1. It will hurt
Obvious? Maybe. But what I didn’t know was how much it was going to hurt long before race day.
Running more miles than you ever have before hurts. Speed sessions hurt, long runs hurt, short runs hurt, even rest days hurt…when you go to bed, when you wake up, when your alarm goes off at 7am at the weekend. It all hurts.
But trumping them all is when your friends stay in the pub for a late one on the jagerbombs, and you trundle off home with your tail between your legs because you need to knock out 9 miles in the morning. Nothing hurts quite like that.
It’s gonna hurt. Get used to it.
2. You will have bad days
There will probably be quite a few, marathon training is never plain sailing. When I was training for Paris I attempted a 15 mile run after work on a Friday night. I was under prepared, mentally and physically, I was in a rush and I underestimated the distance. I couldn’t do it.
That night I ran 12 miles. I came home in tears wailing ‘I had to cut my run short by 3 MILES and I’ve only run 12, whhaaaaa’. I thought it was the end of the world, my housemate thought I was mental. I probably was…I probably am…
If you have a bad day, or even a bad week, move on, don’t worry about it and definitely don’t give up.
3. You may never have a good hair day ever again
I’m afraid this one is serious. Morning runs will leave little time for a perfect blow dry and, by the time you’ve finished your run of an evening, you’re likely to be more concerned with filling the void in your tummy than sorting your hair out.
Unless you have a personal stylist on tap it’s gonna be a rough few months for your locks. Sorry
4. You will become really boring to your non-running friends
I mean, really boring. There you are, living, breathing, even dreaming about running and it’s all you can do to stop talking about all the miles you’ve run, the ache in your calf, the new gel flavour you’ve discovered, your new Sweaty Betty top…but the harsh truth is, the only people that will be vaguely interested are other runners.
Whilst your friends and family will be endlessly supportive…they really don’t care. They don’t care that you knocked 53 seconds off your Parkrun PB or that you ran your longest run ever, or that your toenail just fell off…
WHAT! You went for another run? Really?! Guess what…
5. You need to have a little faith in you
There will be many times over the 16 odd weeks you’re training when you will think you just can’t do it. I still think that all the time! My friend Mike is always telling me I need to trust my training and he’s right, you need to trust all the hard work you’ve put in during the build up, it will pay off and it will see you through.
When I was struggling in the run up to Amsterdam Keith told me look back and write down my top 5 runs. What was good about them? Remember the positives (all negatives are banned…)
Most importantly, you need to have a little faith in yourself
6. You’ll talk about poo more than is socially acceptable
When you start running long distances you get to know your body very well and you’ll soon have a mental map of all the accessible toilets within a 20 mile radius. Tennis courts, pubs, coffee shops, churches, bushes-where-dogs-can’t-find-you, you’ll know them all.
Whilst it’s fine to talk stomach cramps and Imodium with other runners, your friends won’t understand and your work colleagues just won’t get it, so when you bust out the poo strategy chat on a Tuesday afternoon after a conference call…well…don’t.
To be clear: Poo talk is fine with other runners, but at work? NO
7. Respect the rest day
Would you disrespect the long run? No. So don’t disrespect the rest day! Rest days are when the magic happens, it’s when the body adapts and improves and gets stronger. Don’t try and make up for missed sessions by compromising rest days, just let it go.
Your days off are hard earned, put your feet up, put the kettle on and chill out. Enjoy it!
8. It’s Emotional
Nothing can quite prepare you for the immense euphoria, relief and triumphant joy you feel when you cross the marathon finish line. Weeks and weeks of blood, sweat, and tears all comes down to this very this moment and you’ve done it! Add to that the sheer exhaustion, more pain and raging thirst and you may very well just cry. But that’s OK…just don’t ruin your brand new shiny medal!
9. You’ll get the blues
What goes up must come down and after the high of finishing your first marathon there’s a fair ol way to come back down. When the celebrations are over and you’ve caught up on life it’s normal to feel like there’s a bit of a hole in your life. You spent so much time, energy and focus preparing for one day it feels a bit like when Christmas is over when you’re a kid.
I’m afraid the post-marathon blues are very real
There’s only one way I’ve found of picking myself back up again, and that leads us on nicely to…
10. It’s an addiction
Sure, you might not believe me now and you sure as hell won’t believe me just after you’ve crossed that finish line, but give it a week…maybe less…and you’ll be carefully dusting off your trainers secretly plotting when your next marathon will be. All of a sudden it’s not so secret and you’re lining up marathons like you used to line up sambuka on a Friday night.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Before you know it people will be all like…
And it is a problem. It’s a really big frigging problem…so good luck with that 🙂
3 thoughts on “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I ran a Marathon”
Thanks – lovely site and totally agree! (Though I don’t talk ‘poo’ as I’ll have no friends left and, quite frankly, they don’t care!!). I’m addicted – 7 marathons last year, 3 so far this year.
BEST WISHES on your next one!
Warsaw Marathon (24 Sept. this year) very good.
Thank you! 7 marathons in a year is amazing, well done! Good luck to you in Warsaw, I think injury might knock me out of Berlin sadly but I’ll put Warsaw on my list 😊
Just seen you’re doing Berlin Marathon the same weekend as the fantastic Warsaw one. Never mind. If you want details, let me know. Just also seen you’re in Clapham. I’m in Lewisham.