• What I Learned from Running Marathons

    November 17, 2011

    Ok, my post title is a little misleading. I’ve only run two marathons, so I don’t have a ton of expertise in this area, but I can tell you what I’ve learned from training and completing those two marathons. Here are some lessons I learned about myself from running marathons:

    I love running, but not for 4+ hours.

    I love running. I really do. A nice easy run with some good music is my favorite way to relax, but running for hours and hours and hours just isn’t that much fun for me. Once I pass the 2-hour mark, I start to get bored. If I have running buddies or some amazing scenery to keep me entertained, I can usually stretch out my motivation, but, for the most part, running loses its “magic” if I do it too much.

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    I love running more than my body does.

    This one (literally) hurts to admit, but I love running more than my body does. I’ve known for a long time that my hips are misaligned from scoliosis, but I’m now starting to realize that I can’t run long distances without some pain. My body just wasn’t built to endure that kind of running. At one point, I tried working with a running coach, which helped keep my body healthy for awhile, but once I increased my mileage, injuries started popping up everywhere. It’s hard to admit that my body can’t do what I want it to do, but I can honestly say I am happy to just be able to run, so shorter distances are in my future.

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    I’m a dog runner.

    I always thought I was a cat runner, but I learned that I’m a dog runner. I love running with other people, especially on long runs, and I can’t stress enough how important it was to have running buddies to get me through my first and second marathons. I couldn’t have done it without their support. Plus, running with other people makes the time fly by and you really get to know your running buddies— no topic is off-limits when you run together for 3 hours! I’m actually thinking about joining a nearby running club, so I can run with people more often. I enjoy it so much.

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    Marathon training makes me gain weight.

    I learned a long time ago that training for a marathon doesn’t mean you’ll lose weight—or even maintain it. I gained nearly 10 pounds during my first marathon and a few pounds for my second one. Of course, I know plenty of marathoners who are slim and trim, but I’m not one of them. When I run long distances, I burn a lot of calories, which, to me, means eat a lot of calories. I eat more than my body needs, so I gain weight. Lesson learned.

    Running improves my body image.

    Even though I’ve gained pounds while training for both marathons, all of that running actually improved my body image. I wanted my body to be as fit as possible in order to cross the finish line, so the number on the scale (and even how my clothes fit) were secondary. Even though I knew I was gaining weight, I didn’t bother me that much. Of course, I’d rather not gain weight, but knowing that my body could do amazing things and run 26.2 miles made me very proud of it.

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    I’m tough.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect on the morning of the New York City Marathon. After being sick and battling injuries, I knew I was undertrained for it. Running a marathon is obviously a physical challenge, but also a mental one, and I didn’t realize just how mental it was until about mile 24. At that point in the race, I had NOTHING left, but somehow, I kept going. I still can’t believe I didn’t stop running in Central Park. I honestly didn’t think I had it in me to push past the pain to achieve my goal, but I did it! I’m tougher than I thought!

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    If I do my best, I won’t have any regrets.

    I’m not the fastest marathoner, but I did the best I could and finished Arizona and NYCM without any regrets. There were a lot of things that I couldn’t control during my training and on race day, but trying my hardest was the one thing I could control. Giving it my very best effort was all I could ever ask of myself.

    What has running taught you about yourself?

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    { 87 comments… read them below or add one }

    Mary @ Bites and Bliss November 17, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    It’s so weird that it makes us gain weight. I only ever ate a little more on the days of my really long runs and still managed to gain nearly 10 pounds in the first half of training!

    Reply

    Mary November 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Great topic Tina. Running has taught me not not to doubt myself. Not very long ago I never would have thought I could be a “real runner” and now I have a drawer full of medals and am training for my first full marathon.

    Also, I’m looking for a run group (and local run buddies) too, let me know if you want to try one out together!!!

    Reply

    Tina November 17, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Where do you live?

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    Mary November 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    @Tina: Weymouth :)

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    Tina November 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I’m thinking about going on Sunday. Are you around then?

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    Mary November 17, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    @Tina: Sure!

    Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin November 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Great post Tina! Running has taught me that if you put in the effort, you can do things you never thought you could do!

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    Tina November 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Agreed! :)

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    Robin November 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Great post! You should be so proud of what you’ve done.

    Reply

    Tina November 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm
    Luv What You Do November 17, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I did an entire post on what I learned while training for my first marathon this summer…
    http://luvwhatyoudo.wordpress.com/2011/09/24/lessons-in-marathon-training/
    There were so many to choose from. After the race, I can tell you that I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be!

    Reply

    Khushboo November 18, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Wow this is so nuts- I literally just finished a post I’m putting up tonight on what running has taught me! I love that you mentioned that you love running but not for 4 hours…I feel the same, half marathons are my max…anything more and the thought alone makes me dread it! Would you consider signing up for another marathon?

    Reply

    Kristina November 18, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Definitely relate to the “I love running more than my body does”. I would LOVE to run another marathon in this lifetime (I ran one 15 years ago!), but I just don’t think that it would be healthy. I am SO glad that I’ve entered, sort of, the world of “tri’s” because the training, while it’s harder mentally (I don’t love swimming and cycling nearly as much as running), mixing up the three disciplines is better for my body.

