By: Leanne Rainey, McKinney Running Club
Running a marathon is indescribable. It’s kind of like becoming a parent. You don’t fully realize the magnitude of the task at hand until you’re knee-deep in it. Sure, you can train for it. I ran a 22-mile training run before my first marathon, but nothing prepared me for just how intense the entire 26.2 mile race would feel. Much like the childbirth class I attended before my first son was born, the training runs only gave me a glimpse of what was ahead.
Here are some of the things I never realized about running prior to completing a marathon:
It’s All Mental
I set a goal of running a marathon the year I turned 30. That was nine years ago and it didn’t happen. The main reason: I didn’t have the mental capacity to do it. I built up to the 6-mile distance I needed to begin an 18 week marathon program, but I had no clue that running was mental. At that time, I believed it was all physical. Today, I can tell you with the utmost confidence that running a marathon is 90% mental.
There’s Always A Lesson
Throughout the entire process, I questioned my sanity. Over and over. I wanted to quit. In fact, I almost did. I thought about quitting more times than I’d like to admit. But I kept telling myself not to. I thought of all the things I never finished in life (we all have some of those, right?) and told myself this was not going to be one of them. I thought of all the blood, sweat and tears that went into my training runs. I thought of all those months of running. The hours away from my kids on long Sunday runs. This is where I learned so much about who I was (am) as an individual. What I was capable of physically, mentally and emotionally, shocked and amazed me. It was empowering. We should all know just how much we’re capable of.
Someone Might (Will) Cry
Running a marathon is emotional. Who knew? It’s true. People are crying all over the place. At the starting line, at the finish line, in the crowd. They’re happy, scared, proud, hopped up on Gu… I’m not a big crier, but on the way home from my first marathon packet pick-up, I cried. Yes. The packet pick-up!? Nothing had even happened. Seriously, all I did was pick up my race bib and t-shirt and I was reduced to tears. But why? I was crying because I was proud. Of myself. Running gave me something to take pride in. Something I could accomplish all on my own. It had been years since I was truly proud of myself, and it felt overwhelmingly good. At the next marathon, I didn’t start to cry until after I crossed the finish line and went to take pictures of my husband as he finished. It was his first marathon. That time, my tears were for him. See what I mean? Emotional.
Humans Have an Extremely High Threshold for Pain
I knew that pain would be a part of the recovery process, but honestly, I had no idea just how much physical pain my body would be in during and after the race. It got “real” around mile 20. Someone once told me that running a marathon would be the most physically challenging thing I ever did. I didn’t believe him. I do now. Once again, I find myself comparing running a marathon to becoming a parent. Amazingly, you just seem to forget the pain. No matter how many times you question whether you will make it through the race, you carry on until it’s done. Then, it’s pure bliss when you cross the finish line and receive that medal. The pain is temporary, but the glory lasts forever.
To read more blogs written by MRC member Leanne Rainey check out her website Chasing Forty.