As Kathrine Switzer famously said, “If you are ever losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” Training for and running a marathon is a soul-changing experience, one where you will find out many truths about yourself, both good and bad.
Simultaneously transcendental and mind-numbing, the marathon experience is unique from anything else you can willingly put your body through. Listed here are some of the stranger things that happen as a result of training and racing 26.2 miles.
1. You develop a super human ability to detect the presence of port-a-pots.
When you train for a marathon, you spend a lot of time running. Unless you can set your watch by the inner workings of your digestive system, you have probably had nature call during a long run. You will be amazed by your newfound ability to detect port-a-potties within a three block radius of your location!
2. You reach a new state of being that you never knew existed.
Before, during, and after the marathon you will experience simultaneous elation and fatigue. You will be amazed by your body’s ability to continue moving forward while also seemingly able to lie down and take a 12 hour nap on the concrete.
3. Your friends and family will develop admiration and disgust for your endeavors.
When you tell people you are running a marathon, you will witness a range of emotions that span respect, disgust, and amazement – all within 30 seconds. No other proclamation can seemingly garner such a variety of feelings in such little time. The same can be said of your significant other if you are in disagreement when it comes sex the night before a marathon.
4. Your Instagram feed is basically a visual list of the races you've done this year.
You spend more time laying out your bib, race kit, and shoes for a mini photoshoot the night before a race than you do stretching. Apparently it's supposed to look like you without your body in it, but I usually just make sure it fits in a nice, Instagrammable square:
And taking runfies (run + selfie) on race day, posting pics of you and your running friends at the finish line, any cool signage that might be around, and of course #postrunbrunch.
And by the time the official race pictures come out, you are itching to filter and post them. Sometimes your pictures turn out great, sometimes, you look like you've been hit by a truck. But regardless, you either pick the best one and post it, or post the worst and laugh about it on social media.
5. You will discover new parts of your body you did not know existed.
During long runs and especially during the marathon itself, muscles you did not know you had will become tense, parts of your body will rub together that you did not know was possible, and you will become hyper-vigilant of your limbs, such as the weight of your forearms. That being said, remember to NEVER completely stop running the week of your marathon; shakeout runs are major key.
6. You develop an instant connection with anyone who has ever run a marathon.
This statement is especially true if you encounter a stranger who has run the same marathon(s) as you. The internal war that you encounter during a long race is something that only other participants can appreciate. You have an immediate understanding of another person’s grit when you find out you both have this shared experience. For example, I once went on a donut run with my roommate; at some point we got separated and started talking to someone who ran the Chicago Marathon in 2012, the same year I ran it. At the end, my roommate came over to talk to us and the convo went something like this:
Roomie: "Oh hey! How do you two know each other?" Me: "Hi! We don't! But Cheryl ran Chicago in 2012, just like me!" Stranger Cheryl: "Yes! So we're BFFs now." Roomie: "Oh wow, watching you two talk to each other I thought you were actually best friends."
That pretty much sums it up.
7. You cry for no reason.
At mile 16 you may see a particularly funny marathon cheering sign and start crying. At mile 18 you might drop your gel and start crying. At mile 22 you will realize you have 4 miles to go and you will possibly start crying. At the finish, you will start crying. If you don't, uh, can you tell us how not to?? There is no rhyme or reason for the running marathon crying phenomenon, but don’t be surprised if tears randomly flow.
8. You spend weeks planning your post marathon meal, only to have no appetite.
The cruelest joke the universe will play is ensuring you have no appetite post-marathon. Fortunately for you, you will be ravenously hungry for weeks after the race and will have plenty of time to indulge in your favorite treats! One of my friends was so tired after his first marathon that he actually fell asleep at the table at our post-race lunch. Practically drown in his noodle soup poor pup. But, even if you're not hungry, do be sure to eat and hydrate post race for good recovery!
9. After the race you swear to NEVER do another one. And then a few days later you sign up for another race.
According to my credit card statement, between 48 hours to 1 week after any given race is my highest frequency of signing up for yet another race. But this year, I proved myself wrong. What did I do after Brooklyn Half 2016? I decided to do NYRR's 9+1 program and promptly signed up for two 4-milers, two 5-milers, the Bronx 10 Mile, Staten Island Half Marathon, and a Ragnar trail 50K, just so that I could get guaranteed entry to the 2017 New York City Marathon. I should point out at this point that I already had guaranteed entry for the 2016 New York City Marathon (this weekend!!!), but I knew if I didn't have a bib for next year I would get some serious #FOMO. And the NYC Marathon counts as a race in the 9+1 program. Basically, this year I will have run over 118 miles of races just so that I can run another marathon next year. That's not counting the running portions of the 3 Olympic triathlons and 1 sprint tri that I did (that 1 spring tri? Signed up the day after my first Olympic distance race of the season). Plus there's a bet going that if I don't BQ on Sunday that I'll sign up for the 2017 New Jersey Marathon...
Remember to enter our Mega Marathon Giveaway Good luck to all of our friends running New York City Marathon this weekend!! Be sure to check out our NYC Marathon 2016 Race Week Events and Parties list.