- You can do it. You. Yes. You can. I ran my first marathon in May 2014. The spring I graduated college. The spring I did the most soul-searching. It transformed me. I had spent a lot of years not believing myself and that fire that 26.2 miles lit (yes, it was over 95 degrees but I’m talking about a fire within) changed me. After I ran my first marathon, I ran another just to see if I could do it again. Your body gives up first, way before your mind. Running teaches me every day that I am strong and capable of so much more.
- It’s for you, not anyone else. I’ve had one true running buddy through the years. (Miss you, Bease!) Otherwise, running is for me. I love running with my husband and I’d love to be a part of a running group someday but deep down, I feel like my time spent on long runs is time that belongs to no one else. I don’t have to worry about to-do lists, or work, or not being good enough. It’s just me, myself, and I. One of my favorite running quotes is: “If you don’t have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain’t getting them.” Christopher McDougall
- Listen to your body. I love my planner and I love a good training schedule but I’ve learned to listen to my body. There are some days everything hurts for no reason. Rest is important. I try to listen to my body on the days it’s screaming “yoga pleeeeeease” and even on the days it wants to run longer than “planned”. I’ve been known to stay home from work because I just needed a long run. My own special kind of mental health day, shhh.
- Be proud. It’s okay to celebrate your accomplishments and remember that you are a badass, because you are.
- Be patient. It takes time to achieve goals. It takes time to hit high mileage weeks. Be patient with yourself and your body. Don’t stop.
- Dream. My dream is still to make it to Boston someday. I was afraid to dream that dream for the first few years I was running. I struggled to even see myself as a “runner”. If you run, you are a runner. Don’t stop dreaming and don’t stop reaching higher.
- Eat. Running changed my body image and my entire mindset on how I see food. I workout and run because I love my body, not because I hate it. I eat food for fuel. When I don’t eat enough, I can feel it in my workouts. I enjoy a cheeseburger and french fries now and then. Fro yo is still my favorite thing ever. I worry more about the quality of calories that I am putting into my body, and less about the quantity. Some days, I’m just hungry. Run or no run, my body some days just needs more food. I’m learning to be okay with that as I get stronger. It isn’t always about how much you’re eating, but what you’re choosing to eat.
- Share. Be proud. Seek out support groups. Find a running tribe to surround yourself with. I have found that the community I have found in running has meant more than anything else. We’d love for you to join us!
A friend of my moms/of mine (it’s cool how as you grow up, you can share friends with your mom), Mary, (check her out – she’s the author of an incredible book about a Buddhist monk and his story of happiness – it’s stuffed full of tweetable lines and life lessons), posted on Facebook a few weeks ago that she was sore from her yoga class that included 108 sun salutations. WHAT?!
108 sun salutations. Who does 108 sun salutations? Turns out, a lot of yogis. I read Mary’s facebook post and wondered about both the significance of 108 sun salutations in her yoga class that morning, as well as if I could do it myself. I did a little research and learned a lot of cool stuff about the yoga world that I didn’t know, like the significance of opening our hearts to the new seasons, and letting our inner light shine. Real awesome stuff.
I am a marathoner. 26.2 miles in one stretch. It’s one of my favorite things to do, actually. So, I assumed that I would also love the challenge of 108 sun salutations. That is how marathon running started for me. I ran my first marathon because I wanted to see if I could do it. I ran my second because I was proud of myself for doing it once and wanted to see if I could do it again… and now I’m hooked.
So, I read Mary’s post again and wondered to myself, “Am I strong enough to do 108 sun salutations?? Then we took off for Lake Tahoe and I missed the summer solstice, on June 21.
In the yoga studio of our hotel, a few days late, at 5:30AM I got up to attempt my 108 sun salutations. I kept count on a piece of hotel paper with tally marks. It took me over 2 1/2 hours. But I did it! I learned a lot too, as I always do with these sorts of things.
I was more sore than I’ve ever been post marathon – my legs especially. I hobbled around for days and days and found it excruciating to lift my arms to wash my hair. It was awesome. You can do anything that you set your mind to, and I love experiences like this one, that remind me of that on the days when I’m not feeling to sure of myself.
