First-time Marathoner Explains It All: 10 Things I Learned During Marathon Training

Back in April, I signed up for my first marathon. Let me preface this by saying that while I was a competitive figure skater, running during off-ice sessions helped me perfect my disappearing act. During lockdown back in 2020, I figured I should jump on the “rediscovering yourself” bandwagon and landed on running. I dabbled here and there until I got serious in summer of 2021 when I registered for a virtual half marathon. Then, I did another in January 2022. Then another – you get the picture. In April, I made the leap from half to full marathon, got a coach, worked with a sports nutritionist to learn about fueling, and in January, I completed all 26.2 miles. During this time, I learned a lot. But, for the sake of everyone’s sanity, here are 10 things I learned during my training. Maybe you’ll be inspired. Or maybe help you reconsider going on that initial run (it’s a gateway jog!).

10 Things I Learned Training for My First Marathon

  1. Training in Florida’s Summer Sucks: This one is for my Floridians. It’s hot. It’s humid. You sweat in places you didn’t even know could. When will I grow gills? Of course, I don’t have to worry about running through ice and snow, but make sure you consider the weather no matter where you’re training.
  2. Waking up at 4:30 AM Sucks, Too: Did I mention this includes the weekends? It’s dark. It’s still humid 90% of the year. I’m not a morning person (barely a person, actually). I’m sorry for everything I’ve said to anyone I may have met up with during these runs.
  3. If You’re New, Get A Coach or Do Your Research: I didn’t know anything about running or nutrition for runners, so I found a wonderful coaching staff at Run4PRs who got me to the start (and finish!) line on two feet. Now, I can at least pretend I know what I’m doing with confidence.
  4. Carbs Are Good; You Need to Eat Like an Athlete: I hated carbs, but as an athlete, I had to learn how to suck it up and embrace them. Now, I think I’m 78% carbs, 6% water, 16% anxiety.
  5. Fueling During Long Runs is Hard: If you’re running around 90 minutes or longer, you finally have an excuse to eat while working out! There’s nothing quite like oozing warm, tarlike flavored sugar into your mouth while running. If you can do that without tripping, dropping the gel, gagging, or heaving, you’ve got to be a witch.
  6. Practice Fueling During Long Runs: Warm sugar goo may not work for you (don’t worry – there are more than enough brands to try if you’re determined enough). Crackers, gummies, waffles, dates, bananas – anything with high carbs can work! Just test it multiple times before a race. This also goes for hydrating! If you are new to endurance running, you may shoot yourself in the face with your new handheld bottle.
  7. Not All Gels Are Gross (just keep telling yourself that…): You may find your golden gel. But make sure you have backup fuel planned for your race. Nerves can do terrible things to your stomach on race day and you do not want to find yourself unable to take any fuel from mile 14 and on. 12 miles without fuel can be pretty miserable. Trust me.
  8. Get Fitted for Shoes: Treat your feet as though your income is solely from showing them off on OnlyFans. Runners’ feet aren’t cute (neither are figure skaters’ – FYI). Make sure you are wearing the shoe that’s best for you by getting fitted at a running store. You’d be surprised what you learn.
  9. Running is Infectious #sorrynotsorry: It’s a privilege to watch my colleagues, friends, and family embrace their running journeys. Thank you for joining the crazy and welcome to the Dark Side – we have gels.
  10. You Will Find A Running Family: I made an amazing friend who I now run with most of the time. We build each other up and understand the need to immediately register for another marathon three hours after finishing one. I have also been fortunate to have a beautiful running family at the office where we compare runs in the morning before getting down to business.

Here’s a bonus: Not all runners lose toenails during marathons or training. I still have all 10 intact – sadly, my sanity is long gone.

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