What Marathon Training Has Taught Me

I don’t know if I’ll like running a marathon. 26.2 miles might be too much for me. I plan to find out on Saturday.

But I do know that I have loved training for this marathon.

Many people may disagree. When I was debating whether or not I even wanted to attempt a marathon, lots of runner friends said, “training takes over your life.”

Sure, it can…but only if you let it.

Over the past 20 or so weeks, there have been times when I’ve completely given in and let training take over. I don’t remember the last time I got sufficiently drunk on a Friday night and I can’t recall the last Friday night dinner that didn’t include some hefty form of carbohydrates.

But on Saturday nights? Sure. Game on. One long run never meant the rest of my weekend was shot. After one long run, I got a little tipsy and took a trapeze class.

Throughout training, I’ve learned many lessons. Some I’ve learned the hard way. For example, just because someone tells you that Vanilla Bean Gu tastes like frosting, that doesn’t mean you should trust them, because when you eat it expecting a side of Funfetti, you will be sorely disappointed.

And then you will vomit Gu.

Without further ado, here is what marathon training has taught me:

Having a coach to guide you through your first marathon is the best way to go. I know I’m very lucky to have had Coach Cane as my mentor, guide and life coach throughout this process.

Coach Cane is the best. He always lets me take his photo.

Yes, I have lots of marathoner buddies who could have helped me pick a training plan and answered some of my questions, but I felt so confident that Coach Cane, a badass and an expert, was there for me when I needed him. I trusted him with my training from the first day we met, and now, three days away from the race, I know that he prepared me as best he could so that I can crush this race.

Running coaches are expensive, and I am so grateful to JackRabbit for affording me this luxury.

Celebrities like Central Park, too. During my training, I saw a handful of famous faces getting their own sweat on in the park. My favorite sighting was Heidi Klum.

There she is, looking dazzling as always.

What you eat is just as important as what you don’t eat. There are foods I avoid thanks to the ol’ bitch Crohn’s disease. Goodbye, corn. Goodbye, fried stuff. Goodbye, pizza. For a while I was very concerned with what I wasn’t eating. But training has taught me that the most important thing to think about is what I am eating.

Fish & veggies & plastic plates, oh my!
Hello, box of carbs. You look delicious.

I’ve been so much more aware of what goes into my body lately. I no longer think of food as a summation of calories that will potentially make me gain weight. I now see food as fuel. The better I eat, the longer and faster I can run.

Runners get cool gear. Sneakers are nice. Watches are fancy. Outfits make me happy. And sweat bands sent from nice friends? Very, very bueno.

Fact: Wearing a green sweatband underneath your watch is way more comfortable than just wearing the watch on your sweaty skin.

I sweat more than the average human. I’ve been told that healthy people sweat more. So I guess my constant forearm sweat is a good thing? Also sexy? Boob sweat. Just saying.

True story. Obviously.

Not every race will be a PR. I had a really hard time with this lesson. For a while, I was banging out awesome races like it was no big deal, throwing down PR after PR. It was an amazing feeling, and since I’m still pretty new to running, I just assumed that was how it was supposed to go. You keep running, you keep improving, you keep getting super speedy.

False, Ali. So false.

The Brooklyn Half Marathon was my first tough race. I stopped twice to go to the bathroom and wasn’t too pumped with my performance. It was my first non-PR, but I knew that my stomach was the main factor, not my legs or my running efforts.

But then I ran two more races and continued to not break records. I didn’t understand and I got really down on myself.

Eventually a good, even sweatier friend helped me realize that it’s OK not to PR every time. In fact, even Ironman badasses and Olympic runners don’t always PR.

I hated learning this lesson, honestly. But it still makes the list.

It’s OK to run a race for fun every now and then. I will probably never win a race, but I still take it pretty seriously. I don’t show up on race day hoping for a “good time.” If I have fun and I smile when I cross the finish line, that’s great. But most days I’d rather go balls to the wall in an effort to beat whatever previous time I’ve set.

