I’ve got 8 days until I run my 1st marathon. Here are some things I’ve learned during my training. While applied to running here, they really are just giant metaphors for any life situation…
Perception is relative. I used to think that a “long” run was 6 miles. Now though, I seem to only consider 12+ miles to be long ones. Ten? Maybe. Seven? No. When you’ve run multiple distances over twelve miles, five, six, seven, or even eight seem like pitiful little runs.
The weather is just something to work around. Of course, we’ve had the wackiest weather in recent memory, but I sincerely doubt I would have signed on for this had I known that every long run would turn into an exercise in survival. The last time I had a run where I didn’t need to immediately go home to a hot bath or shower was way back in November! Thank goodness the marathon is in Florida, where, even though it’s still colder than average, it’s warm compared to here. Still… you just go out and run because that’s the only way you get the training done.
Scheduling becomes paramount to your life, and running in particular becomes deliberate. I’ve learned more life lessons with this one than any other aspect of marathon training. If you don’t schedule a run, it can’t/won’t/doesn’t get done. Simple as that. If you don’t get the training runs done, you open yourself to all kinds of bad stuff: injuries, aches, and the inevitable frustration of trying to rearrange life to fit it in later. If something like the weather circumvents a training run, well, then you must be calculated in how you reshuffle other commitments to get that one run in. And, in with enough time for your body to heal between the next long one. I’m pretty orderly and organized already; this has sharpened my discipline skills a great deal!
No matter how young you are, you can feel pretty old pretty quickly. I watched a funny video of people trying to walk up and down stairs after a marathon. After 18 or 20 miles, I look – and feel – like an eighty year old who just had dual hip and knee replacement surgery. It doesn’t take the same amount of time to recover as it would from surgery, but man! I feel ancient trying to stand up/sit down after a long run. It’s pretty funny when you catch yourself in the mirror…
Injuries, aches, and lethargy happen. Like the weather, you just work around it. You allow yourself time to heal and time to get a second wind to go out and run a long one in another few days. Then, if the healing has taken place, you run some more.
Your toes will look like your worst nightmare. Let me put it this way: I’ve already scheduled a pedicure for when I’m home . And I’ve never had a pedicure before in my life! Blisters, blood blisters, skin flaking off, black toenails. Ugh! Who knew toes could look so awful? Not me, that’s for sure!
Okay, so if you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering what on earth is good about training for a marathon? To be perfectly honest, I’ve asked myself that question a hundred times already. And maybe I’ll have more sage advice after I’ve run the marathon, but here’s what I think is good about marathons:
It’s one of those “proof” moments in your life. You can do it. You can go through some awfully uncomfortable, disheartening experiences and come out better for it on the other side.
You get yourself out of a rut. You take on something new, something daunting, and you don’t settle for letting life be the same old thing as it ever was.
You are part of something greater than just you. As I’ve mentioned before, this marathon is the National Breast Cancer marathon. If it were benefiting mulitiple sclerosis though, I’d do it. If even one iota of the money I’ve paid to be a part of this helps someone down the road fight the disease, it’ll be worth it. If, even just doing this marathon proves to my family that you can keep stretching yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, it’ll be worth it.
I know – just know – that when it’s over, it’ll be worth it!