On June 12th, 2016, my boyfriend, Mat, and I ran a marathon. Months before the event, we spoke to fellow runners who’ve run just about every race except the big 42.2 km. With each conversation, our expectations for the race slowly faded away. Come race day we were just hoping to finish the race alive. It was cold, wet and rained for most of the day. The course was hilly, lonesome at times and had a monstrous ascent in the last mile.

Despite my partner’s slight nerve-induced intestinal discomfort, we ran a smooth, even-paced race. I ran a time of 4:21:40 and Mat came in 5 seconds later – much to his disappointment and to my gloating. We ran the entire race without walking breaks, were never out of breath and remained injury-free. For having barely trained (the most we’d run was a half-marathon one or twice) and being largely inconsistent runners, how is it possible that we successfully ran a marathon with decent times?

Over justified pints of beer, Mat and I spent that entire evening contemplating the possible answers to this question and came up with this one:

To run a marathon, you need to do 2 things:

1. Start running.

2. Keep running.

That’s it. I know this sounds obvious, but that’s basically all we did. As long as you run (or walk) at a comfortable pace, you’ll be on track to complete the full race without stopping.

Once you learn to be comfortable with the pain that accompanies pounding the pavement, learn to eat and drink while running and download a motivating playlist, it’s all in your head. Listen, running for over 4 hours is by no means easy, but it doesn’t have to be excruciating.

If running (or walking) a marathon is something that you’ve always wanted to do, go ahead and do it. Don’t let the distance, competition or, worst of all, other people scare you out of the race. Finally, good luck to all future marathoners!

Read next: Why I chose to run 42.2 km

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