Thursday, 14 April 2016

What's it's really like to train for a marathon

When I first started marathon training, I kept a list in my phone I entitled "What it's really like to train for a marathon." The idea was for it to be a list of all the things nobody tells you, anything that I didn't expect, things I thought people should know and also just a list of little grievances and annoyances along the way. 
I've been adding to this for over 4 months, one run at a time. Some of my notes make sense, some repeat themselves. Some are gross, some are funny. But this is my experience of training for my first marathon...

  • You have to run 8 miles before work. So you get up at the crack of dawn, run 8 miles, THEN go to work
  • Sundays are an absolute write off
  • Say goodbye to your toenails
  • And hello to blisters
  • You will be hungry all.the.time
  • Nights out are cancelled
  • Everything is planned around your schedule. You will use sentences like "oh I can't, I have an 18 mile run the next day"
  • And "ooh my long run this weekend is only 13 miles!"
  • You will miss some runs in your training plan
  • And freak out that you've ruined your training and you'll never finish the race
  • You will be exhausted 80% of the time
  • You will worry about whether you're following the right plan, or if you should change plan, or if another plan is better
  • You will eat a LOT of sweets
  • And you'll learn which are the best texture to chew while simultaneously running
  • Everyone will think you're a little bit crazy
  • And they'll tease you about how often you go on about your upcoming race
  • You will start feeling a bit resentful of all the training you have to do
  • You will need the toilet on a run. And you will worry about whether using the toilet in Tesco without buying something is an offence you can be arrested for
  • You probably won't be able to think straight after any run over 15 miles
  • It will ruin your social life (or give you a great excuse to leave early)
  • You'll stop caring about how you look when you're running
  • Anything you get done after your long run is an achievement
  • You will eat everything after a long run
  • You will eat a lot of junk
  • Sometimes you'll just need to take a nap to avoid being a zombie the rest of the day
  • You will need to up your self care game
  • You'll end up going to bed when it's still light outside
  • Other hobbies will have to take a step back
  • You will get ill and have to rest up for a few days
  • And you'll worry about losing fitness all the time
  • You will become a bit gross (see, toenails)
  • You'll be thankful when you go to a party and don't know people very well when someone asks "how's your marathon training going?"
  • Sometimes you need to give yourself a bit of a break
  • You will need to rearrange your social life around your runs
  • You will get really, really bored of training. Of the running, of the planning, of the Sunday afternoons when you can't do anything
  • Your weekends will be dedicated to running
  • You'll try to get out as early as possible for a long run so you're not getting back in the middle of the afternoon after a 3+ hour run
  • You'll feel like you're wasting your weekends
  • Sometimes you'll need a Plan B
  • You'll feel ill and run down most of the time
  • You'll have to learn to be a bit flexible sometimes
  • You'll realise that your training isn't "hard", it just requires oh-so-much committment
  • You'll say you don't care about your time, but you do
  • You will have a slightly unrealistic time goes (edit: I HIT MY SLIGHTLY UNREALISTIC TIME GOAL!)
  • You will feel disgusting
  • You'll never get around to crosstraining
  • You'll read a lot of articles about what you "should" be doing
  • You will get so bored of running
  • You will listen to a LOT of podcasts
  • You will worry you haven't done enough (read: any) speedwork
  • You will eat, have a nap, then need to eat again
  • The day after a 20 miler is a write off
  • You'll feel ill all day after a really long run
  • You will need some real grit and determination to get through the training
  • You will have terribly awful runs
  • There will be times when you'll really think you can't do it
  • You'll spend the last 2 weeks worrying about everything
  • You'll read every article you can find about carb loading
  • You will spend a lot of money last-minute on things you "need" for race day
  • You will question everything
  • Everything will niggle
  • You'll start to regret not doing more training
  • You will panic buy everything
  • You'll start to worry about life after the marathon
  • You'll pimp your JustGiving page constantly
  • You will have nightmares of not finishing
  • You will have one niggle that will threaten to derail all your training
  • You'll try new things way too close to race day
  • You'll have absolutely no plan for anything after race day
  • Carb loading will be nowhere near as fun as you expected
  • You'll feel constantly full and bloated
  • You'll start to feel a sense of loss even before the race
  • You will read all the contradictory information online
  • You will completely freak out
  • You will be bored senseless the day before the race
  • You will start to seriously envision getting a DNF
  • You will imagine failing much more than you will imagine success
  • Everything will go wrong on race day (edit: I accidentally slept in my contact lenses the night before my race...)
  • It will hurt. All the way around.
  • You will have to factor in needing a wee at mile 12 into your goal time
  • You'll try to compensate for the five minutes you waited for the toilet
  • You'll see your family half way and they'll spur you one and you'll be in the happiest bubble on Earth
  • You'll be feeling amazing...
  • Until mile 19
  • And then it will be the hardest thing you've ever done in your life
  • You will spend the last 2 miles looking over your shoulder for the pacer
  • You will nearly give up
  • You will try to stay in the mile you're in
  • Your Garmin will save your sanity
  • You'll think you'll speed up the last 2 miles. You won't
  • You'll have dreams of a sprint finish
  • But the last 0.2 miles will be absolute torture
  • You will cry
  • You will cross the finish line and your legs won't know how to walk any more
  • And then someone will put the medal around your neck like the Olympics
  • You will see your family and you'll cry some more
  • Everyone will tell you how proud they are of you. And you'll be so proud of yourself you can't even believe it
  • You'll know you worked so hard
  • You will hurt everywhere - legs, back, chest, arms, mouth, ears...
  • You will feel like you have the flu
  • You won't be able to think straight
  • You'll be annoyingly in awe of yourself - "remember that time I ran a marathon?"
  • You'll know you should stretch... but you won't
  • So the next day you won't be able to move
  • Stairs will put the fear of God in you
  • You won't be able to walk properly for two days
  • You won't know what is just muscle soreness and what is an injury
  • You'll feel nauseated for days
  • You will resent everyone who compares anything to a marathon
  • You'll have a horrible moment when you realise you can't eat what you want any more
  • You'll start to become bereft
  • You'll miss the training
  • You'll know you need to remember the torture of training before you sign up for another one
  • But you know you'll do it again

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