It’s hard not to have marathon fever right now after watching the NYC Marathon. So much so that many runners are starting to think about starting their very own training to become part of the pack of people that can say they have completed this major victory. But there are lots of things people don’t know until experiencing it for themselves.
Runners tell others how nervous and excited they are on race day and how amazing it feels to finish a marathon. They share struggles over the dreaded 20-mile training run and tips about how to run long mileage while balancing work and family. But most people don’t tell you quite a few things about running a marathon.
It’s close to impossible to plan to run a marathon without any form of training. But what many runners hear is that training takes away from the runner’s social life. This often means using weekends for a long run, so Friday nights are reserved for sleep. And with logging so many miles, any free time is probably spent resting.
“I also wish people told me that training would suck my social life dry,” marathoner Sarah Hay told Rockay. “But I’d find a new social life with other runners, and I’d be much happier with them.”
This is a huge point since many think they can’t hang out with friends or have fun running, meanwhile, some of the greatest friendships are made out on the trails.
“[And that] I would miss training!” Hay added as another thing she revealed no one told her about. After being dedicated to a schedule and then finally it all comes to an end, many runners are left not knowing what to do next.
Another thing to expect when running a marathon is how training pace changes. “Marathon training makes you slow,” Brittni Viehman said. “At least the first time you run one! Training for my second marathon made me fast.”
Marathoner Rebecca Fletcher Garms said, “there are two halves in a full.” This breaks down to the first 20 miles, then the last 10k. This is a point runner Erin Leah also agreed with, believing that the race is really that last 10k.
This means knowing when to focus on getting through each mile, and when to start focusing on that finish even though everything might hurt. Another runner advised that it doesn’t matter how much energy you tried to save for the later miles by starting slow. By the end, the runner will still be fatigued. At that point, it’s about digging deep. “There is no time for being a baby on a marathon course,” Ninette Giardina added.
How To Run A Marathon? With Your Heart
This is where commitment and grit come to play. To run a marathon, a person needs a whole lot of heart.
“The first 22 were a piece of cake,” marathoner Monika Bhramayana Miller said. “You will find out what you are truly made of the last four. It’s not physical anymore. It’s all mental.”
And while many hear stories about hitting the wall mile 20, other marathoners revealed miles 18-22 are some “dark miles” for some.
Marathoner Tricia Eller said, “You truly do run the last few miles with your heart.”
The body is capable of more than we think, especially when properly trained. It’s strengthening the mental game that puts marathoners in a league in their own compared to shorter distance runners.
“Somewhere between 20 and 24 miles there is frustration, exhaustion and a decision to finish,” Rebecca Samuels said. “Whether it be a come to God moment or some type of inner-outer realization of self… it is a life-changing event.”
Many marathoners revealed that they needed to eat a whole lot more than they thought they would have to. Running nutrition depends on each runner, but some consume a gel or sports beans every 4 to 5 miles with water. This means carry lots of GU on race day.
“Everything is blood sugar,” Angela Weeks said. “Hitting the wall, being emotional, feeling sick. Keep your glucose levels stable and it’s a smoother ride.”
Runner report being starving after finishing, but then finding they were too full to eat their entire victory meal.
All The Feels
Runners probably heard how emotional it is to finish a marathon, but most people don’t tell you that it is extremely emotional during the race.
“I felt like I was pregnant again, because of the mood swings,” Bhramayana Miller said.
Eller shared that she too felt “giddy” and “weepy” in the last few miles as well. Most marathoners tell us that those last three miles are the hardest.
Common emotions including being happy, sad, frustrated and filled with joy. Expect to be cursing one minute, excited the next and then depressed all in any given mile.
“Definitely how it’s a cathartic experience of all the years before your first,” Starla Marie Garcia said when asked what no one tells first-time marathoners. “All the challenge, difficulties, and all the small victories in life definitely intersect somewhere in those deep miles.”
“I wasn’t prepared for the raw emotions I felt during it,” runner Chelsea Marie said. “Miles 19-25 were hard because it forced me to look internally at myself in ways I never did during training and I wasn’t prepared for those feelings. Stopped and cried at mile 22 and then found it in me to finish. I am not an emotional person at all, but boy did my marathon bring it out of me. Yeah, ‘raw’ is the best way to describe it I think.”
Others reported that even though that thought they would have all the feels, instead they were left just feeling relief that it was over.
The sense of pride that is felt can be overwhelming. “Just how truly proud you’ll be of yourself,” marathoner Courtney Bell said of what people don’t tell runners. “I often minimize hard things. Meaning, I knew 26.2 would be hard and it would challenge me. But nothing prepared me for how emotional I’d feel when I realized I actually did it. I committed to a training plan and executed.”
Trish VanHoek revealed that no one tells runners “how much you’ll cry when you finish. Every. Single. Time.”
And The Crash After
The finish line is in sight as the runner uses the energy from the crowd to power through those last meters. And although the floodgate of emotions opens up after crossing that finish line, many don’t tell runners about the mental crash that comes afterward.
There is a runner’s high that can linger on for a few days post marathon. Marathoner Carla Mckenzie revealed how she too felt that runner’s high for almost a week. But then she “came crashing down bad,” stress on the bad.
Many others agreed. “I had the post-marathon blues quite bad,” Mary Tesch said. “The only cure I found was to run another one! Marathons are highly addictive.”
Not only does a running a marathon takes a toll on the mind and emotions, but it also does on the body. “Depending on the person, you may not be insanely sore or tired the following days,” runner Sarah Hay said. Hay was able to get out and running two days later. In fact, going for a short run is an important part of the recovery process.
Emily Notaro said no one tells runners “that after running 26.2, you forget how to walk. I felt like a newborn giraffe walking through the finisher’s chute.
Many report their legs weren’t sore, but it was their IT band that hurt post marathon.
Conclusion: Final Tips
Runners warn that it’s totally a possibility to use the bathroom–without stopping. Many have done it to avoid waiting in lines or stopping to slow down their pace. Others say that you will get used to using the port-a-potty.
They also advise clipping those toenails beforehand. A good tip to use a garbage bag with holes cut out for the arms and head to keep warm pre-race.
And no matter how long it takes to finish, runners report that even if it takes 5 hours, the race goes by fast.
Runners hear that the handwork is really within the training, and this rings true. This is how many like Kathleen Ciceran believe that earn their medal.
“Marathon training changed me in ways I never expected,” Tia Hedenland said. “I learned so much about myself in those 18weeks. It was hands down the hardest thing I have ever done. And I never knew how quickly it all would go by. I smiled, laughed and cried during the race. And after it was done. I missed it! Our bodies are truly capable of amazing things. Many have said, training for a marathon will change your life. I didn’t believe that until I actually did it myself!”
There are some things we read and stories we hear, but just make sure to put in the work, bring that running nutrition and enough lube to prevent chafing to run that marathon.
“Running a marathon is like a puzzle. You have to figure out so many things like training body and mind, nutrition, rest, time management, etc,” Elia Curiel said. “You will learn so many new things about yourself that you will be amazed to find out what you are made out of.”
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