6 Running Lessons I’ve Learned From My First 6 Marathons!
Inspired by my earlier post about the 10 things that I’ve learned about half marathons in my first 10 races, I’ve listed the 6 key things that I’ve learned from my marathons to date.
- Belfast Marathon 2011 – I learned that I could run 26.2 miles and not die. During those 16 weeks of training I was following the “The Non Runner’s Guide To Marathon Training” programme on my own, simply hoping that it would work. To complete it proved that I was a marathoner and could continue on and run more races!
- Belfast Marathon 2012 – By all accounts this was a truly miserable run. It didn’t stop raining for 5 hours. At the time I considered myself lucky to have never ran in torrential rain in my training for the race. Ha! That’s why I struggled so much in the race itself. Sometimes you have to train in less than ideal conditions in order to succeed when the going gets tough! That’s why there’s no such thing as ‘good’ weather as a runner. Weather is just weather. Some days it’s sunny. Other times it pours. You have to be ready for both outcomes. Don’t take it personally.
- Paris Marathon 2013 – What didn’t I learn from this experience? I went into the run with no fuel with me but a 500ml bottle of Lucozade Sport. At the halfway point I had half a banana and a sugar cube thinking that would be enough to sustain me until the end of the race. It didn’t. I crashed at mile 16 and had to walk most of the rest of the course. Drinking the equivalent of 7 pints on the night before the race wasn’t the best idea either. This was the last race that I ran in my old plastic running trousers too. During the race they had started melting into my skin. It was fucking disgusting. Ever since then I’ve always ran in shorts.
- Belfast Marathon 2013 – I learned that I’m stronger mentally than I thought previously. I hit the wall at mile 20 for the 3rd year in a row and felt completely hopeless. To get through the last 10k I used a ‘worst case scenario’ approach to running to break through the wall. I figured out that if I walked the rest of the marathon at a 15 minute mile average I’d finish in just under 5 hours. This didn’t seem so bad. Over the next 6 miles I didn’t get down on myself for the times I didn’t run, but thought positively about the times when I did. I finished in 4:37 which was way better than I was hoping for at the time! This marathon was key as I proved that I ruled the noisy doubter in my head, not the other way around.
- Dublin Marathon 2013 – This was my best marathon experience so far and it was the first time I knew that I could run a marathon from start to finish and feel great afterwards. I learned that the more marathons you run, the easier the distance becomes to handle. But…
- Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon 2013 – I went into the Vegas Marathon only 3 weeks after Dublin and I was stupidly high in confidence. I tried to set out at too quick a pace and disintegrated soon at mile 13 after stumbling in the dark and hurting my left leg. Drinking a few margaritas before the run didn’t help my cause. From all of this I learned that if you don’t respect the marathon distance then it still has the power to come back and bite you on the balls. I still finished the race though. Any finish is better than no finish!