I've run a bunch of marathons before but never tried to run one before work. Until last week!
The idea was planted in my mind years ago when I read a blog post by one of my ultra running heroes Davy Crockett. Just for fun, just for a unique challenge, he woke up really early one day and ran a marathon before work. (I remember him saying that he did this when his wife was out of town so she wouldn't be able to tell him he was an idiot.) This guy takes conventional wisdom and throws it out the window.
Choosing to run a marathon was a spontaneous decision. The day before this I woke up early and ran a beautiful 10 miles before work while witnessing one of the most beautiful sunrises I've seen in years.
Had I been planning to run a marathon the next day I wouldn't have done 10 miles. But seeing the sun rise over Zion National Park was something I didn't regret.
So while I was driving home that evening I thought it might be a good day to try the Marathon Before Work. I felt like my training was at a level where I'd probably be okay getting in a spontaneous marathon. Should you choose to do this yourself, I have some tips.
HOW TO RUN A MARATHON BEFORE WORK
1) START RUNNING AT 1:00AM
You need to make sure you finish with enough time to get ready for work. Spoiler alert: when you go to bed at 10:00pm then wake up three hours later to run a marathon, the sound of your alarm clock might make you start crying.
2) TAKE A DEET SHOWER
Bug spray with at least 40% DEET for me. Mosquitoes look at me like a pre-teen girl looks at Justin Bieber. Clearly they like blood that is 72% frosting. Don't start running until you have sprayed so much bug spray that your legs glisten.
3) COOL TEMPERATURES ARE OVERRATED
Live in a climate that, even at 1:00am, resembles running in a sauna while wearing sweat pants. Because if it doesn't feel like you are running on molten lava you're doing something wrong.
4) FIND A GOOD ROUTE
I ran a loop around the city that was around 8 miles, stopping back at my house twice to refill my pack.
5) HAVE GOOD ENTERTAINMENT / GOOD GEAR
It could get a little boring running by yourself for hours in the dark. I had some Ultra Runner Podcast, Trail Runner Nation, and Radio Lab podcasts to keep me occupied. I used the UltrAspire Omega pack, fueled with Tailwind and a Butterfinger, and wore Altra Torin shoes for the first time ever on a long run. These may have become my go-to road shoes. After many hours and a few times nodding off to sleep while running you'll see a hint of sunlight. You will feel very happy!
6) DON'T MAKE EYE CONTACT
As the sun comes up, don't make eye contact with passing drivers. Between the bug spray on your face and sweat dripping into your eyes, it will look like you are crying. An advantage of running a solo marathon is that you don't have spectators lying to you. "You are almost there!" LIE!!! "You're looking good." LIE!!! It's best to just avoid human contact.
7) YOU DID IT!
If you keep a conservative but steady pace, eventually you will reach 26.2 miles. (This time isn't completely accurate. I stopped my watch both times when I stopped to refill my pack and enjoy air conditioning for a few minutes.)
8) YOU BETTER DO A CELEBRATION JUMP
Congrats on finishing a marathon! A celebration jump is definitely in order.
9) NOW YOU GET TO GO TO WORK
Now that you have 26.2 miles on your legs and three hours of sleep, take a quick shower, get dressed, and head out for a full day at work. On your way there stop at a gas station and purchase the biggest Dr. Pepper money can buy. Because yeah. You're going to need it.