How to Run a Marathon Without Training

Below is an actual conversation that occurred at mile one of the San Fransisco Marathon between and random guy and the 3:50 pacer.

“Is the 8:55, 8 hours and 55 minutes?” He asked. He wore a Nike windbreaker and basketball shorts. He was tall and spoke with an accent.

“Uh, the marathon has a cutoff of six hours. It’s a 8 minute and 55 pace for a mile.” The pacer answers kind of confused.

“Oh got it.” He said, “so how far is this race anyway?”

“It’s a marathon. Did you start the wrong race?”

“No I’m signed up see, I got this paper they told me to pin to my shirt.” He motioned to his back. “How far is a marathon?” The guy asked.

“It’s 26.2 miles.” The pacer snarked, pretty annoyed.

“Fuck.” He said as he stopped running.


July 29, 2018 was the 41st San Fransisco Marathon, and my first time running it. I’ve ran marathons before and I was super excited to be running one on the west coast… with one small caveat, I didn’t really train for this.

I was planning running it for a couple months, but didn’t have the will to actually train, so I didn’t. On Friday afternoon I worked the expo at the Nuun both and when Stephen asked me how my training went I had to say it didn’t. Stephen told me, so the marathon is more about survival then huh? And that was the theme of it.

So how do you run a marathon without training for it?

1. A good base helps.

First of all when I say “without training” I was running. 3 weeks prior I won an 18 mile trail race, and was averaging 30 miles a week with 10 or 12 miles as my long run. While you don’t necessarily get those higher mileage runs in, you’re still moving your body and capable of running.

2. Throw out any expectation of a PR or goal.

Unless your goal is to see how many margaritas you can drink on course. Without training you won’t hit your PR I promise.

In the back of my head I had a 4 hour goal. But after my third bathroom stop that went out the window. I wasn’t too upset because I already knew that I didn’t put in the effort to get that out of it. You can’t cheat the marathon.

3. Talk to people around you.

It helps you get through. One of the guys next to me was running his 47th marathon and he was struggling as well, but we both just had to finish, that was our objective. Another lady I was taking to was running her 3rd marathon. She took up running to escape her kids for a little. She was a great distraction from the task at hand.

4. Be a tourist.

You’re getting a 26.2 mile tour of wherever you’re running!!! In my case I got to run over the Golden Gate Bridge, how cool is that! That bridge is an icon and I got to see it at mile 8, then a few miles later I got the a coastline view through golden gate park. Yeah, I took in every sight seeing opportunity I could!

If this isn’t the best recap of my race I don’t know what is

5. Have fun with it!

I stopped at every beer station there was with no regrets. I went out of my way to high five kids. I took some watermelon. Mimosa?! Don’t mind if I do. Donut? sure if your offering!

People will literally give you the shirt off their back during a marathon, I’m not saying abuse this power I’m saying have fun with it. I graciously thanked every last person who handed out anything!

6. “Step one to running a marathon: you run. There is no step two.” -how I met your mother.

Just run. Smile. There’s no secret. If your only objective is to finish just keep moving until you get there.

Keep in mind what worked for me may not work for everyone. I’ve ran several marathons before this and I know what my body can take. Feel free to call me crazy!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s