Advice to My Younger Self: What I’d Tell 14 Year Old Marc About Life and Running

What advice would you give your younger self about distance running?

Would you share only the good or would you be more critical and share some of the pitfalls you’ve experienced?

Would you remind your younger self that the running journey you’re on should be thought of like a marathon rather than a sprint?

The 9 pieces of advice I'd give my younger self
Info I’d tell my younger self about running and life

If I could go back and tell anything to my younger, running self, I’d probably clue myself in that while the highs will be really high, I’ll also have some low-points. I’d tell myself that it’s ok to take a step back, but it’s also ok to push yourself.

Armed with the knowledge I have now about training, racing, longevity, and competing, these are the 9 areas I’d focus my attention on.

Pace Myself

There’s nothing worse than going full steam ahead only to fizzle out and die off before the end. Instead, I’ve learned to back off and find that happy medium; somewhere between all-out and doing nothing. It’s been a change, but I’m happier than I’ve been in quite some time.

Run by Feel

Perceived effort isn’t just fluff, it’s a way to really think about the effort you’re putting out and how it relates to your overall state of being. Rather than relying on a watch, I rely on my breathing.

I focus on whether the effort I’m putting out is matching the effort I feel I should be putting out. My body is in harmony when the actual effort and my perceived effort match. For example, my watch might be telling me I’m running 7 minutes a mile and the effort I perceive I’m putting out relates similarly. On the flip side, if there’s a hill, I try and maintain the same effort rather than trying to hit the same mile split.  The watch and my perceived effort won’t match, so I don’t always rely on my GPS watch.

Know the Course

Literally speaking, it’s really nice to know the course I’m running. Whether it’s race day and I want to do well or have a general idea about how far away something is so I don’t head out the door for a 4-mile run and come back at 9 miles. Having awareness about my surroundings is key and this helps stay focused and determined. Sure, you may not be winning every race, but you should still want to know where you’re going.  If you’re not prepared for hills or trails, knowing the course beforehand can help you mentally and physically prepare for what lies ahead.

Metaphorically speaking, knowing the course is also important. To get my coaching business up and running, I’ve had to say yes more often than no. As I move into the second 8 years, I’ll be focusing more on only what truly moves me to say “hell yeah”. Otherwise, doing what I don’t like doing would go against the “know the course” mantra and pull me away from my goals.

Running tips and advice I'd give to my younger self
The running tips I’d give to my 15-year-old self about life and running

Be Wise About Excuses

If a run is getting away from me, there might be a good reason to cut it short. If you’re hurt or in danger of getting hurt, stop running. If, however, you’re being “soft”, try to focus on the positives and keep plugging away. Remember, once you drop out of one race, it becomes a lot easier to do it again next time things get rough.


Running is so much more than an individual sport. These days, I am always looking for ways to incorporate the social aspect of running into my own running. I would like to start warming up with someone new before a race or cooling down with friends after the race. I’d like to have more company on the easy runs I do because I know the company will give me added motivation.

Expect the Unexpected

There’s always the possibility of something going wrong.  The longer the race, the more likely that will be the case.  Yes, things can go sideways in a mile if you really let them, but chances are, they’re going to go bad over the longer race distances. One of the things I like about myself is my ability to roll with the punches, but to also be very planned and calculated. I think they work well together and I’d like to keep drawing on these two skills.


Be Mentally Tough

The more I run, the more I build up my toughness.  When things go wrong, I can call on my toughness to get me through those situations. I’ve worked on different situations and scenarios in practice so that I can put them in use during a race or a hard day teaching.

What I'd tell my younger self about what's important and what I should let slide
The advice I’d give to my younger self about running and life

Use Your Experience

I’ve seen a lot, I’ve experienced a lot and it’s important that I use these skills to help the runners I coach. I can explain to them why going out in control is beneficial to their race day success.

As a runner, I can use my race savvy skills to my advantage. I can push when I need to and chill out when I can.  I know my limits, but I’m not afraid to push the boundaries a little.

Be Happy

More than anything, happiness must shine through. When I’m happy, you’re happy. When things are going well, they’re going well for everyone.


These 9 different categories are broadly based on my thoughts and experiences working with long-distance runners. Not every category or topic will truly fit into the box of what I’d tell my younger self, but generally speaking, yes, these are things I’d tell my 14 or 15-year-old self when I first started running competitively. I’d warn him/me of the pitfalls of not having a plan or any direction. I’d remind myself that no matter what, I’d better be having fun or I won’t stick to it.

I know that they don’t all relate to running either, but at the end of the day, life isn’t all about running. Some of these relate to coaching and others to my teaching profession. All in all, they are pretty good guiding principles on how I try and live my one life.

Did you find this article helpful? Let me know by leaving a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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Gear I Love

Garmin is my go-to brand of running watches

My Favorite RUNNING gear from Amazon ⬇️
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Coach Marc does strides after easy runs to prime his legs

Current Running Shoes ⬇️
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Marc uses a massage gun to loosen up his legs

Running Recovery Gear I use daily from Amazon ⬇️
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Marc running a popup 5k in Haddonfield

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9 thoughts on “Advice to My Younger Self: What I’d Tell 14 Year Old Marc About Life and Running

  1. with running and everything else I would tell myself to” just be you”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think I would tell myself not to do too much too soon. I did my first half marathon in 2014, and I think I did 3 half marathons that year. The next year I wanted to do “15 in 2015” so i did 15 half marathons in one year ) I did it, but looking back, that was probably way too aggressive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kim at Running on the Fly October 16, 2019 — 2:06 PM

    I think it’s good for all runners to leave the Garmin at home (more often than not) and learn to run by feel. The stats (pace/splits, etc.) are fun to look over afterwards, but they shouldn’t be the driving force behind every run. Also, we all need to run our own race, and not obsess over what everyone else is doing…we all have different body mechanics and abilities (and time constraints!), it’s foolish to think we could mimic what others are doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this! Running experiences really do correlate with life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Absolutely. My confidence as a dad and adult are intricately linked to what I’ve learned from running.


  6. Totally agree. I think social media has done us (mostly runners) a huge disservice – we now feel we have to compete on daily runs just to keep up with other runner’s best selves… Instead of just doing our own work, we’re now trying to do what we may not be ready to do.


  7. Wow, that’s ambitious! Certainly a cool goal, but I wonder what you might have been able to do if you did 5 and really went all out in those 5… Just water cooler thinking. Hope all is well.


  8. Very sound advice, especially for my younger runners who I’m coaching right now.


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