Eight weeks ago when I started training for a marathon I asked,
“How hard can it be?”
In this day and age running a marathon is not considered that big a deal. People do so much more than just run 42.2km. Look at people who run ultra marathons or marathoners who run 50 marathons in 50 days, or the 7x7x7 event where runners run 7 marathons on 7 different continents in 7 days.
But you know what it is a big deal and it is much harder than I thought it would be. I have learnt so much during the last 8 weeks, including:
1. Nutrition is important
I have learnt it is important to get the nutrition right. If, like me, you suffer from IBS or just a dodgy tum this can take a bit of trial and error but it needs to be sorted or you are in a world of trouble (see my previous blog “The case of the exploding bum and other stories”).
A training buddy of mine lent me the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. The author goes on a quest to find the Tarahumara tribe who live in the Copper Canyons of Mexico and are rumoured to be the greatest runners of all time. In the book it briefly mentions a chia seed drink that the tribe take before they run. So googling Tarahumara and chia seeds (as you do) led me to a great blog called The No Meat Athlete. The No Meat Athlete has read the same book and made up his version of the drink. http://www.nomeatathlete.com/tarahumara-pinole-chia-recipes/
So I tried it before my long run and seriously it really worked! It may be placebo but I don’t care, it feels like it gives me a boost of energy, it’s all healthy ingredients and it doesn’t mess with your digestion. Win win! Try it and then let me know if you felt any different on your run.
2. Marathon training is as much a mental test as a physical one.
If you are getting the kms in and doing the right amount of training runs you would think that would give you the strength and endurance to do a marathon, right? Turns out though, you need to be as strong mentally as physically. If you pit two runners against each other who are physically the same and have done the same amount of training, the one who believes in their ability and doesn’t doubt themselves will undoubtedly do better. The negative head chatter can really mess you up if you don’t have the ability to shut it up!
3. Time is all relative
For the first time in my life I really don’t care about the time I do a race in. I just want to finish the race feeling like I had a good race and didn’t hit the dreaded wall. Unless you are an elite athlete it’s not like you are trying to win the race. Most people just want to do a good time for them. What might be a good time for me might be really slow for others or vice versa. But you know? No-one really cares. Everyone wants everyone else to do their own best time.
4. Running with a group is a tremendous bonding experience.
I have talked before about the joy of running with my running buddies and catching up on each other’s lives. In our time poor world it is great to be able to catch up with friends and train at the same time.
In my long run this week my running group and I ran 28kms, the furthest most of us have ever run. We had all ran the same route (except for Linda who frequently gets lost and ends up running 5 kms more than she should have) and probably all had the same thoughts, head chatter, doubts, fears etc (except Geoff who is a little bit odd and really God knows what goes on in his head!)
It felt like a real shared experience for me, like we had all been through the same battle and lived to tell the tale.
I really admire people who can train on their own for a marathon but for me one of the greatest joys has been the shared experience with my running group. We have supported and helped each other and will continue to do so until race day and that alone is making the whole thing worth it. (I have to add the caveat though, I am never doing this again!!!)