5 Lessons Learned During My First Marathon
I realize yesterday’s recap was a bit … dark? And I do want to share that there were so many good things about finishing my first marathon!
The volunteers and crowds in Portland were literally the best I have ever encountered! Even at the back end of the race everyone was still clapping and cheering for runners by name! I liked that the race put our name so large on the bib so that spectator’s could easily read it!
Also, while the last 8 miles or so were the toughest moments of my life (first world problem, for sure) they also made me feel really ALIVE.
The emotions you feel during a marathon are intense. I know some runners who cry while running fast and BQ’ing while others, like myself, cry just knowing we’re going to finish.
Now that I’m well rested and have replenished my calorie deficit, I’m able to reflect clearly on the marathon and have a couple of lessons to share – I think most of these apply to any tough race, not just the marathon.
1. Rely on yourself, because YOU are strong.
You don’t need motivating mantras or upbeat songs to get you through a tough race. All you need to do is rely on yourself. Even if you’re not meeting your goal times, trust your training and KNOW that you’ll get to the finish no matter what because you are strong.
I never, ever thought about quitting during the marathon because I knew the only person who could get me to the finish was myself and I had to be mentally and physically strong for ME.
2. Your body WILL go where your mind pushes it.
Remember that running is a mental sport. Whether you are super fast, a mid-packer or a back-of-the-packer running requires inner strength and an incredibly strong belief that you can do things other people think are laughably impossible.
(Photo: Best Race Signs)
When your legs feel like they can’t move your feet another step, you have to mentally shut out those thoughts and push on. I think in the marathon distance, that is something runners of all abilities can relate to.
Except for serious injury, do not stop. Just trust that your body will go where your mind pushes it because it will. At mile 18 my legs were like, “we can’t do this” but my mind said “you guys are liars” and to the finish line we went!
3. Get excited because it’s going to get better.
Do you remember your first 5K? Half marathon? Those miles were really tough, right? The marathon is no different, but just like 5Ks and 13.1s I imagine it only gets better and easier with time.
Now that I’ve had some time to rest and stretch, I’m already really excited about tackling the marathon distance again! I think I even want a redemption run in Portland … just not for a couple of years!
4. Have something planned for after the race that you can look forward to.
Last night I had dinner with two of my favorite ladies on the planet. During the marathon there were plenty of times I thought to myself, “just think in two days you’ll be sitting down, eating good food, drinking Moscato and laughing about this with Bre and Peta.”
That is exactly what I did last night and it was great! I’m really glad I had that to look forward to!
5. When you see the last (or second to last) mile marker … GO!
When I finally approached the mile 25 marker I started running hard. At that point I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had enough energy to make it to the finish no matter what and I felt I owed it to myself to leave everything on the course.
The all out run that I was doing was really more of a slow shuffle, but it was faster than I had been moving the previous handful of miles and it felt
good, okay, not too bad, manageable.
When you see that final mile marker tell yourself it’s time to give it all you’ve got – there’s no more reason to hold back!
(I hope I can follow my own advice and remember this during my next 5K!).
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a tough run / race?