This weekend marks two years since my first marathon, the Colfax Marathon in beautiful Denver back in 2015. I’ve learned so much since that first race and can’t believe that next week I will be running in beautiful Edinburgh for my 7th marathon. It seems like everything has been a whirlwind and it has me feeling all the feels lately.
Everyone has their favorite distance and right now the marathon is mine. There is something about the marathon distance that’s so impactful, illusive and beautifully painful. I don’t know how else to explain it.
Want to read about my marathon experiences?
- Colfax Marathon 2015
- Chicago Marathon 2015 <– a beautiful day for a marathon
- WDW Marathon 2016 <– longest marathon of my life
- Chicago Marathon 2016 <– current PR
- New York City Marathon 2016 <– #1 race experience of all time!
- Walt Disney World Marathon 2017 <– as part of the Dopey Challenge
Today I thought I would share what I’ve learned since Colfax. Every runner’s journey is different and the incredible thing is that running allows you to grow and change through different distances, training cycles, locations and race day experiences.
Race Day Jitters
I used to get really nervous before a race especially for my first couple marathons. I would put so much pressure on myself and stress over every little detail. Over time and through practice I’ve overcame all those race day jitters. As a result I enjoy racing more and my race day experiences have improved greatly.
During my first marathon training cycle, I ate pretty much anything and everything. As a result, I gained weight which made me unhappy and my body didn’t recover as fast as it probably should have. Knowing what to eat, when to eat it and why to eat certain things makes all the difference.
Mental Toughness & Mantras
It’s easy to underestimate how much mental strength it takes to run a marathon. I didn’t train myself to overcome the mental obstacles of that first marathon and it showed. Now I make a point to flex my mental toughness and use mantras during training runs and at build up races during my training cycles.
Want ways to improve your mental toughness for race day? Read HERE.
Marathons Are More Than PRs
Not every race or marathon should be a PR. In fact my top two favorite race experiences are a far cry from my PR time. It’s important to set big goals and push yourself, but you should never lose sight of being proud of just finishing a marathon because that is a huge accomplishment. I have also learned that some races are best experienced without the pressure to PR. It’s okay to just want to finish the thing, soak up the experience or have fun.
Self Love & Forgiveness
During my first marathon training cycle, I stressed a lot. I worried that if I missed a pace or workout I wouldn’t be ready on race day. Looking back I can see how silly that was and have since learned to love myself and forgive myself for not being perfect and move on. Who would want to be perfect anyways?!
Speed Work Makes Your Dream Work
On the build up to Colfax I didn’t know what speed work was or how to do it. I didn’t understand that every run shouldn’t be at the same pace either. Speed work teaches you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and thus helps you know your goal paces for race day.
Balance & Sacrifice
This ties in with self love, but I am finally finding a bit of balance in my training. It’s easy to throw everything into training and lose your life, but I’ve learned I’m so much happier and I perform better when there is a balance. Sometimes that means doing a little strength training at work or getting my long run done during the week so I have more time with the Mr. on weekends when he’s free. Other times that means cutting a run short because I mentally need time with friends on a Saturday.
It’s important to identify what you are willing to sacrifice and what you aren’t. This will be different for everyone, but for me it’s about trying to achieve balance and doing what makes sense without feeling guilty.
Nothing teaches you more about yourself than distance running and running a marathon. As Edinburgh approaches I’m feeling more excited than ever to see what it holds for me.
What have you learned since your first marathon or race?
Can you relate to any of the points I’ve identified?