Since race day, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I took away from running a
crazy long race
I RAN A MARATHON!
And like many people have told me, most people don’t do that. So yes, I am proud. Here’s what I took away from the whole process.
1. Running is hard. Okay, before you say, duh – just let me explain. Before I was a runner, I just thought “Some people are good at running; some people aren’t.” And I was definitely in the camp of “not good at running.” But now, three half-marathons and a full marathon later – do I feel like I’m any better at running?
Well, I run more. I am a little faster but not “fast.” Do my runs breeze by with ease every time? No. Running will always feel hard. I may get better at it and improve with time, but it’s not like one day I’ll wake up and just think running is as easy as eating cake (that will always be easier!).
2. Running is my sanity. At first, I hated it. But racing helped me love it. Races have provided tangible goals for me to keep myself running. And because I have consistently run for a while now, it’s like free therapy. I don’t need anything or anyone. It’s just me, a nice route, and my thoughts. And sometimes, I leave the thoughts at the door and just go. Running is the only time I can truly not think and just relax.
3. Fancy running socks actually work. And I swear by them now. I absolutely love my PRO Compression socks and Feetures!. I wore Feetures! for the marathon and PRO Compression after. #addicted Just try them.
4. Not everyone understands running. And that’s okay. Sometimes, I mention something running related and people immediately say “I hate running! Why do you do that? I could never do that!” Not exactly the response I want to “I just ran a marathon.” But I’ll forgive them since I’m sure I was once one of those people too. I believe that unless someone has experienced what running can give them or see what it does to someone else they know very well, it’s pretty hard for the non-runner to relate to the runner.
5. Doing “weird” or “gross” things suddenly becomes acceptable on runs. Peeing in the woods, snot rockets, spitting – whatever else you can think of. It’s all okay out there on the field. I never used to be okay with these things. Whatever!
6. I can’t eat the Espresso Love flavored GUs anymore. I bought a case at the beginning of training. I like GUs still, but because I got so many of that one flavor, I OD’d on it. Can’t even look at one of those again!
7. I’m my own competition. There is no room for comparison when running. I can compare up and down all day long about speed, form, how many races someone has run, and on and on, but it’s not worth it to me.
When I’m out there running and I see someone else, I smile because they are out there “with me” even if I have no idea who they are. They are not my competition. Being “the best” isn’t important because someone will always be better than me, but being my best is important because I can improve on what I’ve done in the past.
8. Getting medals for things is pretty cool, so I think I’ll keep doing it. Need I say more?
9. I got over hating the treadmill. It really didn’t warm up in Boston until the very end of my training. All my long runs were done in winter gear and most my weekly runs were done on the treadmill. I got over my hate of that thing fast. The fact that I had a way to run at all when there was a foot of snow on the ground was actually a really good thing, despite it’s dreadmill-ness. I still don’t prefer it of course, but I will tolerate it.
10. Running together is better. Training for this race with my husband and best friend was the best thing I could have done. Sure, I may have been able to do it alone, but having other runner’s and friend’s support along the way who could relate to what I was going through was amazing for my first marathon. Now I feel confident that I could train for a marathon solo in the future.
11. It wasn’t as long as I thought it would be. On long runs, I was always nervous as I got into higher mileage. 16 miles today? Gulp. It was nerve-wracking to wonder if I could do it since I had never done it before. But once I was past about the 14 mile point on each of those runs, it wasn’t as if the last part of it killed me. I just zoned out and it never felt like OMG that was the longest run ever. Until…
12. It was longer than I thought it would be. The actual race seemed to drag a little bit, and I’m not sure why. Toward the end, I was like seriously, this is still going on? Mentally, I wore out a lot faster because I had pumped myself up so much at the beginning. By the end, my mental (and physical) capacity was reached, making it feel like it was going on too long.
13. After trying both, I still prefer to run without music. I did run with music for race day as a distraction, but if I’m going out for a 3 mile loop around my neighborhood, I’ll never be listening to music. See #2 again.
