Wednesday, 13 April 2016

My First Marathon Is Over

I have FINALLY finished my first marathon. Months and months of training, blisters, late night runs, long Sunday runs, rainy runs, chafing, bruised toes, black toe nails, bad knees, aching muscles and sore, sore feet are over. It has been long, hard and painful but I am so glad I have done it. Doing a marathon has always been on my bucket list but it seemed like something I would do in the far and distant future. This time last year I never would have imagined I would be running a marathon, I hadn’t even started running at that point. I am writing this post the day after the race; my thighs are on fire, I am walking like I have had a little accident and I have chaffed in random places including the inside of my arms. But I will pull through to write a post on the 26(.2) things I have learnt, noticed, felt or thought during this whole experience.

1.       It takes up so much time.
Like so much time. Fitting in training around a full time job, seeing family and friends and binging on your favourite Netflix show can become one big balancing act. During the week I’d rush home from work, get ready, get out there, come back, shower and it’d be 9pm and I’d not even started eating dinner! Expect your weeks to go much faster.

2.       You’ll cut down on your drinking.
Running can be difficult on the best of days so when you’re doing a long run on a Sunday the last thing you want is a hangover! Ergo you need to cut down on the drinking. A good benefit of this was that I had a little extra money each month and got to treat myself.

3.       And on socialising in general.
Again, as it takes up so much time to train you may have to turn down a few invitations. So you may spend a few mornings jealously listening to everybody’s drunken tales but you’ll also be happy you didn’t go out when they complain about how much money they spent.

4.       You’ll track your macronutrients.
Tracking what you eat is important, you need to make sure you’re having enough protein and carbohydrates. A great app for this is My Fitness Pal, it’s so easy to use and it’s free!

5.       You get chaffing in all sorts of places.
Chaffing, that wonderful irritation of skin caused by repetitive action. I was expecting to chaff on the inner thighs but I did not expect to chaffer on the inner glutes. Yes, that’s a common thing. I don’t want to talk about it.

6.       Running in the rain will become the standard.
If you’re training for a spring marathon expect to run in the rain, snow and wind. Ah, there’s no better feeling than running 15 miles and turning into a prune. 

7.       Planning out a route can be harder than the actual runs sometimes.
Okay, maybe not harder but it can be a pain in glutes! Trying to add in a few more miles here and there, trying to avoid the dodgy areas and hoping to god you won’t get lost on a new route.

8.       Black toenails are a thing.
I can barely remember when my left big toe wasn’t black now, I thought it was going to fall off when I first saw it. Thankfully the blackness seems to be subsiding now but damn it still hurts.

9.       So are bad knees
So I started getting knee pain just before officially starting my marathon training, resulting in me starting the training plan 4 weeks late. I have been getting physiotherapy throughout training but it’s still not better and has been a big drawback.

10.       You get to know your city really well.
You think you know where you live until you go on a million runs down streets you never would have gone down before.

11.       You realise how small said city is when planning out long runs.
Planning out long runs is so hard! I don’t like have to double up on my runs but sometimes you have to. The worst is when you plan out a long run, not having done the route before and then you realise the last two miles are full of hills.

12.       You go places you never would usually and see some beautiful views.
Running in the snow is not ideal, but seeing a lake in the snow was. And on my trip to New York I got to see a lot of Central Park while on a run and those views were pretty beautiful. 

13.       Short runs can feel harder than long runs.
Seriously, I have struggled more on a 3 mile run than I have on a 10 mile run.

14.       You learn all the running lingo like tempo run, fartlek and VO2 max.
Then someone ask what your run is tonight and you go drop one of these bad boys and people look at you like you’re speaking a foreign language, then you try to explain the run and it’s benefits and realise you’re boring them and they ain’t listening.

15.       Getting out of the door can be the first big challenge.
You sit down for too long and you start reasoning: “I mean missing one run isn’t a big deal…I don’t want to run too late cos that’s dangerous…I guess I can do my run tomorrow instead…”

16.       Shin splints hurt.
Ow. Just…ow! This was something that affected me more at the beginning of training, thankfully I’ve not had them in a while.

17.       Buying sportswear becomes a new obsession.
I mean, you can never have too many running tops right?

18.       It’s running etiquette to give a smile and/or nod at fellow runners.
I’m not sure if it’s actual etiquette but you clock each other coming down the street then give each other an awkward smile/nod as you pass.

19.       Training with someone else is a great motivator.
I would not have gotten out of that door some nights without the boyfriend practically dragging me out, and vice versa.

20.       Stretching is important.
And it feels so good!

21.       Running will be on your mind a lot so you’ll probably go on about it.
 I openly apologise to all of the people I may have bored whilst talking about running. It takes up so much time that it’s almost constantly on your mind and it can feel like it’s all you ever do.

22.   Runners high is pretty great.
It can be hard to get out there and you may hate running at the start of a run but every time I’ve finished I have been happy.

23.   Missing a run can send you into a paranoid frenzy.
Whilst you may make up excuses sometimes to get out of a run or you genuinely just don’t have the time, you start to panic that it will throw off your entire training plan. It won’t! I mean, obviously don’t miss too many runs but missing some is natural, life gets in the way: sometimes you have to stay late at work, you have an event you can’t miss or you feel ill.

24.   Seeing someone on a run when you can’t can make you jealous.
And then you’re driving to said event and see someone running and you throw them some serious shade cos it should be you out there.

25.   Tapering is an emotional rollercoaster.
Ah tapering, on the one hand it’s great to not have to do those long runs but then the anxiety about race day kicks in. What helped me was planning something else to do after the marathon so the day didn’t seem like the be-all and end-all.

26.   Seeing all the spectators on the day is a big motivational boost.
Just want to say a big thank you to all the thousands of people who lined the streets to cheer us runners on. I appreciated all the funny signs, the bands playing, the little kids holding out plates of jelly babies and those who encouraged us on during the hard parts. It really did help.

26.2.      You may get the marathon bug.
I trained to just finish the marathon. I was a little disappointed with my time, I was 20 minutes over what I wanted. I am already thinking of competing in next year’s marathon but possibly training to get a sub 3.30 time. I think this will be the first of many.

So that just about concludes my marathon post on my first marathon. I can’t believe that it’s finally over, it feels like I’ve been training forever and it’s become such a big part of my life it will be weird to not do it anymore. Until next year! Are you taking part in any races this year? Or started a new exercise regime?


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