    Reply

    Lori November 18, 2011 at 8:04 am

    What a great post! I get feelings of insecurity when I read running blogs (and I read a lot of them) and hear them talking about running marathons and half marathons and how anything over an 8 minute mile is so slow, when I’m still running 5ks in 34 minutes! Everyone is different and that’s OK. I have no desire to run a marathon and it’s OK if I run 11 minute miles. It’s what works for me.

    I’m definitely a cat runner, but I think that goes back to my point above about being insecure. I’m afraid to run with someone else and have them see me get tired so quickly!

    Reply

    Erin November 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Amen Lori! I have no desire to run a marathon or half EVER and I feel like that’s abnormal in the blog world.

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    Erin November 18, 2011 at 8:41 am

    So glad you are giving up marathons!

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    becca @ bellebottoms November 18, 2011 at 10:26 am

    oh wow, I just finished my first marathon, and I can relate to so many of these! I battled a lack of training as well as a sinus infection during my marathon, but i managed to finish. I also have a body that doesn’t love to run as much as I do….I’ve had a broken back, and Osgood Schlatter’s disease in my knees, so my body started to quit on my around mile 15, but I still finished with only minimal walking breaks! I was so proud that the mental side totally took over for my physical side, and carried me through the rest of the race…..it’s crazy what we can do when we set our mind to it!

    Reply

    Sienna November 18, 2011 at 11:24 am

    My body doesn’t love running as much as me either. It amazes me that some people’s bodies can take so many marathons! I ran my first in May and had to do PT afterward due to terrible knee pain caused by a tight IT band. I keep wanting to start training for a half again but know my body will do better with the shorter distances.

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    Angela @ The Chicken Scoop November 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    LOVE this post!! I just picked my official training schedule today for my first marathon so this is good timing too!

    For me, I can probably already say that distance running isn’t going to be my thing forever because like you, I get bored after about 2 hours. I would love to find a running club but there aren’t many in my area (if any at all!). I am always amazed though every time I got further. Who knew I could do it?!
    ~Ang

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    Hilary November 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Awesome post! Running teaches you so much. I’m with you…I love to run, but not for THAT long. I learned though from training and completing a full marathon, half marathon, and a 25 km trail run in a year that I CAN do anything.

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    Emily November 18, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Running has taught me SO much!!! I think my biggest is to GET OVER THE WEATHER FORECAST!!! Before running marathons I would hummmhaaaw over the weather forecast and get angry about the rain, snow, wind… Now I don’t even look (why bother?)!! Often times I don’t even open my curtains before I run so it is truly a surprise : )

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    Lorin November 18, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    I am the same as you. Once I run past an hour, even sometimes less than that, I find that my knees hurt the next day. I enjoy running, but more of the relaxing aspect of it as you said. I don’t find it fun to push past enjoyment just to reach a certain distance that is acceptable or awesome to some people. Three-6 miles is enough for me. Also, I too, eat way more calories than I need when I run a lot because I think oh well I ran it off, but really I didn’t.

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    ~Christy @ wonderofallthings November 19, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    While training for my marathon a number of years ago, I ended up with a stress fracture in my foot which put me out of the race. I absolutely believe that the fracture was my body’s way of saying exactly what you said about your body…I wanted the race much more than my body did. Of course I didn’t realize that then. I simply went on to do other hugely physical things that my body continued to tell me through illness and injury that it didn’t want either. I guess I’m a bit of a slow learner… ;) perhaps part of how I learned of *my* toughness. Accepting that our bodies want something independent of our will is a hard lesson, especially in a culture that IMO overvalues pushing through. It’s invaluable to know we have the mental stamina to handle any challenge we come across. And it’s also a beautiful thing to learn to honor the body and what it can handle. Thanks for writing this piece. Sounds to me like you are finding that healthy balance and by sharing your insights with us, invites us to as well.

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    Nicole November 19, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Oh you did Team in Training? That’s awesome—you should do a post on that :)

    Reply

    Tina November 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    If you click on ‘Team In Training’ on the right side column of my blog, you’ll see about two dozens posts about TNT! :)

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    Beth November 20, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Thanks for this post and for somehow making me see that it’s okay to not want to run a marathon. I’ve run 3 halfs (just completed one this weekend) and I’m just not sure I want to go any further. Everyone always asks when I’ll run a full though, so I feel guilty not wanting to. You just made me realize that it’s okay to be where I’m at.

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    Jessica Washburn November 20, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Hey, I’m in AZ…cool beans. I say, run as much or as little as you want. You’ve proven your a champ already. Listen to your body and yeah, I’m pretty sure I’d be one of those gain weight while training types. Hope not with the half…or I’m heading in the wrong direction (scale wise). I still want to lose 10 more pounds. It’s coming off like a nuns bra…slow if at all!!

    runningtobeskinny.com

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    Amber Young April 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    I just found your Blog and I love it! Great job. I just ran my second 1/2 Marathon yesterday and PR’d by almost 20 min! (2 hrs 1 min) In so saying I hurt my knee pretty good (my mom’s a massage therapist and was called right in!) reading about your Marathon training is so inspirational and I really want to do it but…. my knee started throbbing while I was reading!!! How’s that for your subcontious? Cant wait to check out your recipe’s!

    Reply

    Kate June 11, 2012 at 1:12 am

    I know this is an older post, but you really inspired me. This is honest and practical, and I feel like it’s a post I’ll come back to again and again. Thank you.

    Reply

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