You learn a lot about yourself during marathon training. You get a good sense of your cans and can nots, dos and don’ts, how hard to push yourself and when to hold back. I wanted to share with you some of the things that I have learned over the past 6 months!
Stick to your schedule*: I had several long runs planned that never happened for several reasons – injury, bad weather, etc. But, one of the patterns I noticed was procrastinating ultimately meant that I wasn’t going to get the run done. In other words, if I woke up on Saturday and thought, ya know what? I’ll just do it tomorrow, I, more often than not, wouldn’t ever get the run in. I put the little (*) in here because, you are absolutely going to have to be flexible. Marathon training season is so long that it opens you up to a lot of variables. You could get sick, injured, go on vacation, etc. so even though you need to get those runs in, you may have to move things around a bit. However, I think if I had stuck to my schedule better, I would have gotten more runs in. There is a solid chance that all of that sounded contradictory….just go with it.
You’re going to be really tired: While taking good care of yourself should always be a priority, it quickly becomes the number one priority when you’re training. At about week 12-13 of training, you are clocking a lot of time on those feet and it carries over into your non-training time as well. I spent plenty of time sitting at my desk at work thinking JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH I AM POOPED!
Tears may be shed: Since you are putting SO much time and effort into this big day, set backs may take a bigger toll on you than you want them to. When I was on my 4th week or so of nursing my Achilles tendonitis I wanted to break down anytime I tried to do a workout that ended up being painful. I was a ball of worries that, at the end of all this, I wasn’t even going to make it to the start line. Which is where the next lesson learned comes in…
Support from friends and family will help everything: I feel incredibly blessed that not only was Bobby quite literally in this with me, but I have best friends that are marathoners that I could turn to when I needed reassurance. The amount of times I heard, Anna, you will get to marathon Monday and it will be everything you ever wanted it to be, or, I know you are in pain now, but you have plenty of time, and will be back on your feet, running, in no time, are really too many to count. Bobby wiped the anxiety filled tears from my face and ran right next to me whenever I needed him to. My parents were always quick to tell me how proud of me they were and that, in itself, was a great motivator.
If you can, run with a charity: The amount of gratitude I feel for the Miles for Miracles team almost leaves me speechless. The entire team was filled with the most loving and supportive people. My coaches, Sarah and Jeff, were a constant source of encouragement. The benefit of having coaches is that they can alleviate any worries that you may have with a quick email or phone call. They were the two people who walked me through my injury recovery and assured me that I would be fine, I would have the best race day ever, and they would make sure that’s what happened. And it did :)
You may pick up a strong addiction to fitness gear/clothes/shoes: I won’t lie to you, I have spent a lot of money since picking up running. However, I think it is easily justified. In order to keep at it, you need to be comfortable. I learned pretty damn quickly that I COULD NOT run in cotton. It makes me overheat and when I am wearing it I want to quit exercising almost as soon as I started. But, obviously, dri-fit/smart tech/sweat wicking, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT, is more expensive than cotton t-shirts but hot damn is it much lovelier to run in. Also, ya sneaks. Pretty much everything I read about running and marathoning (and believe me – I read A LOT) put a lot of emphasis on how important good running shoes is to your success as a long distance runner. I’ve invested in several pairs since I am constantly on the hunt for finding MY SHOE. But again, I find those costs easier to justify than many others.
You can achieve your goals: I declared I was going to run the Boston Marathon almost exactly one year ago. I went from not running at all to being a 5ker, 10ker, Half-Marathoner, and Marathoner in roughly 365 days. I cannot emphasize enough that if I can do this, you can. But, only if you want to. Long distance running right now has a bit of an “in” feeling to it so you have to be sure that this is something you really want to do because the amount of dedication that it requires is hardcore. I wanted to prove to myself, and no one else, that I could do this. And, I think that is why I am still so freakin’ psyched that I did it. I set one whopper of a goal and I hit it and that is extremely satisfying.