What is it like to Run a Marathon? All of the Tips, Tricks, and Life Lessons from This Life Changing Experience

Hello Peaches! I would just like to preface this post by saying I realize this is a little different type of post than I normally make. It’s not about fashion or travel or like any of my other typical posts . However, the peachy life is all about living out a mindful, healthful and intent filled life and fitness/running is one of my #1 ways of doing this. So, with the outdoor running season coming to an end soon and with the New York marathon being this past weekend I thought that there was no better time to write this than now.

Running marathons. This is not really something that a lot of people can say they just “grew up doing”, but for me it’s the truth. Maybe, that goes to show you just how crazy my family is. I am 22 years old and I have ran 7 marathons in my lifetime. Each time I run I get so many questions, curiosities, remarks, and assumptions about what it is like. So here in this post I want to explain everything!

Take Your Mark

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For starters, I got into this whole running marathons thing because of my family. My grandma and my mom had run a handful of marathons when my brother and sister and I were really little. They didn’t start running until their 30 and 40s. As my siblings and I got older, life got a little crazier and they stepped away from the marathon life. However, my grandma always said that it would be a dream of hers to run a marathon with one of her grandchildren. Finally, when it was my sister’s senior year of high school, my mom, sister and grandma all decided to run together. I thought this was so cool and inspiring. I wanted to run, I was only 13 yrs old at the time and my mom thought I was too young. After seeing all the training they had done, and the moment they crossed the finish line I knew I wanted to do one one day.

The next morning I was reading the paper with the race result. Much to my dismay, I saw there was 2 other 13 year olds that ran. I ran over to my mom and showed her and said “See! I could have done it too!” After seeing how badly I wish I ran with them she told me that whether my sister or grandma wanted to do it again or not she would promise to do it the following year with me. Not only did all 3 of them sign up again with me but my brother decided to join in too. Our first one with all 5 of us was in 2008. We ran Grandma’s marathon in Duluth, Mn. Since then this has been our go-to race. It is our family tradition to rent out a cabin in beautiful northern Minnesota, enjoy a weekend of good views, good running, and good vibes. We like this race because of the all around comradery of it.

This past summer 2016, our running crew grew even bigger. My Grandma (70 years old), my mother, my sister, me and even my brother-in-law, my brother’s fiance and my boyfriend decided to run with us. (My brother was signed up to do so but due to his duties with the United States National Guard he was not able to run this weekend. We told him this was good enough reason to miss this one.) Each year is tough and difficult. It doesn’t get any easier. But each year is also so much fun and so worth it so we keep on signing up to do it again.

Race Time

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The top comment I will get from people when they find out I run marathons is usually along the lines of, “Wow, I am not a runner. I hate running, I don’t think I ever could do that.” The key to that is the “I don’t think” part. I tell them I was never a runner either.

It still is hard for me to consider myself a runner 7 races later. I always grew up playing agility sports where my body had to be able change position quickly and swiftly, never was I used to running at the same pace for 5 hours straight. Also, to this day I don’t think my body was built for it. I am 5′ 10″ and 150 lbs, I’m not quite that “runner’s body” type, and don’t even get me started on my bad knees and ankles. I think most people only think about the physical aspect of running when really 75% of it is mental.

ANYONE can run a marathon. The hardest part is just committing to it. I am telling you, every single race I have run there are all types of people there. It never fails that I will be running and will be feeling so tired, maybe even doubting myself and that is when an 82 year old man with a running form that could almost make me cringe, runs past me with a smile. I say, “if he can do, I can do it.”

There are elderly people running, people even younger than me running, there are people fighting obesity that run, there are people that never ran a mile in their life before their training but said they lost a bet so they had to do this. There is this sort of false idea that when you line up at the start line you are going to be surrounded by a bunch of Usain Bolt looking people when this is not true at all!

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The next most frequently asked question is, “how do you even train for something like that!?” And, well when it comes to training I have to be honest with all of you, I am not the poster child for this. There are two ways you can run/finish a race, 1. Is as if you are going to die and 2. Is as if you are the strongest human on the planet. I finished my first marathon the second way, as if I was the strongest human on the planet. That is because that is the one and only time that I have ever trained properly. The rest of my races I finished in type 1. style. I DO NOT recommend this.

