East New York, some shitty ass neighborhood where you’ll be an obvious target for thugs and thieves. If you’re a female, you should wear a sports bra and booty shorts; if you’re a male, slap on a Rolex and a diamond necklace. Make yourself a target. The fear of getting jumped, raped, or otherwise attacked will most certainly fill you with adrenaline, and set you on the path for a PR, even if we’re in tropical temperatures.
3) Play Frogger
Remember that episode of Seinfeld when George Costanza had to move the Frogger machine across the street through moving traffic? That’s how I like to run. I zigzag. I jump in front of cars and bikes. I remember which streets are undergoing construction and I make sure I go back there. I follow the green lights and I never stop. One of the best runs I had was from Harlem to Herald Square. I went from Riverside Drive all the way to First Avenue and back, ran up and down the stairs of the New York Historical Society, the Natural History Museum, in front of Prada and Versace, through Central Park and Grand Central. I cut diagonally through the open doors of a dollar pizza place. You’ll be so entertained
It works for lunatics.
It works for term papers.
6) Cross Train
Who said marathon training was just about running? I’m not talking about weight lifting, or taking a yoga class. I assign different mile values to different activities, and cross off a training day in accordance. For example, working back to back doubles is, in my mind, equivalent to one three or four mile run. If I spend an afternoon walking and shopping from Union Square up to Columbus Circle, I mark off two miles as RAN. If I run one day, go out that night, and get so wasted that I vomit, I take away a training day because I lost weight from throwing up. Bad sex counts as a 5k; good sex counts as a 10k. If I do drugs, which is rare, I count that as five miles because of the super accelerated heart rate. If you do all of these things in a week, you’ll only have to run, like three and a half miles outside, and you can do it on a cloudy day.
7) Quit Your Job
Having no job will beget you no money, and no amount of heat will stop you from training for something that you spent hundreds of dollars to race in. Poverty – the timeless motivator.
8) If All Else Fails, Cheat
If I’ve learned anything as an adult, especially an adult who works with and interacts with hundreds of people a week, it’s that people are lying, thieving weasels and everyone cheats. If something goes awry this summer and the training doesn’t go as I planned, I have everything worked out. I’m going to get really huge pants, and really small-wheeled electric Rollerblades. I will cross that finish line. I will be whispered about at dinner parties.