Disclaimer: I don't recommend anyone try this but I also try not to tell people what to do/not do, so read, train/don't train at your own risk. The human body is an amazing thing and you know yours better than anyone else so listen to it and do what you wish.
I ran a marathon on Sunday with virtually no training and not only did I finish, but also found it to be quite enjoyable. You might find yourself saying, "Congratulations, Why do I care?" and to that I would simply say, maybe you don't, in which case, stop reading now, but for those who take an interest in endurance events or are considering a marathon themselves, I thought I'd write a little bit about the experience as it may serve as an interesting case study. If nothing else it is certainly a debate I've heard before, "Do you think you could run a marathon without training?". It's one of those rhetorical questions that never really gets answered, something no one can really confirm or deny, so I'll lay out the facts of how this went down and describe how it felt for anyone training for a marathon or anyone having this debate who needs closure.
Let's start with a little background info:
I have wanted to run a full marathon for a while now, I have always been attracted to these endurance events that test your body and more importantly, test your mind. I believe that most people can gain a lot from completing one (any kind 5K, Ironman, whatever) and more people should do them. It's an easy way to remind yourself how good setting a goal and accomplishing it feels. Everyone is an athlete, the problem is most people forget this after they graduate high school and have no more games to be played or races to be won. Competition is a critical part of life and endurance events are an easy opportunity to remain a competitive athlete for the rest of your life.
Endurance races have not always been a passion of mine, I didn't grow up dreaming of marathons and triathlons, rather my racing days began out of a desire to out-run two 50 year old ladies. I was 19 and fully immersed in the college lifestyle, working out was not a priority but I still fancied myself an athlete. My mom called one day and told me that she had signed up for her first half marathon with her running partner; I immediately replied back with "I'll do it". I didn't even know how long a half marathon was but I figured if my mother could do it then I should be able to do it too, and I should probably be able to do it faster. Lucky for me, I could and did, however, it wasn't pretty, I was totally shot by the finish line and struggled the whole way. I hated every second of it and thought I would never do it again.
I stayed away for a while, but I couldn't stay away forever, my racing history now includes a little bit of everything, sprint triathlons, half Ironman, half marathon, century bike ride etc. I have a little experience in a lot of different events and have come to enjoy the hours of discomfort that they bring. That being said, my list didn't include a full marathon yet, and I was getting antsy to try something new. My intention was to sign up for a full in the fall and train for it throughout the summer until my roommate told me last Wednesday (April 8), that he was running a half marathon on Sunday (April 12) that started right outside our door.
It seemed like the perfect opportunity to run a half and get serious for marathon training, but then the thought of trying the full quickly crept into my head. The fact is, anyone can run a marathon, literally anyone, if they follow a proper training program and even more, most people can probably predict their finish time within 10 minutes if they train diligently. I couldn't resist the opportunity to try something different, to really push myself and see if I could finish the full marathon on 3 days notice. Doing a half again really didn't interest me, the next goal had already been set and it was a full, I couldn't stand the thought of running a half again and realizing I could have gone further at the finish line. The final straw was the fact that the full was only $10 more than the half; they were virtually the same price, it was settled, I was doing the full marathon in 3 days.