Why I Ran a Solo Marathon (with no training)

The National Mall is beautiful at night or, in my case, at 3am

Why Did I Do it?

I hate running. I love challenges.

The journey to my first (and probably only) marathon began simply over a year ago with one question, one word, I sent in an email to myself:


At first, I didn’t take the challenge too seriously.

It was more of a reminder: Get in great shape, find the right opportunity, take advantage of it.

Flag Football: Apparently good for marathon training too!

Over the past 9 months, I worked out an average of 5 days per week.

Aided by the Monday/Wednesday/Friday “Push-up Club” and the Tuesday/Thursday “Ab Club” at Webs and over 50 games of co-ed flag football, I met my goal of getting in the best shape of my life by early 2015.


The occasional email to myself became a weekly recurring event. Each and every Friday in early-mid 2015, I was hit with a reminder of my failure to meet the challenge.


Summer offered a good excuse: “it’s too hot to run.” Probably a valid excuse in Washington, D.C., but an excuse nonetheless.


As the summer wound down, the possibility of running became more palpable.

I started thinking about the specifics:

Where would I run?

What time of day would I run?

When would I recover?

On September 14th, 2015, I made my decision:

I would run a marathon within the week.

And, I would run my marathon on the National Mall.

How Did I Do It?

I saw my opportunity: a relatively free weekend, mild weather, and a strong feeling that my body was ready.

Saturday, 9/16/15, would be the date. 3am would be the start time.

I was motivated. The week couldn’t go by fast enough.

On Monday and Tuesday, I did research on my route. Shout out to MapMyRun for creating an easy to use (and fun!) experience for defining my course.

The Route: 4.2 Miles * 6 laps + 2 miles round trip from home = 27.2 > Marathon

On Wednesday, I did my research on Do’s and Don’ts for marathons and purchased my supplies.

Do: Drink Gatorade (your body needs the sodium to retain water), eat every few miles, bring lots of distractions (music, podcasts, audio books)

Don’t: Wear brand new shoes, run dramatically differently, ignore signs from your body

Friday, everything became real.

I took it easy during the day and night, ate a big meal of pasta (carbo load, right?), packed my gear, and got mentally ready for the run.

Throughout the week, I told a total of 2 people about my run.

Not because I feared that I would fail, but because the challenge was my own and my motivation was purely intrinsic.

The Best Part

The best part of the run was definitely my choice of route.

There’s nothing quite like the solitary beauty and silence of our nation’s capital early in the morning. The location alone was responsible for making a few miles (a little) easier.

The Worst Part

Laps 4 and 5.

At this point, I had made it past the half-way point, but not yet reached the final lap. Even though lap 4 was relatively fast, time-wise, the prospect of 2 more laps (9 miles) was daunting.

My Marathon in Pictures

My supply kit: 3x Gatorade; 6x Odwalla Bars, Beef Jerky, Phone Holster, LED Armband, and, of course, Moisturizing Cream (thankfully not needed)
The “Base Station”
View of the Washington Monument and Capitol at 4am
Humid morning in DC, even at 5am
Crossing the finish line at 9:15am; Credit to N. Swider on the photo

The Stats (a.k.a. the least important part)

Yes, a marathon is 26.2 miles, and 1.1 + 24.3 is less, but the Human app sometimes gets a little “off-course” or thinks I’m biking
More or fewer calories than you expected?

Lap Times:

Lap 1: 46 minutes

Lap 2: 49 minutes

Lap 3: 47 minutes

Lap 4: 50 minutes

Lap 5: 60 minutes (woah!)

Lap 6: 63 minutes (double woah!)

Total: 315 minutes or 5 hours, 15 minutes

What’s Next?

There’s always another challenge out there in life.

And like this solo marathon, my next challenge will probably start with a simple message to myself:


Find More by Alex Mitchell:

Blog: https://medium.com/@Amitch5903

Twitter: @amitch5903


Check Out My Other Blog Posts:

Product @Kinsured | 5x Product Leader/Founder | Blog: medium.com/@Amitch5903 | Author: @producthandbook @disruptbook | Newsletter: bit.ly/MPMnewsletter

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