When I signed up for the Baltimore Marathon last year, I had no idea what I was in for. In comparison, training for a half-marathon is nothing. Marathon training is a whole new ballgame, and it’s taken time for my body and mind to adapt.
They’re finally getting there, though. Two weekly 5-mile runs along with two weekly 8-mile runs no longer seems daunting; running over 15 miles no longer seems impossible. I’m getting stronger and learning more about my body.
However, there’s a lot that I didn’t expect, and I wish I had known some of it beforehand.
Things no one told me before I started training for a marathon:
My jeans wouldn’t fit after a few weeks of training.
You read that right, and it’s not because I’ve gained unwanted weight. If I have gained weight, it’s all muscle. My quadriceps are giant beasts now, and my double zero skinny jeans and jeggings can no longer contain them. My jeans can barely reach my mid calf without a fight because, yes, my calves have grown, too! Once my jeans are on, they barely button in the front. Apparently all my hip hikes, side-lying leg lifts and clamshells made my waist more prominent. Don’t even ask me to bend or squat down once the jeans are on — they would rip!
I had to buy all new jeans in size zero because not even super stretch double zero jeans would do the trick. I know what you’re thinking: I shouldn’t complain about graduating from a size double zero to a size zero, but hear me out. It’s a blow to your self-esteem when jeans that fit you for years no longer do, especially when you’re running almost every day.
I didn’t know that going down this road would require an expensive wardrobe overhaul. Add it on to the race fee! I had a mini panic attack when I tried on all my pairs with no success.
I would learn what it was like for EVERY part of my body to be sore at some point.
I have woken up the morning after a long run to aches all over my body from my upper back or lower back to my calves and Achilles tendons. I also discovered what a Peroneal tendon was because, you guessed it, I woke up to that hurting, too.
I just need to switch my major to biology so I can learn the anatomy of the entire human body! Then I’ll no longer have to awkwardly rephrase my pain descriptions over and over until my Google searches return the correct body part (which is usually one I never even knew existed).
Running would become one of those part-time jobs that calls you in for extra shifts all the time to the point where it’s almost a full-time job.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew that marathon training would take up a large amount of time. I didn’t realize, though, that I had to be beyond strict about strength training, stretching, foam rolling and cross training in order to avoid injury. I’ve had a few close calls in terms of injuries over the summer, and each time I’ve been reminded of my need to stick to a stringent routine.
When the days get busy, it’s exhausting to realize that I still need to do strength exercises or foam roll!
There would be days and even weeks where I would hate running with a passion.
When my training reached it’s peak at a half-marathon, I was ready to never run again. I had to run 15 miles less than a week after racing that half-marathon, and during all 15 miles I felt like I was going to vomit, cry and die all at once. It took me about three weeks to get out of that slump and not want to bury myself under the covers when my morning alarm rang, signaling the start of another day and another morning run.
But I’m really glad I stuck it out. I made it over the plateau and have pushed my body to run previously unimaginable distances.
Runner’s World only gives you the successful marathon stories about how running a marathon transformed someone’s life. The magazine never mentions the true love/hate relationship that will develop when training for a marathon or just how strong the hate part can be.
That I’ll make it to the finish line and will actually run 26.2 miles in a row.
Well, I guess my fiance and my father have both told me this, but it used to be very difficult to believe. This was something I could never tell myself until I successfully ran 17 miles without collapsing. That was when I realized I would be running a marathon, and I would be finishing it, too.
Even with a positive mindset I don’t think I could’ve told myself this in the beginning. I had to let my body prove it to me.
So … I wish someone had told me, but it’s okay that they didn’t. It’s just another part of marathon training — learning. I still have over a month to go, and I’m sure that I’ll be learning even more. It’s all part of becoming a better runner, but sometimes I just have to complain a little bit!
Plus, if I had known all this I still would’ve started training. Runners are masochists after all!
What have you learned when training for a race? What do you wish you knew beforehand?