Last weekend, I ran a race with a coworker. It was her first race and it was fun. I wasn’t running it for me — I was running it with her.

Michael and me before the race. She was cute with her bun and also her sneakers are way cooler than mine.

So while I do take racing seriously, the FITNESS 4-miler showed me that racing can be intense, but it doesn’t always have to be stressful.

Training is better — and easier — when you have a strong support team. My family, my friends and total strangers have made this experience the best one of my life.

My brother and parents may not think running for three hours at a time — at 5 am on a Saturday, no less — is a good time, but they respect that that’s my idea of fun. My mom texted me every Saturday morning asking how my run went and my brother has become my biggest blog fan. (Thanks for the comments on yesterday’s post by the way — big bro is feeling pretty loved.)

My non-runner friends always ask how training is going, and two of them are even coming out for the race this weekend.

And then there are my runner friends… The ones who are always willing to meet me at Engineer’s Gate at 6:15 am…

The Sweat Squad, out in full force.

…and the ones who take me on long runs when I visit their hometowns.

My first 20-miler in D.C. = SUCCESS
10 miles down in Boston!

And, of course, the ones who never turn down an evening at 16 Handles.

Last night at 16 Handles = perfection.

The people I love have supported me, guided me, pushed me, encouraged me, motivated and inspired me and donated to my cause. It really doesn’t get much better than that. (Thank you all, by the way. You make my life better every day.)

Some people won’t be happy for you. That’s just the way it is. Some people will hear that you’re running a marathon and they’ll think that’s cool and ambitious. Other people won’t understand, won’t see the value in what you’re doing and may not support your efforts. If running a marathon is important to you, these people don’t matter.

Running isn’t supposed to be easy. Yeah, sometimes you do easy runs. This morning I ran 4 miles at the slow pace Coach Cane asked for. It didn’t feel particularly challenging. But Tuesdays were devoted to speedwork and Thursdays were some sort of hill or tempo challenge. The long runs came on Saturdays and none of those were exactly easy. I’ve never been big on mantras, but lately when it starts to hurt, I remind myself, “It’s not supposed to be easy.”

Marathon training is exhausting. Sometimes you will fall asleep in the middle of the day, in the middle of the floor.

Oh look. I passed out. On the floor. In the middle of the day. In a really awkward position.

It happens.

You will claim that the taper isn’t making you crazy, but it is. As I walked through my neighborhood last night with my very, very nice and understanding boyfriend, he acknowledged that I’ve been “really good” throughout my marathon taper. “I know!” I replied. “I haven’t done anything beyond what Coach Cane wants and I’m keeping busy and staying sane!”

Fast forward 10 minutes: Ali and boyfriend arrive at Ali’s apartment. Ali checks emails. Ali freaks out. Ali tries to hold back tears. Ali refuses to look boyfriend in the eye because then the tears will become real. Ali takes long, sad shower while boyfriend sits alone on couch. Ali can’t fall asleep because she is having anxiety about things she can’t control. Boyfriend loses sleep because Ali won’t shut up. In the morning, Ali buys boyfriend some pineapple in an attempt to make up for her taper crazies. Ali blogs with fingers crossed, hoping she still has a boyfriend.

Stay tuned.

I am F-ing insane sometimes. Dang it.

Your training is your training. No one else’s. If you get caught up comparing your splits and distances to other runners, you will go crazy. Focus only on what you’re doing and how you can become a better runner. Who cares how fast your friend is? Who cares if your friend is running a different race that’s weeks before yours so she’s running 20 miles the same day you’re “only” doing 16. Don’t get caught up in the ugly comparison trap. It isn’t helpful and it’s a waste of your time.

Cross training is nice, but running is better. Yes, a spin class or a strength class every now and then was helpful and surely rounded out my training. But I definitely found that to become a better runner, I just needed to run. Novel concept.

