Marine Corps Marathon Notebook: Rob Riggle’s advice to runners


Actor and Marine Rob Riggle will serve as an honorary starter of the 37th Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Marine Corps Marathon)

It’s almost here. The Marine Corps Marathon is right around the corner. Rather than give you some of my own advice, I thought I’d get some tips from actor and Marine Rob Riggle, who will serve as an honorary starter at this year’s race.

In addition to being an actor and comedian, Riggle is also a Marine Corps reservist.  During his more than 22-year military career, Riggle has been deployed to Afghanistan, Albania, Kosovo and Liberia.

We spoke over the phone earlier this week. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: Do you prefer Mr. or Lt. Col. Riggle?

A: (laughs) I guess technically I’m both, but you can call me Rob.

Q: What does it mean to kick-off the start of the race?

A:  It’s a great honor. I was thrilled that they asked me. It’s nice to be asked to partake in a flagship event like this and I was flattered and honored and I’m looking forward to coming in and doing it.

Q: Have you ever run Marine Corps Marathon before?

A: I’ve never run the Marine Corps Marathon. I ran the New York City Marathon in 2002 right when I got back from Afghanistan. It went fine considering I didn’t get in the long training runs that I probably needed to. I did ok. I wasn’t breaking any records but I completed it. I finished around 5 hours. The longest run I had done up until then was 14 or 15 miles so it was a game day thing. But I knew I could do 26 miles because I had done it at the basic school when I was a young second lieutenant. We had one of our biggest marches of 26 miles and you do it overnight with all your gear. So I knew my legs had carried my body 26 miles at one point in my life so I felt confident I would complete it.

Q: Do you have any tips for runners participating in the Marine Corps Marathon?

A: Go to the bathroom often and early. You want to write your name on your shirt because when you’re running it’s nice when people see you and they yell your name, ‘C’mon Rob! C’mon Rob!’ They encourage you. You’ll be surprised how much that actually means to you around mile 17. It’s a good uplifting thing so put your name on you somewhere.  Cover your nipples. You’ve got to cover them up. Maybe a little Vaseline on your thighs. Drink water every other water stop, not every water stop.

Q: Any warnings for runners?

A: When the marathon starts, everybody’s adrenaline is pumping. I don’t care who you are, you end up running that first mile with a six-minute pace, maybe even a sub-six-minute pace. If you can just enjoy that first mile instead of burning it out, you might have a more enjoyable race.

Q: What are you most looking forward to?

A: I’m looking forward to hanging out with Marines. My wife is coming with me and she’s going to run the shorter race. I’m looking forward to spending time in Washington, D.C., meeting Marines and meeting runners.

Q: What’s your advice for runners when 26.2 miles starts to get tough?

A: Don’t think about the pain, think about the finish line. I do what I like to call taking a mind vacation. Just think about anything else than your legs or lungs. I would think about how awesome it was going to be to finish, how cool it would feel to get the medal saying I ran and completed a marathon. I think about my next vacation.



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  1. I will be running the 38th Annual ‘Marine Corps Marathon’ this year to raise money on behalf of the American Heart Assoc. and the American Cancer Society. I need a time of just under three hours for maximum charitable donations from my sponsors, although I am able to raise 58% of that just by finishing the race. This is one of the best organized Marathons, and a great field of runners will be assembled on race day. The Marine Corps Marathon is among the top five marathons in the nation in terms of total number of registrants. The race has the best organization behind it, and the racers are some of the most dedicated runners that you are likely to ever meet. Good luck everyone, and have fun!

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