Join me next time! There are different variations of the sun salutations that you can try. The next time I’ll be taking the 108 sun salutation challenge will be to welcome the season of autumn, on September 23. (I got that from this chart – I have no idea how accurate it is and am open to other resources if anyone knows of any.) I plan to do this to welcome all of the seasons, as the seasons-change is one of my favorite things about the midwest.
Side Effects of Marathon Training
An incomplete list of the unexpected & expected things that may happen to you while training for a marathon.
1. You may develop a strong belief in yourself. You can do it, as long as you believe you can. And that belief will come. Slowly, run by run, you will start to believe that you really can do it. This will happen during training whether you expect it to or not. Each mile further that you run, each time you tie your shoes and head out the door, you start believing in yourself a little more. All you have to do is put your mind to it, and put in the time. Training for a marathon is more about believing in yourself and believing in what your body can do than anything else. That belief in yourself is what is going to carry you through 16+ weeks of training and 26.2 miles on race day. When that belief begins to waver or falter, that is when your body is going to start to hurt. Bad. You can do it. I know you can. Just Don’t Stop Believing (and add this to your playlist right away).
2. You may have moments when you feel alone. If you can find a friend to do it with you, that is awesome and I am super jealous. Even someone to run a few miles a week with here and there. Join a club. Find a group. (Those are things that I am still working on). My husband will join me for the last few miles of my long runs and I love that. Every little bit of company that you can find, helps. The miles get long when you’re out there with just yourself. That is what I love the most about training, and also what is the toughest. Be prepared for the quiet both in training and on race day if you don’t have a running buddy. Its beautiful and scary to be alone with yourself for so long. Sometimes, you can’t see anyone ahead of you or anyone behind you. Those are the moments when believing in yourself becomes even more important. See #1.
3. You may get better at saying “No”. Sometimes, I have a hard time saying “no”. No to plans, no to work, no to the restaurant where we are headed to eat. Choosing training isn’t always easy. Friends that want to stay out late on a Friday night when you have a long run Saturday morning. Events that are scheduled on race weekend. Spur the moment dinner plans that pop-up when you’re on mile 4 of a 13 mile run. Falling asleep early. Falling asleep during the movie. You have to make the decision to choose training sometimes, and sometimes that isn’t an easy decision to make. Training has helped me to get better at saying “no” to things that aren’t good for me and my training schedule.
4. You may have less time for Netflix. I don’t watch a ton of Netflix although I am working on re-watch all of Grey’s Anatomy. You do have less time for other hobbies when you’re in training. Continue to make time for whats important to you but realize that marathon training is a big time commitment, so before you leap into a training plan, make sure you’re making room for it in your schedule.
5. Your body may change. I have found that for me, marathon training is not the best way to get the number on the scale to go down. For you, maybe it will be. The amount of miles being put in some weeks requires your body to consume more calories for fuel. I am working on those calories being good ones (fruits & veggies) and not peanut butter M&Ms. I also invested in a Fitbit scale which also measures body fat percentage. I think that is a better motivator for me than pounds right now, and something that I am working on lowering.
How else does your body change? For me, I feel strong. I am super close to being able to do 2 pull-ups which is a small victory in my book. I’m lifting heavier weights. I can run miles on miles in a row and come home and still have endless energy for the day ahead. I don’t feel like anyone could knock me over super easily. (This is my best judge of how strong I am feeling day to day. I wake up some mornings and think, “I’m strong, no one could knock me over today”. Odd, but when you’re 5’11” it’s a long way down and these are things I think about.)
6. You may start to fall in love with mornings. Morning runs rock. You learn that, throughout training. I have always loved mornings but I appreciate the benefits of a morning workout even more when I am training. Having the rest of the evening after work free to workout with my husband, or just relax is glorious!
What side effects have you run into when training for a marathon?
Please note – many side effects of marathon training may not be reported. Always consult your doctor, healthcare specialist, or running buddy for advice.