Does running a marathon sound absolutely horrible? Yes? Well, check out these finish line photos. Do I look like they want to crawl into a ball and die? Quite the contrary! I look like I'm about to explode with pride and bliss right?
Yeah, that's because I'm a really good actress. No, I'm kidding! (Kind of...) Running a marathon can be one of the most amazing experiences of your life but when I crossed the finish line of my first marathon, I didn't look anything like the pictures above. I looked traumatized, kind of like this guy.
People rarely talk about how much a marathon hurts. I know because I'm guilty of it. In 2015 I thought it would be a great idea to run back to back marathons and I ended up talking myself out of running the New York City Marathon around mile 23 of the Berlin Marathon. I was in so much pain from miles 22-26 that I decided, "NOPE. I can't do this again." Then I turned a corner, saw the finish line, burst into tears and screamed, "I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL NEW YORK!"
But that happens when you're a marathon addict, you quickly forget the hell that you endure during miles 22 through 26! Are you getting ready to run your first marathon? I know you're scared! Let's see if I can't bring your fear from a 10/10 down to an 8/10 by filling you in on all the traumatizing moments of running a marathon. Ready? Buckle your seat belts HERE WE GO!
10. Signing Up For The Marathon In The First Place.
Look! The 10th most traumatizing part about running a marathon is already behind you! Remember how scared you were when you signed up for this marathon? You survived that right? Perfect! It is only going to get infinitely worse than that! (Just kidding...kind of...)
9. Your Worst Long Training Run.
GOOD NEWS, the second most traumatizing part about running a marathon is also behind you! There is nothing worse than a terrible long run. We all experience them (some people don't, if you didn't THAT'S OK! LUCKY YOU!) but try to forget it. (Or if you can, learn from it! But don't worry if you just want to pretend it never happened.)
8. Overcoming Self Doubt.
That little voice that's telling you that you can't do it needs to shut the f*ck up! STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF! Even if you're under prepared, the worst thing you can do going into a marathon is doubt yourself. Give yourself permission to walk if you need to. Break the marathon up into a way that feels less intimidating. Some people do 10 miles, 10 miles and then a 10K. I do increments of 3 miles until I get desperate, then I focus on 1 mile at a time. The best advice is to just run the mile you're in, smile and believe in yourself.
7. Trying to Process All The Advice.
Can you be prepared? Yes. Should you seek out expert advice? Yes. Should you spend your every waking moment googling, "I'm running a marathon HELP"? NO! There's a point when the advice gets overwhelming. Just take what makes sense and put the rest into a "file after the marathon" file in your brain. I promise you, no amount of advice can prep you for the hell that is the marathon. (And I say that in a loving way. I wouldn't run marathons if they weren't fun as hell.)
6. Fueling and Un-Fueling (IE Potty Time).
Hell hath no fury like your bowels on race day. Plan on going to the bathroom as many times as you can before you start. The start line isn't going anywhere, if you have to take an extra 10 minutes to go potty, do that. If you have to stop in the middle of the race to find a bathroom, stop and go potty.
And for mid race fueling, plan your fueling strategy ahead of time. Don't know what an energy gel is? Now is a great time to try them out. Too late? Don't worry about it! You'll figure it out along the way.
5. Not Knowing What To Expect.
This is, hands down, probably the hardest part about the marathon because you are infinitely more scared of what you don't know. It's impossible to know what running 26.2 miles is like if you haven't done it. Nothing can prepare you for the terror that is the fear of the unknown. You're going to be scared, it's a given. Just come to peace with it.
4. The Second You Wake Up Until The Second You Cross The Start Line.
The 240-60 minutes that lead up to the moment you cross the start line are going to be stressful. Why? Because you are going to be very worried about your heart bursting out of your chest and running straight home. Waking up the morning of my first marathon was one of the scariest days of my life. I almost didn't get out of bed but my Dad (miraculously) said to me, "Life's made for participating. You just have to try to survive." (Which was a little f*cked up at the time because I was actually worried I might die. Why? I don't know but at the time it felt like a real possibility.) But everything is stressful and terrifying on race morning.
3. Mile 23
Mile 23 is rough because you still have an entire 5k to go but this is where it's very important to do a "glass half full over half empty" mind game. YOU ARE ONLY A 5K AWAY! Just say that until you believe it. It may take an entire mile. (And force a smile on your face while you do it. Smiling helps, BIG TIME.)
2. Mile 24
F*CK EVERYTHING you will be thinking to yourself. Don't cry and don't panic. Just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. You are going to be in a whole other world of pain at this point and you're probably going to want to stop to walk. Walk if you have to to but don't quit.
1. Mile 25
Now mile 25 is when you are going to feel like you're in that M Night Shyamalan movie about the deadly fog. Now sometimes mile 24 is harder than mile 25 because at least at mile 25 you know mile 26 is right around the corner. But I think mile 25 is more traumatizing because this is going to be the longest mile of your life. But this is also where you learn that pain and discomfort really are only temporary. You'll be at the finish line before you know it and soon enough it will all be over.
BONUS THE TWO DAYS AFTER
The hell doesn't end once you get your finisher medal, I can guarantee you are going to feel like you got run over by a bus when you wake up the next morning. Expect to be sore like you have never been sore before! Enjoy the post marathon shuffle! It's a right of passage.
The marathon isn't easy but crossing that finish line will put tears in anyone's eyes. No one runs a marathon just..."because". Every single person who runs 26.2 has something to prove, someone they're fighting for or something they are trying to achieve. There are huge stakes when you run 26.2 and even though it's traumatizing, it's one of the most incredible days of your life.
All the tears! 😂😂😂😂😂 Now live on YouTube, #RunSelfieRepeat runs the #BerlinMarathon!!!! From the expo to the finish line, watch me freak out on race day and cry all the tears when I cross the finish line!!!! Just click the link in the bio to watch! #FindYourMore (WHO'S EXCITED TO DO IY AGAIN AT THE #TCSNYCMarathon in 3 weeks!!!)
(And honestly, the hardest part about running a marathon is training for a marathon so the hardest part is already over. GO YOU!) See you on race day!
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.