WHAT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN YOU RUN A MARATHON

I RAN MY 5TH MARATHON THIS PAST SUNDAY. ALTHOUGH A PERSONAL BEST BY THE TIME ON THE CLOCK, I KNOW IT WASN'T MY PERSONAL BEST YET ACHIEVED. BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT I'M HERE TO TALK ABOUT. I'M HERE TO DISCUSS WHAT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN YOU RUN A MARATHON.

IN SHORT, YOU LAUGH, YOU CRY, YOU MAY PEE A LITTLE AND ULTIMATELY YOU CHALLENGE YOURSELF IN SO MANY MORE WAYS THAN JUST PHYSICAL. BUT IT'S SO, SO WORTH IT.

IF YOU'RE WONDERING IF IT GETS EASIER THE MORE MARATHONS YOU COMPLETE, THE ANSWER IS NO. TRUTHFULLY, RUNNING 26 MILES AS FAST AS YOU CAN WILL NEVER REALLY BE EASY. BUT THE MORE YOU RUN, THE MORE YOU CAN BE READY FOR WHATEVER MAY HAPPEN. AS YOU PROGRESS YOU'RE LIKELY BUILDING CONFIDENCE AND STAMINA, TWO OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TRAITS TO DISTANCE RUNNING. THE SECOND EITHER OF THOSE QUALITIES STARTS TO TETER TOWARDS EMPTY, YOU'RE DONE FOR. I LIKE TO COMPARE RUNNING A MARATHON TO THE 5 COMMON STAGES OF GRIEF. 

DENIAL

FROM THE SECOND THAT GUN GOES OFF, YOU'RE FEELING CONFIDENT. THE CROWD AROUND YOU IS LOUD AND EXCITED AND EVERYONE IS PRETTY MUCH READY TO GO. AS THE FIRST SEVERAL MILES OF THE RACE PROGRESS, YOU FEEL GREAT, STRONG AND CONFIDENT THERE'S NO WAY YOU WON'T SECURE A PERSONAL BEST. BUT AS THE MILES CONTINUE, THE MORE AND MORE YOU FIND YOURSELF DENYING THE FACT THAT YOUR LEGS ARE GETTING TIRED AND MAYBE THE RACE WON'T TURN OUT THE WAY YOU'VE IMAGINED. YOU KEEP YOUR PACE, EVEN WHEN A CRAMP CREEPS UP ON YOU, KNOWING THERE'S NOTHING THAT WILL STOP YOU FROM NOT ONLY RUNNING THE RACE YOU TRAINED FOR, BUT ALSO RUNNING A RACE YOU'VE ENVISIONED YOURSELF COMPLETING OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

ANGER

AT THIS POINT, IT'S ABOUT HALF WAY THROUGH THE COURSE AND YOU START TO NOTICE SOME STRANGE AILMENTS. STOMACH PAINS YOU'VE NEVER EXPERIENCED DURING TRAINING, BLISTERS, MAYBE JUST PLAIN DEHYDRATION OR FATIGUE AND YOU START TO GET ANGRY. ANGRY AT YOURSELF AND THE WEATHER AND THE STOMACH ACHE THAT'S KEEPING YOU FROM PUSHING ON AT YOUR FULL POTENTIAL. SO YOU PRETTY MUCH DO ANYTHING YOU CAN TO KEEP YOURSELF GOING, ALL THE WHILE CHANNELING THAT ANGER INTO ENERGY TO PUSH FORWARD.

BARGAINING

IF YOU'VE EVER RAN LONG DISTANCE, BARGAINING IS PROBABLY A FAMILIAR TACTIC. PRETTY MUCH THE ENTIRE RACE YOU'RE CALCULATING MILES AND FIGURING OUT THE BEST WAY TO CONCEPTUALIZE RUNNING ALL 26. MY PLAN FOR THIS PAST RACE WAS TO TAKE IT EASY THE FIRST 5K (DIDN'T QUITE HAPPEN) PICK UP THE PACE A BIT FOR THE NEXT 10K (DID HAPPEN AND FELT GREAT) LEVEL OFF FOR A BIT FOR THE NEXT 7 - 11 (WAS STRONG AND STAYED WITH THE 3:40 PACE GROUP FOR A WHILE UNTIL A WEIRD IG ISSUE KICKED IN) AND THEN TRY TO REALLY RACE THE LAST 10K (HA!) WELL, I KNEW AT MILE 14 MY PLAN WASN'T EXACTLY WORKING OUT, SO I STARTED BARGAINING WITH MYSELF. 'OKAY, ONLY 6 MORE MILES TO 20, THEN A SHORT REST AND THEN EXPLODE TO THE FINISH...FORGET ABOUT THE MILES YOU'VE RUN ALEADY, THAT'S IN THE PAST, BE PRESENT...' IF YOU'RE LIKE ME, THIS IS ALL TOO FAMILIAR.

DEPRESSION

IT'S SO EASY TO LET THE MARATHON DISTANCE GET TO YOU. WHEN ALL YOU CAN THINK ABOUT IS RUNNING THAT FAR, PEOPLE PASSING YOU, PEOPLE BEAT ON THE SIDELINES, IT ALL GETS TO YOU. AND YOU START TO WEAR YOURSELF DOWN. IN REALITY, YOU KNOW THIS IS YOUR RACE, NOT ANYONE ELSE'S. SO IT'S IMPORTANT TO FOCUS ON YOU AND NOT ALL THAT'S HAPPENING AROUND YOU. BUT AT THIS POINT IN THE RACE, SAY MILE 18 OR SO, YOU'RE BEAT. YOU'RE TIRED AND YOU KNOW YOU NEED TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD AND CONSERVE ALL THE ENERGY YOU HAVE LEFT TO PUSH THROUGH THE REST OF THIS RACE. BUT IT'S SO HARD TO REALLY FOCUS WHEN YOU'RE BUMMED ABOUT HOW THINGS HAVE UNFOLDED SO FAR, SO YOU HAVE THIS INTERNAL BATTLE UNTIL SOMEHOW YOU FIND A WAY TO SHUT IT ALL OUT AND FOCUS ON THE NOW.

ACCEPTANCE

WITH ANY LUCK (+ FOCUS AND DETERMINATION), YOU REALIZE THE MOMENT YOU'RE IN AND ACCEPT THE THINGS YOU CANNOT CHANGE AND KNOW THAT FROM THAT MOMENT ON, YOU DO WHAT YOU CAN AS BEST AS YOU CAN FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN- AND SOON IT WILL ALL BE OVER. THAT LAST 10K IS THE HARDEST 10K YOU'VE EVER RAN, BUT ONCE YOU COME UPON THAT LAST MILE AND CHANGE, YOU RUN. YOU RUN WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE AND BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, YOU'VE CROSSED THE FINISH LINE.

 

IT'S A TRICKY THING, RUNNING A MARATHON. AND I FEEL IT ONLY GETS TRICKIER THE MORE YOU RUN. EACH RACE TEACHES YOU A LESSON. AND THIS RACE TAUGHT ME THAT I AM CAPABLE OF ACHIEVING MY GOAL, BUT I NEED TO PUT IN A BIT MORE WORK IN ORDER TO GET THERE. THIS RACE, LIKE ALL MARATHONS I'VE EVER COMPLETED, WAS HUMBLING. AND IT MADE ME RESPECT THE DISTANCE MORE THAN I EVER HAVE BEFORE. COMPLETING A MARATHON IS ONE THING, RUNNING IT IS ANOTHER.