And I run, I run so far awaaaaay. Is it "run" or "ran?" I have no idea. But I dig karaoke.

Marathon training will push your limits in the very best way possible. Four years ago I couldn’t run a mile, and this weekend I will attempt to cover 26.2. It’s an incredible feeling.

Other brief lessons:

  • It’s OK if you plan your long run routes around public bathrooms.
  • Some days you will spend way too much time waiting for your Garmin to locate a dang satellite. Don’t throw your watch, no matter how angry you get. It doesn’t help. I promise.
  • You may have to wake up really early in order to get your run in before work. Don’t complain. Just do it. Get it done so you don’t miss your run or have to squeeze it in late at night when the murderers lurk in Central Park (just a theory of mine). The sunrise and a morning sweat are way more effective than a cup of coffee. Promise, again.
  • Stick to your training plan. If something comes up — an injury, for example — and you have to adapt, OK. But if you have a plan, do what it says. Don’t make excuses.
  • Marathon training will either make you a total bitch or it won’t. That’s up to you.

I am really sad my training is ending. That is all.

Good times.

NOW OBVIOUSLY I WANT TO KNOW: What has training for a race — not necessarily a marathon! — taught you?



0 Responses

  1. It has taught me commitment. Right now I haven’t run in 5 days because of working 12-14 hours a day. I ran 4.5 miles today and felt better, but still behind. Commitment hurts. Sometimes I let me training down, but I know it’ll never let me down. I was thinking of you today, GOOD LUCK SATURDAY! It’s going to be awesome. I can’t read blogs until I finish my project (Monday) but wanted to say you’re inspiring and I can’t wait to read your race report! Go get your sweat on!

  2. I can definitely relate to the not PR-ing every race thing — I’m new to running, too, so, at first, every race was a PR. And, then it wasn’t….its made me appreciate when I do have a really good race so much more.

    I think marathon training has mostly taught me about balance. In order to enjoy my training the most, I have to take care of my body and make sure its ready for what I’m going to put it through each day.

    In terms of running, the mental side is where I’m a crazy person and I learn a lot about being present, getting rid of negative thoughts, etc each time I race.

    1. Oh, also, GOOD LUCK Sat and, like several people said, enjoy it. I hope you walk away with a good experience and memories. To ease my anxiety for NYC, i’ve told myself that “I’m training for a goal, but racing for an experience.”

  3. wise words my friend. 🙂

    To me, conquering the mental aspect of marathon training has been my favorite part. It’s always a battle, but nothing beats the feeling of accomplishing a long run. That we can fuel and train our body to run for hours and hours is just pure amazing. As much as I hate it sometimes, I love it.

  4. I love this post! You’ve definitely kept me motivated in training for my first race, which is in a few weeks. I’m anxious waiting for the weekend and will be cheering you on from home. Good luck with the last few days of the taper and mental preparation.

  5. “Marathon training will either make you a total bitch or it won’t.”

    Yup. That’s it, isn’t it? Anyone can race. They don’t have ID checks at registration to see if you are motivated or un-whiny or fit enough to do it. So racing, and the training behind it, isn’t the whole accomplishment. It’s the process, and the end result (in yourself, I’m talking about, not a friggin’ t-shirt) that is what is meaningful. It sounds like you nailed it. Or sort of. Besides the Gu thing.

  6. Marathon training sure does teach a lot of lessons and I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed it. People say that you can do ANYTHING if you can run a marathon and they’re right, especially doing it with the drive, goodwill and fight I’m sure you’ll show Saturday.

    I’m sure you’ll learn even more when actually running your marathon. I wrote this post after finishing my fifth marathon a few years ago: http://alexandramarieb.wordpress.com/2009/11/15/the-marathon-metaphor/

  7. This is an awesome post!!! I am TOTALLY bookmarking this to refer to when I train for my first 26.2!! Ahhh, even just saying that gets me SO excited. I guess it’s time to bite the bullet and choose a dang race to commit to, huh??

