What I Learned During my Marathon Journey

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Note from Jen: I asked Christy to write this post because I am number one, in awe of anyone that completes a marathon, and number two, because it might, just might, be on my bucket list. Here is what she had to share about what she learned during her marathon journey…

What I Learned During My Marathon Journey 

by Christy

When I made the commitment to sign up for my first marathon, I decided to “go big, or go home.”  So, I contacted my friends at Team in Training and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and put my name down for the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.  And I’d love to share with you what I learned during my marathon journey. 

First moment after I signed up – gulp. Panic. Gulp. What did I DO? Then, I started telling everyone. Better to get it out there and start being held accountable.

Do you know the number one statement people said to me during my six-month marathon training?  Not, “I’m proud of you.”  Not, “Wow, that’s amazing!”  Nope.

“You’re crazy.”

Oh, and that was closely followed by, “You know San Francisco is all hills, right?” (Yes I do, thank you so much.)

And you know what?  I was crazy. 26.2 miles crazy.  And I was PROUD of it!!

Just to give you a brief background, I am not a runner. Not really. I’ve always been active (my choice of exercise has always been dancing or kickboxing), and I would only run if I absolutely had to. Like, chasing after my kids in a parking lot.

But in this last 18 months, I have come to love running. Crave running. Because I have never felt healthier, stronger, and more capable than I do when I am on the course.

It started with a half marathon. I could barely clock a mile without heaving out of breath on the side of the road.  So much for being “in shape.”  I actually had someone stop and ask if they could help me or call someone. Sweet, but awkward.

Months, blisters, and looonnnggg miles later, I completed my first half marathon with my Team in Training running family.  Yes, I say family, because that is what they became.

I could barely limp back to the car, and was already planning my next race. With the heavy, solid clinking of my TinkerBell half marathon medal dangling and dancing around my neck, I vowed to register for my next half (that’s the lingo – half, full, or “just” a 10k – I felt very official). These races are addictive.

After I did two half marathons within three months of each other, I thought, “Why not?” Let’s do this. Hence the brave moment when I signed my name on the Nike Marathon commitment form.

Marathon Lessons Learned –

It’s a part-time job.
Yep, this is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You will be running multiple times per week…and your mileage will continue to increase as your training progresses.  Especially on your longer weekend runs. I know it can seem overwhelming…but it is such an incredible process to experience and more than worth the time you put in.  Remember – you are investing in yourself.

It will test you just as much mentally, as it will physically.
Sometimes more. For me, it was all about the little mind tricks I could play while running.  For example, (it may sound silly) playing something as simple as “I Spy” or talking about what happened on your favorite television show with a running buddy, or promising yourself you won’t look at you watch until three songs on your iPad have concluded.  All of these little tricks and games helped me work through the miles.

Or on the really tough miles, really tough courses, or the really tough days I just didn’t want to get out of bed, I would tell myself…”Okay, I just have to make it to that lamp post.  Then I can take a break.”  Or, “I’m just going to do three miles today…even though I’m supposed to do seven.”  I found that most of the time, I got into my groove and completed my mission for that day anyway.

Treat your body like the temple that it is.
As tempting as it is to eat whatever you want, I would caution to maintain a consistent, healthy diet.  So many of my runner friends have different opinions on protein versus carbs versus Paleo, etc.  My advice? Do your research, pick a nutrition plan that works for you and your body, and try to stick with it.  Also, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  When I’m training, I’m a huge advocate of electrolyte water.

Put in your time and put in your training.  There is no faking this.
Your body has to learn handle these miles. The only way to do this is to do the work.  Again, I would suggest doing your research, picking a marathon training plan, and stay consistent.

You will learn your limitations – and learn how to push past them.
So much of what I learned throughout my training was the ability to listen to my body.  I’m absolutely not advocating for pushing yourself to the point of injury.  However, I learned to better handle the typical aches, pains, blisters, muscle spasms, etc. that naturally come with training to run 26.2 miles.  This also meant pushing past my preconceived notions of the “right way” to train for a marathon, accepting my body for what it was, and being able to say “thank you” for each run completed. 

It will hurt…and that’s okay.  Pain is temporary.
I learned to differentiate pain versus injury. Aches versus pulls. And, all of the neat little tricks runners use to survive this process. Body glide for blisters. Athletic tape. Wraps.  Compression socks (Sexy, I know. But A-MAZING after a long run!). Knee bands. Ice baths. “GU” or gummie electrolytes for calories and energy during long miles.  Foam rollers (heavenly!).

You will own this title of “Marathon Finisher” for life.   Be proud!  YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

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