What I learned from marathon training

Marathon training occupied much of my life from February until September.  That is a really long time.  During that time, I ran 776.33 miles.  I completed 11 races (5 mile, 6 mile, 8K, 20K, half marathon, 10K, 5K [PR], 5K, 5K, half marathon, marathon).

So, here is a brief recap of what I learned about myself over those hundreds of miles.

1.  I can do a lot more than I give myself credit for.  Before starting this crazy endeavor, I never would have thought it possible for me to run a half marathon, to say nothing about doubling that distance!  But, when I put my mind to something, I can accomplish a lot.

2.  I am stubborn.  I guess I knew this before marathon training, but it was certainly reinforced.  There were some training runs where I just had to grit my teeth and get through it.  It wasn’t pretty.  It wasn’t pleasant.  But life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.

3.  I learned to listen to my body.  I had a couple minor injuries during my training.  It started with a bout of plantar fasciitis in March and led up to the horrible hip pain that started in the spring and got progressively worse through the summer.  Sometimes, I had to cut a run short.  Sometimes I had to skip a run.  And you know what?  I’m still here!  I still finished my marathon.  The earth is still going around the sun.  Basically, the world did not come to a crashing halt because I had to shorten some runs.  And since the marathon, I’ve been dealing with some pain in my left foot that has kept me from running for 10 days (and counting), but I’m okay with that and the running will come when it does.

4. It doesn’t matter what I eat before a run, I’m going to have to use the bathroom.  I tried oatmeal.  I tried Clif bars.  I tried toast.  I tried bananas.  I tried cereal.  I tried fruit.  I would have eaten my hand if I thought it would have made a difference.  Nothing worked.  My GI tract just doesn’t like to be jostled.  And running causes jostling.  And jostling causes bathroom breaks.  I am very thankful that I have a bathroom in the basement very near my treadmill.

5.  Training for a marathon requires scheduling and prioritizing.  I had my daily mileage written down in my planner.  If my work schedule changed or if child care arrangements changed, or if the weather changed, I would have to revamp my training schedule.  I spent part of each week looking ahead and scheduling my runs for the following week.  There were days I was up before 5:00 to get my miles in before the weather got too warm.  There were days I had to run in the evenings after a long day at work.  But, the marathon became one of my priorities and I worked to make my runs happen.

6.  Running is addictive.  I hated my life if I had to go more than two days without running (i.e. when injured).  I wanted that feeling of working hard and accomplishing something.  Part of it might have been my Type A personality that wanted to cross my run off my to-do list.  But, running gives you a high that few other things can emulate.  I always felt better after a run.  And I craved that feeling.

7.  Running is contagious.  When I started training for my marathon, Tim didn’t run.  Since then, he has run three 5K races, a 10K training run and is considering a half marathon!  Jaden has run two races…and has the medals to prove it.  I feel like my crazy idea to run a marathon has made my entire family healthier.

8.  Running breeds community.  I joined DailyMile and I get to keep up on what other people are doing in their training and what races they are gearing up for.  I get to go to races and meet people…and see them again at the next race.  I got to meet up with other runners in a fun blogger get together!  I can find people to compare training tips with and encourage in their next race, just as they encourage me in mine.  I received so much love and support through facebook during my marathon.  It was awesome to read!

9.  Running allows me to travel.  Even though the races I go to are mostly local, I get to Madison a few times a year, which allows me the opportunity to stay at my aunt’s house and enjoy her wonderful cooking and hospitality.  She is also the BEST race fan ever!  She looks over the course maps with me and picks out places where she can cheer me on and hand me bottles of water.

10.  My body needs rest.  Maybe it is because I’m type A, but I tend to go, go, go all the time.  I never really stop because there is always something that needs to be done (you know it’s true!).  But my body craved rest days after my long runs and races.  Even if it just meant an extra 20 minutes of sleep the next day, or an easy jog rather than a tough training run, I know that I need to let my body recover from a strenuous run.  I’m sure this would apply to the rest of my life as well, but I’ll probably never slow down long enough to find out if it’s true.

11.  Never say never.  During my marathon training, I told everyone that this was my one chance to cross this goal off my bucket list.  Marathon training is hard and it is really time consuming.  I can’t imagine trying to fit in training while have two kids to look after and a job and school work.  But I know that it works for other people.  So, even though I said I would never run another marathon, I’ll keep the option open.  After all, I also said I would never be pregnant again, and we all know how that is working out for me.  🙂

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One thought on “What I learned from marathon training

  1. way to go! that’s some major mileage!!!
    i’ve definitely felt lots of these things, but it was much easier for you to put them into words for me. =)
    congrats on all of the races, and finishing your marathon!

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