  8. I’m 10 days away from my second half…and I’ve realized there is no need to panic if I can’t stick to every part of the training plan precisely as outlined. I used to flip out if I missed a run or changed things up, but my husband reminded me that it’s just a plan. The point of the plan is to make sure I have the endurance/aerobic fitness level needed to do the half. It’s really helped relieve stress to focus on how I’m actually doing as far as physical preparedness and not get too wrapped up in the fact that there are four runs not checked off on my spreadsheet.

  9. “Your training is your training.” This one is my favorite. I am slower than most of my other runner friends/blends and every once in a while I feel embarrassed. But I still put in the work, so it shouldn’t count any less, right?

  10. I have 38 days left to my first marathon, MCM, and i absolutely love this entry. Thanks so much for an amazing post. Hmm what has marathon training taught me….that I can overcome. That i can persevere. Despite injuries, illnesses, fears, and second guessing, i can do and will do this!

  11. Training for races showed me a side of myself I never knew before—the sweaty, determined, athletic side! There is nothing like running to boost my spirits and give me confidence in myself.

    Ali—you’re going to rock this thing!!!

  12. I’m currently training for my first half marathon which is in October. I’m definitely still learning the ropes on what is all involved with training for a long distance race. So far I’ve learned that not every run is going to be a good run. Last Saturday, I had one of the best runs of my life (and my longest), and I enjoyed every minute of it even though it rained the entire time. Yesterday, I went on an easy 4 mile run and it was awful (stomach screaming bloody murder, I have Crohn’s, too and you’re right, she is a bitch!). But I learned from my run yesterday that I’m going to have to really pay attention to what I eat before my runs (and it can’t be oatmeal apparently). Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. I love this post and am infinitely sad I did not see you this morning 🙁

    Training is the best. It has taught me that even when I think I have limits in terms of speed, mileage, mental ability to handle X, whatever, I can exceed them if I really want to. It has also really taught me that I just love getting out there and running. Every day I get to do that is awesome. I have also learned where all of the bathrooms in Central Park and Riverside Park are and what time they open. 🙂

  14. Great insight on your marathon training and what it has taught you! I have really enjoyed following your progress and reading about the highs and the lows. I am terrified to try Gu now because of you though!

    Training for my first half marathon with my husband has taught me that I need to rely on my mental toughness more than my physical toughness at times. I am getting better at that, but I still need to work on it! I am really proud of myself for conquering different challenges along the way.

    I have also learned that sometimes my body does need a break and that I need to take it easy so that I don’t get injured. Some pain can be ignored, but other pain cannot.

    I am so excited for you and I can’t wait to read all about it!

  15. I love all your posts, but the ones you’ve been putting up this week are truly inspiring and insightful. Thank you so much for being such an inspiration as I train for my first race with double-digit mileage.

    I think the one thing I’ve learned while training for the Army 10 Miler is that I am capable of pushing myself past my comfort zone. When I was younger, I ran for 3-4 miles max. My main event was the 400m dash in track. I knew the pain would only last for less than a minute so it was tolerable. Hurting for 7, 8, 9, 10+ miles seemed out of the question.

    When I moved to DC four years ago, I had a goal to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. Each year, I found myself making excuses as to why I couldn’t register. Then, earlier this year I started running – really running – again. I trained and completed the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K and I felt strong, happy, and wanted to challenge myself even more.

    A couple weekends later I volunteered at the Girls on the Run 5K and watched all these young girls and their families come together to run. I felt inspired. Registration for the Army 10 Miler opened that morning, and I found myself pulling out my iPhone to register right there at the GOTR 5K. I knew it would be tough. I knew I would have to run distances I’d never run before. But I felt a bit more confident in my ability to do so… to push past the pain and out of my comfort zone.

