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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?