If running a marathon remains one of those unchecked resolutions year after year, three simple secrets can help you get there, Rob Aguiar says.
He should know. Six years ago, he couldn’t do “two-tenths of a mile without stopping to smoke a cigarette.” Then 35 years old, he was 50 pounds overweight, out of shape and — he worried — quickly running out of time if he didn’t make some changes.
Now he’s finished nearly 50 marathons and is the race director of the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base just outside Dayton, Ohio.
How did he do it?
1. Shut up and go
Back then, Aguiar knew he just needed to get started. “I took a few steps, which led to a slow jog. A slow jog led to a run, a run led me to believe I could run a little bit faster, and then I believed I could run a little bit longer.”
So these days when people ask him for advice on running a marathon, the former Air Force gunsmith doesn’t pull his punches.
“I tell people: ‘Stop talking about it. Don’t ask me for advice. Shut up, get out of my office, and go walk.’ Start there.”
2. Sign up
Once you’ve established a solid running base — PT365 Run Plans guru Dr. Mark Cucuzzella defines this as running for at least 30 minutes most days — one of the first things you should do next is sign up for a marathon. As Aguiar puts it: “You’ve got to commit.”
There’s something powerful inside of you, he says, that unlocks once you’ve laid down some cash and registered for a race.
That’s why when he decided to compete in not just one but two swim-bike-run Ironman races this year — a full and a half — he spent nearly $1,000 in no-refund registration fees “well before” he was ready to do the races. And he means well before.
“Here’s the thing: I don’t know how to swim,” he says. “Or at least as of last June I didn’t.”
Now he’s racking up a few miles in the pool every morning before work.
“That’s the reason I signed up for it — because when you mentally and financially commit, you’re in. You’re not going to back out.”
3. Pick a program, stick with it
“What’s important is finding something that works for you,” Aguiar adds.
Things to consider: how much time you can train through the week, how long until the race, what are your goals — to just finish? Do pretty well? Win?
“Just be honest with yourself. Every day, you want to be able to check off your goals.”
Also, consider talking to the folks at your local running store or someone in your unit. He says you can probably find a coach, mentor and maybe even a running partner to help keep you motivated.
He’s glad he did. “When you cross that finish line, it changes your life,” he says.
“In the end, running that first marathon helped me be not only a better runner, a better coworker, but it’s also certainly helped me be a better father and a husband,” he says.
His self-confidence is up, the cigarettes and extra weight are now gone for good, and he says he feels like a new man.
“I feel really good about who I am now.”