    With the help of blogs like yours, I’ve stayed motivated and committed to my training plan. I’ve left the excuses at the door. I’ve “suffered” through runs in 110-degree weather, on vacations (including a NYC route you helped me plan!), and on business trips. In three weeks, I’ll be lining up to start my first race with double-digit mileage and I couldn’t be more excited.

    I can’t wait to read your race recap after this weekend, Ali. You are going to do an amazing job!!! I know it will only provide more inspiration as I get ready for my own race.

  16. Good post! I have been very fortunate to have an amazing support group of runner friends that are very encouraging and uplifting. I think that is so important. I am so glad that you have enjoyed your training and that you have such an awesome coach! It really keeps you going. Training has definitely changed my life and I wouldn’t do anything differently. I have been running marathons for 3 years now and went from running on the treadmill in the gym to becoming a coach to other runners. I am so glad you have enjoyed your journey! I have certainly enjoyed reading about your adventure! 🙂

  17. The biggest thing training for my first marathon taught me was how much I enjoyed training and how little I enjoyed the actual race. My second marathon I enjoyed a bit more. It was not until my fifth that I truly enjoyed the race too, not just the training. Hopefully you have the best time of your life during the race, but I think the most important part is that you enjoyed the process that got you there! Good luck! You will be awesome!!

  18. What a great post! I am so excited I am just 7 weeks behind you on my first marathon and I love all that you said! I busted out laughing at my desk with the funfetti comment! Nothing can compare to funfetti, and if there was a GU out there that tasted like it I would be in heaven! You are going to rock out this marathon!!! Good luck!!!

  19. Love this.. espeically the Don’t throw your Garmin part. I almost chucked mine into the pond at my complex once.

    I am training for my first half.. and it has taught me to be flexible. I am someone who sticks to aplan no matter what. But when I can barely walk.. an 11 mile run probably isn’t the best idea. So something that was supposed to happen one day .. can happen another day. I have also learned that I LOVE early morning work out and am kicking myself for not going to the gym before work today. But thats no excuse.. I’ll be there after work!

    I can’t believe you race is SO close YAYYYY

  20. I’ve been reading your blog since early winter and I’ve loved seeing you grow as a runner. Even if you decide that 26.2 miles isn’t your favorite race distance, the fact that you’ve had such an awesome experience training is the most important thing.

    Also, I’m not training for NYCM, so some weekend after your race, I say we get ourselves mucho wine. Also delicious food and froyo. And unlike everybody else we can stay up late because no 20-miler the next morning, huzzah. sound good?

  21. Great lessons to keep in mind as I train for my first marathon as well! Having a coach is so great (as I did for my first half), and the things you learn will carry you through training for future races.

    Side note to sweat fans: My aqua “I Heart Sweat” shirt came yesterday and is a tad too short/snug for me! It’s a size small. Please get in touch if you have a women’s size medium or even large (any color) that you’d like to trade with me! (devonamills on Twitter)

  22. I’m sad that your training is coming to an end, my first half mary is 10 days away and I’m gonna miss reading your training blogs. You’ve been such an insperation, good luck at your marathon. Quit freaking out, you’re gonna do fine, you trained your little ass off!

  23. Running has taught me I am stronger than I know. Even when I was running a marathon during a flare-up, my training made it possible for me to still finish. That strength finds its way into every aspect of my life and I am grateful for that.

  24. Thanks for such a great post! A lot of your lessons I am feeling right now – smack in the middle of my first marathon training. It’s always great to read a post from someone else who’s going through the same thing – makes me feel less Fing crazy.

  25. Awesome post!!! I would also add that there is [almost] no greater feeling than when you inspire someone else to start running. I’ve had a few (I think four so far) friends tell me that I have inspired them to start a couch to 5K program. It was so awesome to know that I have inspired others to take on such a healthy habit. Even though a couple of them haven’t really committed to their C25K plans, it’s still awesome to know that the desire is at least there. And whenever the first of them actually does a 5K, it will be even cooler!