14. Training for a marathon didn’t get me in the best shape of my life. I had pretty high hopes that training for the marathon would totally transform my body from head to toe. Runner’s World does a pretty good job of convincing me that the runner’s body = amazing.
However, this being my first marathon and my life being totally busy throughout the training process, all I really had time for was running. Strength training fell to the way-side most weeks. I was too exhausted to do anything else anyway. It was a huge life adjustment. But running alone does not give you shapely abs or amazing arms. Yeah, my legs are pretty legit right now, but that’s about it!
15. The foam roller and I are besties for life. #rollitout
16. I can do more than I ever thought I could. Obvious in this case, but so profound since I didn’t come from a running background or an athletic history. I said I would never run a marathon. Heck, I said I’d never run for most of my life. So for those many long runs, each one proved to me that I can do more. I am capable. Running has given that to me – trust in myself that I can. That’s called confidence.
17. Yoga is amazing. Yoga balanced me out during training and still does. I always liked yoga but I never really needed it until now. Something about doing yoga throughout training helped me feel centered again, connected with my body more, and strong.
A once a week good long session is enough to keep me chilled out and keep my muscles loose (along with regular post-workout stretching throughout the week t00).
18. I have a more positive, can-do mindset. It’s pretty hard to go through something like marathon training with a negative I can’t do it attitude. Trust me – that will get you nowhere fast! After a really long run though, it’s a lot easier to view things in life as not that hard. Running long distances changed my attitude. I went from not too sure I could do it, to doing it, to done. That built confidence in me in other areas in my life too. When faced with a problem, I am more likely to trudge on instead of sit there and say I can’t now.
19. You can never have too many workout clothes. Never.
20. I have to be my own biggest fan sometimes. Along with #4, not everyone is going to be my personal cheerleader. I learned that I don’t need someone else to pat me on the back. Instead, I can be proud of myself. This is another way that running changed my mindset. Instead of wanting so much approval from others, I look inward and approve of myself.
21. Prayer got me through. Sometimes, I really felt like I was on the verge of stopping (on long runs and at the race) as if I couldn’t go on any more. In those moments, I clung to the Lord and imagined Jesus running this race with me, like he does in life and in my runs. Running is just another thing I don’t do very well, but God has blessed me enough to get through it with Him. Running is one more way that I have been given the opportunity to grow closer to Him.
22. The marathon is not for everyone. I loved it; my husband was not the biggest fan. And that’s okay. Some people love races; others would rather just run solo all the time. Neither is right or wrong. Both are just as good. I fall into the camp of loving it. But I could also see how someone could do this and think Never again! It all depends on what motivates you, I think.
23. The right pair of shoes is more important in running than any other thing I do. Having poor footwear choices or just old shoes hurts – literally. Pounding the pavement takes a toll not just on your feet but your entire body. Your shoes are kind of like tires for a car – they’re the only thing between you and the road.
Furthermore, those shoes don’t have to be “the” running shoes that are in right now. Those Reebok’s pictured at the top are not something you’re going to see in “top running shoe” articles. But I love them. I tried many name brand “good” running shoes but got no where. Rule of thumb: listen to your feet, not the word on the street.
24. Finishing is more important than pace/time. I don’t run for speed to begin with, but of course, speed is a factor of running races. At the end of the marathon, I knew that it took me 5 hours which just sounded kind of ridiculous for some reason. But I still ran 26 miles. I was able to finish. And that is more than enough.
25. It was worth it. All the weekends of long runs taking of most of my time, all the blisters, all the hours spent pounding the pavement, all the nasty GUs I ate, all the time I spent thinking of things I could be doing other than running, all the stretching afterward, all the running. In the end, it was totally worth it to cross the finish line and say I did it. And on that note…
26. I am worth it. Running has taught me that I am stronger, faster, better, and worth so much more than I thought. Training is hard. But saying I’m not worth it is harder. I am worth the effort it takes to get me across the finish line!
And the point 2: I would run another one!
Questions for You:
- Runners: What has running taught you?
- Someday-runners (there are no “non-runners” in my book!): How has running changed someone you know?