You can not underestimate the goal you are trying to accomplish. It takes hard work, dedication, and ALOT of discipline. To train properly you should run every single day except 1 rest day, most likely Sundays. Training should start about 16 weeks out from your race day. There are a ton of training schedules online but most of them follow the same pattern as in each week is a gradual build up of how many miles you run. Such as week 1 is in the 1-3 mile range, Week 2 is the 3-6 mile range, etc. Each day is a different number of miles and Saturdays are usually for your big runs. Most schedules say that you should run at least 2 18-20 mile runs before the actual marathon so that you know you are prepared. If you do all of this properly, you will be more than prepared. This means that a lot of times sacrifices have to be made. You will have to say “no” and turn down social events just for the simple fact that you have to wake up and run for hours. I, repeat, though…it is all worth it!

Finally, so many ask “do you actually run the whole time? I could never run ___ amount of hours straight.” The answer is, No. Unless you are running in the elite category of runners, you most likely do not literally run the whole time of the race. Or at least I don’t. Some races I run more and some I run less. Each race is completely different. Some races, you find you have pain you have never had before, some you hit your wall earlier than usual, some you will hit it later. Some races for some odd reason you can feel absolutely glorious the whole time and not have a single problem go wrong.

That was me two years ago, I did just as much training as usual (which is not a lot at all) but for some reason, I felt great the whole entire race and got my PBR of something around 4 hours and 45 min. This past race was opposite. I woke up with the worst stomach ache in the whole world and felt just physically sick like I had the flu the whole time, so it took me about 6 hours to finish. Either way there is usually some method we use for pacing ourselves. This past marathon we had a 5 min 2 min rule. So we would run for 5 min and walk for 2 min. We tried to keep this technique up for most of the race and it really helped me conserve energy and is ultimately the reason that I was able to finish. This is why it is so important to train though, so that you can find out what method works for you.

The Finish Line Is in Sight

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All Photos Above By: Ebbs ‘n’ Flows Photography

Very few things in life can give you the feeling of accomplishment that a marathon can. You committed to it, you put in all the hard work, it is a journey of hills and valleys, literally and metaphorically. You test your body in a way that it has never been tested but more importantly you push your mind harder than it can ever be pushed. Only you can complete the marathon for yourself, and you completed that goal. Nothing external to you has anything to do with this so nothing can be taken from it.

Running a marathon is the most exhilarating experience but also the most robust. “You will feel intimidated but then feel like a conqueror. At times you feel angry (you are sure the finish line was moved back just to piss you off). And you will feel concern and compassion for the others running alongside you in this life-changing event”

“Running a marathon is one of the most challenging and rewarding events that anyone will experience. The human body imposes natural limitations on the distance we can run easily. The marathon distance is set to take us beyond our comfort zone, into a realm in which we confront the limitations of our bodies and our minds. We complete the marathon distance only by patient preparation and mental discipline. There are no short cuts, no easy ways out. The marathon takes us up to, and beyond, the limit of human endurance, into an unknown zone where we confront our true selves, and discover our inner strengths and limits.” (Quora)

This sense of accomplishment provides you with the reassurance that when you set your mind on something, there is nothing or no one in life that can get in your way to do it. No matter how tough it may seem, no matter how many times people tell you you are crazy, no matter how many times your own body might doubt you, you can and will do it despite it all.

Actual Photos from Grandma’s Marathon 2016:

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Well, I hope you all enjoyed my perspective on this life changing event and I am so glad I finally shared it with you all. It feels good to, since it is such a big part of my life and so is this blog. Maybe you have never ran a marathon before but know someone that has and it has made you curious so this gives you insight. Maybe you have even considered running one yourself and this will help push you to do so. Or maybe you have never thought about it and you still think you never will but you have another big goal in your life, I would love to hear about it!! Please share :)

 

 

 

 


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