    And those friends totally make up for all the “just don’t get it” friends. Who respond to all of my stories about running with reasons why they will never take up running. As if I’m trying to convert everyone (OK, maybe I am but I know that’s not realistic.)

  26. I think I’ve learned that I can’t box myself in. I’m constantly surprised at what my body is able to do. And to think I used to be scared about going out for a 15-mile run!

    However, marathon training does suck a lot of my free time. I think I’ve learned that I’d like to start concentrating on speedier, shorter distances, too!

  27. I love this post! 🙂 I have enjoyed following your training so much and after my running slump this summer, following your blog really encouraged me to pick up running again.

    I especially love the point about “Not every race will be a PR”. This is for sure not a fun lesson to learn, but we all go through it and we can all relate. One thing I’ve learned from marathon training is how awesomely supportive other running bloggers/twitterers can be. Even though I don’t have a solid running group where I live now, I know that I will always find the support I need. 🙂

    Only THREE days until you’re a MARATHONER!! I’m so excited for you!

  28. I learned a huge lesson about food, like you mentioned in your post. I stopped looking at it like calories and began looking at it as something that will make me a healthier and better runner! Thick crust pizza is my go-to pre long run/race meal! I also learned to listen to my body… learned when to skip or shorten a run when I was fatigued. Dropping a mile here and there can do wonders for your sanity (and your legs!) sometimes 🙂

    I have also learned that I can use “I’ve completed 2 marathons” during awkward ice breakers in meetings… which coincidentally I just did this morning in a meeting. Life saver.

  29. I love this post! Great lessons learned, and I think it’s fantastic how reflective you are about your first marathon. Honestly, there is NOTHING like training for your first. Everything is new and unchartered and there is so much excitement, frustration and nervousness and everything in between. Know you’ve heard this a billion times– but ENJOY it and really take in the sights, the crowd, the race, the people, the energy! You’ll never get to do those first 26.2 miles again.

    I think the biggest thing I’ve learned through marathon training is how internally motivated I am as a person. In HS and college, there wasn’t much guess work or motivation needed for training- I showed up at practice, did my run/workout with my teammates…whatever my coach told me to do that day. Practice was something built into my day, as part of the team I HAD to be there.

    But training for my first marathon, by myself, with no coach and team to meet each day…that was something totally different. Just my alarm clock and the roads, however long or short I wanted to run that day. It made me truly appreciate just how driven I am as a person, which I didn’t realize before. I like knowing I can do anything I set my mind towards if I want to, not just because I have a coach/boss/parent/friend/etc. guiding or expecting me to.

  30. Love these lessons! Training for a race taught me that if I put in the effort, I could do what I never thought possible. Sure sometimes it was ugly, and disappointing, and scary,and tiring (and that was just for an itty bitty race- but its all relative, I suppose), but knowing that I accomplished a goal I had never even considered previously made it all worth it.

    Deep breathes! You will be more than fine. You’ve got this. Seriously. Don’t let anyone get you down this week. Only happy thoughts from here on out – sunshine and rainbows and puppies and pasta. 🙂

  31. i loved the marathon training too. I know it seems crazy to like all the running, the early nights, etc. but I’m with you on it. It was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done AND after sitting out on the NYC marathon this year, but reading about your marathon training (and other blogger’s too) I am already really excited to start training for 2012!

    I can’t say enough about what I’ve learned training, and I agree with many of your points. One thing I didn’t learn and think that I should learn is about the coach. Never had a coach, but I think its time that I find one.

    Good Luck this weekend!

  32. I love this post! Its so inspiring to see just how much you were able to take away from your training. Hopefully when I start training for a marathon I can use some of your takeaways as guide.

    The best thing I’ve learned from half marathon training is that its not meant to be easy, but its not something I’ll regret doing.

    Best of luck this weekend!

  33. Hey, I have been reading your blog for about a month or so. I also have crohn’s disease and think that what you are doing is awesome and inspirational! Good luck from Illinois!!

