super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others

Marathon training like the underpants gnomes



The February issue of Runner’s World arrived in my letterbox last week with a painful reminder that the marathon is really close. Wonder if it’s too late to change my entry to that 2.2k option.

I know this is probably the weirdest blog post title I’ve ever posted on here but, as usual, I ask you to bear with me.

I’ve got a marathon to run in about a month and a half. Just under 7 weeks to be sort of precise. I can’t be any more precise because that involves counting the days until March 3 and I am really scared of doing that. If you know how many to go, don’t tell me.

I’ve been doing my little runs and every time S. and I run together we tell each other we “really need to get onto that Google Docs spreadsheet and come up with a plan”. Then a few days go by, we meet up for another run and we remind ourselves that, gee, “we really have to get onto that Google Docs spreadsheet and come up with a plan”. I mean, considering we’ve never run 42.2k in our entire lives and we’ve just come out of an indulgent holiday season, we should probably have a plan. Yeah, we really need to get onto that Google Docs spreadsheet and come up with a plan.

Tomorrow, maybe.

An article on Nerd Fitness* today talks about “crucial mistakes newbies make trying to get healthy”. After gasping at the realisation that I’ve been doing this shit for quite some time now but still make most of those mistakes, I realised that one of them, in particular, is the perfect description of my current situation.

The article mentions a classic South Park episode with underpants gnomes who collect people’s underpants as phase 1 of a 3 phase plan. Phase 3 is profit but they have no idea what phase 2 is.


You’re smart people, otherwise you wouldn’t be here, so you get where I’m going with this. When it comes to marathon training, I’m a freaking underpants gnome.

Now that I think about it, I have a phase 3 (cross the finish line in New Plymouth on March 3), but I barely have a phase 1 and I definitely don’t have a phase 2. I’ve been running as much as possible I feel like but I haven’t exactly been training.

Some might say “well, all those runs count as training”. You’re not wrong, whoever you are. But those are only a very small part of the training. And that’s pretty much the only part I’ve been doing.

I effectively have 7 weeks to quit aimlessly bagging small runs like the gnomes bagged underpants and actually come up with a proper plan that will lead to profit finishing that marathon (preferably without collapsing, but I realise I may be asking too much at this stage).

I need to outline mileage and make changes to my routine (more sleep, less coffee, better food), just like I did the last time I trained for something properly. Most of all, I have 7 weeks to change my attitude and get back into the “I can totally do this” mindset that I got into before that 35k trail run last year. To this day, I’m pretty sure that it was my mental preparation that got me through that race, more than any physical training.

So, yeah. We really need to get onto that Google Docs spreadsheet and come up with a plan. A scarily short plan.


* Bookmark this site for the awesome star wars + lego images, visit regularly for the kickass content.


21 thoughts on “Marathon training like the underpants gnomes

  1. Loved this! Just make your goal to finish! Love the blog!

  2. I realize that my stance is rare and it’s not recommended for everyone, but I never had a plan other than run….and run some more. I’ve run more than one marathon this way, in addition to many ultras. Each one has improved in time and distance. If just finishing is the goal then it sounds like you might be ok. Our bodies are really capable of a lot! Now if you want a specific finish time, that might be different. Either way…plan or no plan, just run and enjoy the race πŸ™‚

  3. You can do it! Glad I’m not the only one getting ready for a marathon! Your race will be before mine by a month, yet so far, I’ve had the audacity to think of a ‘qualifier time'(Which may be tantamount to insanity!). “The training is the work and the race is the celebration.”-(Not sure who I saw that wrote this, but highly encouraging!)

  4. How far has your longest training run been!? You should check out Hal Higdon’s marathon plan! I followed his plan for my first marathon and I felt really prepared! I just recently followed his half marathon plan and I PRed by 10 mins!

    • I’m way far from marathon-ready, but I’ve heard good things here and there about HH, too- might be worth checking out!! Fun post, btw:)

    • Oh- and kick ass on crushing the old PR, dorseyml!!

    • Hmm, I guess a half marathon at the end of November although I wasn’t really really training then. Since then, only 16k. This is why I’m starting to think I should be worried. But on the other hand, I have been running frequently and have a (very slow) 32k in mind (maybe…) for this weekend. I’ll check that plan out, thanks!

      • don’t be worried… You still have time! check out the plan and get a couple long runs in. I always like to do 5 mile easy runs during the week. And then my longest run in marathon training is a 21 miler. This helps because the marathon is 26.2 miles, so when I run the race I know I can do 21, (because I did it during training) And then once I get to mile 21 during the race, I tell myself, oh cool, only 5 more miles, its my 5 mile easy run, then I’m done…” Physically you are there, but mental tricks like this get you too the finish line! Hope this helps. You’ll do great!!

      • It helps a lot, thank you! I sort of adopted that strategy when I entered a 35k trail last year. I divided it in stages and the final one was only a 5k and I kept telling myself “only 5k to go, you run 5k all the time, no biggie”. πŸ™‚

  5. You can do it! I would live to hear the plan or see it once its compiled. I’m a 5k runner but want to plan a half marathon later this year and have zero clue on where I should start.

  6. HAHAHAHA- that’s too funny. I now imagine you as a tiny little running gnome when I read your blog. That’s freaking awesome.

    Anyhoo, I’ve got to say the no-plan approach is also a plan. I mean, you prolly should maybe definitely plan out those next 6-7 long runs but, as you say, it really is mental. You can think of it as a “practice” marathon and then pick another in the future to *really* train for… you WILL cross the finish line, maybe not as fast as if you’ve been training for 6 months, but you WILL finish.

    Go Girl. I mean Go Gnome.

  7. I just first want to say thank you!!! And then say I’m sorry for my complete and utter misuse of the English language because you are a goddess when it comes to composing a sentence! Most of all though I want to say thank you again I know the chances are slim that you will read this but it needs to be said. You are a true inspiration! You have instilled renewed inspiration in me with your post the day I became a marathoner. . I’ve never been a runner I’m actually what one would classify as a sloth. I’m athletic but long periods of mindless running has never appealed to me and I’ve never had the drive to do it. I use the excuse It hurts to much quite often so every time I would try I would give up and then go home and think I could have tried harder. But that post has given me new inspiration!! If you can overcome tb and push through and run a marathon then what’s stopping me from getting off the couch and changing my life. So i realize that I just completely went off into an unnecessary ramble while I type all of this out on my phone to say thank you for being an inspiration and quite possibly changing my life

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