Since I won’t start really training specifically for Boston until January after the Rock n Roll Arizona half (and not even mentioning the word marathon until December) , it seems pointless to continue Marathon Reflection Monday until I’m actually reflecting on a marathon. But before I vanish off into a land where I talk about something else on Mondays, I thought I’d do a final reflection on my first marathon.
Really, I think it takes more than one marathon to understand the ins and outs, so by no means do I consider myself an expert. Who knows if I can ever replicate last weekend’s performance. But I would like to take this opportunity to share a few things that I’ve picked up over the last four months that I wish I’d known going in, and that I will spend a lot less time worrying about on round two…I hope.
Amy’s Marathon Wisdom Tidbits
1. It will be hard. Probably harder than you think it will be. Physically, yes. You will have weird pains that never existed in half marathon land and recovery takes longer. But emotionally too. Be prepared to get your confidence tested every week. Be prepared to hate running in every possible way. You WILL get stronger and better. But it takes a long time to get there.
2. I compared myself to others and I didn’t die. Everyone says not to compare yourself to others. But, everyone puts their paces and workouts up on weekly recaps and pictures of their Garmins after weekend long runs. To pretend that we aren’t comparing ourselves to everyone else is ridiculous. And truthfully, as a competitive person, it drove me to run faster. THAT BEING SAID:
3. Winning a morning workout does not a champion create (loosely quoted from a book I’m reading called Once a Runner). Several people I’ve been following (none of which read my blog by the way) had fast long run paces (and by fast I mean faster than mine) that freaked me out and made me question my progress. But they didn’t come close to my marathon time come race day. Compare yourself to others if need be, but don’t assume that it tells you ANYTHING about your performance or theirs.
4. Don’t become a run snob. This goes both ways. I actually saw someone post on the Chicago Marathon facebook page that faster runners didn’t work as hard for it and medals are more meaningful for the back of the pack. HUH? I’ve also heard people criticize women who put on make-up before races or wear run skirts (guilty on both accounts). Then of course there are those that say nobody should be proud enough to put a 6.2 sticker on their car. Everyone has a journey and an ability. The most important thing is that we support each other instead of finding reasons to be jerks. Be friendly, people!
5. Train in conditions harder than you want them to be. We ran a lot in the hot sun. We ran up a lot of hills. We ran when we were tired, or when we hadn’t eaten very well the day before. Essentially, we didn’t seek out perfect conditions for our workouts. I hated it at the time. But the better prepared you are to deal with anything the better you’ll do when conditions are just right. Apparently, Michael Phelps was trained with this same philosophy. And you know, he won lots of medals.
6. DON’T WORRY ABOUT LONG RUN PACE. I get it now.
7. Everyone has advice (HA! Get it. I’m giving advice right now). Take the advice of the runners you want to be like more seriously. Also, seek out runners who run races within your goal time. Follow their training.
8. It is ok to whine. We all understand and we’ve all been there. Occasionally there is a really awesome relaxing mind clearing run, but more often there are hard runs that are satisfying to finish or runs that just plain suck. Marathon training isn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done. Our satisfaction comes from knowing that we survived and thrived despite the pain and having people treat you like a rockstar because you ran 26.2 is pretty cool.
9. I think Marathon training is kind of like having your first child (because in addition to being a marathon expert, I’m also a parenting expert!). You try to do everything by all the rules and stress that every little thing is going to mess up your marathon. But for the most part, everyone makes it out just fine if not slightly traumatized. Is it possible that I would have run faster had I drank less, eaten cleaner, slept more, and kept more closely to the schedule? Um…I kind of have no clue. But in the end, I managed to still enjoy life AND meet my goal.
10. It comes down to YOU. In the end, your training will only take you so far. The last few miles are a mental battle and if you don’t believe in yourself, then you will have a harder time making through. I credit my intense mental workout for keeping me going when my legs didn’t want to.
11. HAVE FUN! (thanks to Brandi for this contribution!). Don’t take yourself too seriously. Wear weird outfits. Prance every once in awhile.
Crossing the finish line is a fantastic feeling. I would recommend a marathon for any runner because it does push you to your limits and you do come out stronger. I’m already forgetting the pain (DAMN), and the thought of training for another marathon is not sounding too bad. WHY.
And because it is getting colder and I’m going to need to remind myself of this pretty soon:
Have a fantastic week!