  34. I love what you said about “your training being your training.” I was just thinking about that yesterday. If you spend too much time focusing on how much better you think other people are doing and how inferior you might feel, well then, running isn’t going to be that much fun is it? Running is a personal experience. Anyone who runs a mile and thinks that was a lot deserves just as much praise as someone who runs 20 miles and thinks that’s a lot.

  35. Ali,
    Good luck this weekend. I’m sure you will rock it! I’ve just recently started reading your blog and you have inspired me to set some goals for myself. 10km is happening new years eve and then I will set my half marathon goal from there. Thanks!

  36. A marathon (half or full) may or may not be in my future – only time will tell. But all of this advice and lessons-learned can be used to motivate for any fitness goal or weight loss.

    Thanks for sharing, Ali. Your posts are so motivating!

  37. Excellent lessons! I get forearm sweat too, and it is so strange! This one spot on my right arm will just drip sweat even if I am not sweating anywhere else. It kind of makes me crazy. I do feel like training is consuming my life and I look forward to the time it is over. But I am loving this time anyway. I just miss my old routines. Lastly, I know you will not think 26.2 is too much for you and I really know you will love it. 20 miles did not kill you, you will destroy 26!

  38. I learned way more about training after the race than during. Like alllll the mistakes I made. I think the most important thing that came out of sunday for me was realizing just how unprepared I was, and how many things I need to change in the future. It was a lesson learnd the hard way, but apparently that’s how I learn best.

    I’m drafting my next post as I write this now, ha.

    #s 1 and 3 on your list hit hardest for me. I think a coach – or even just someone who is more experienced than I am – will be key if I ever run a full. I like to fancy myself an expert, but I’m not. And food wise, now that I’m “cured” of colitis and CAN eat whatever I want, I usually fill up on crap calories. NOT what my body needed!

  39. So great getting fro yo with you last night! Glad you embraced the whole “mega sized” thing. Thought you all might think it was weird but should have known it was a “safe space.”

    I’m with you on loving marathon training. I genuinely loved training for my last marathon. I felt like it helped me get all my ducks and a row, and I just loved being able to bust out 12 miles like it was nothing. But of course, like you, that doesn’t mean I didn’t get a little crazy every now and then. Too bad I didn’t have a nice handsome friend like yours to help me out in that department (and don’t worry – he’ll stick it out – I think guys like it when we get a little crazy every now and then – it makes them feel normal and manly)

    Here’s a cheesy lesson I learned from training for my last marathon: attitude is everything. If I approached life the way I run, I’d probably be like ridiculously successful or something haha. Because, when I run, I’m able to tell myself that giving up is not an option, and I never do. I can deal with pretty much any obstacle that gets in my way. But in life, little things, such as getting embarrassingly sweaty on a subway ride on the way to work (I heart sweat too), will really throw me off. So, when I was marathon training, it was a little easier to control my mini freakouts.

    Now that I’m injured, that control is gone. Sigh 🙂 Good thing it’s fall so I don’t have to worry about the whole sweat thang!

    Great post 🙂 Sorry about the book for a comment.

  40. Wise words, Ali. I just can’t believe you have come this far, 26.2, from running a mile a year ago. I have done two half marathons and still struggle with running and breathing well. How is that possible? Any sage advice for me? The anxiety gets me every single time, I just need to shut my brain off. YOU are my running idol and I am so impressed with how far you have come and cannot wait to read about your recap from your marathon on Saturday!!

  41. I love this list! And obviously agree that everything is better with runner friends who can relate! (Especially as far as the whole “I sweat more than any other human” claim goes).

    My favorite thing that marathon training has taught me so far is in surprising myself and blowing the “I never thought I could do this or that” out of the water.

  42. This is such a great post! I really enjoyed your take on the process, and as a reader also training for her first full marathon, I loved the takeaway messages. You are an inspiration!!

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I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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