Nine days ago I ran the BMW Dallas Marathon for the second year in a row. After intensive training for five months, I broke my record with a new PR—3 hours and 38 minutes. However, I didn’t make my ultimate goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I was just three minutes shy!
While I gathered plenty of information during my training to share with you over the next few weeks, I have a few fresh thoughts to share. Namely, the crazy &*@# no one tells you about running a marathon.
#1. YOU MIGHT JUST CELEBRATE OVER A TRASHCAN.
Or, in the case of Chandler Self, the BMW Dallas Marathon winner this year, in a wheelchair unable to remember who you are or where you are.
I know, you’re probably imagining yourself leaping over the finish line and rushing into the arms of someone who loves you. Let me clear that up for you. You might just limp across the finish line, stumble around disoriented and unable to remember that one guy’s name. You know, the one that likes you, your boyfriend, aren’t you all supposed to meet? And then barf into a trashcan. Your heroic feelings will occur later, when your stomach settles and your amnesia dissipates.
#2. ICKY EXISTENTIAL FEELINGS MIGHT ARISE.
Running a marathon uses up every bit of the glucose in your muscles, but did you know it also uses up nearly all of your willpower? Your emotions after completing a marathon will run free like naughty children in the days following the finish line. Your immune system is compromised following a marathon for three days, says science, and your emotional regulation will be compromised for three days, too, says me.
For instance, the BMW Dallas Marathon happened to fall five days before my employment contract with Tandem Theory (a kickass advertising agency full of fellow runners!) ended. To give you an idea of why I would miss these people—they gave me, a contract worker, this care package before the marathon as encouragement.
So, I finished the marathon feeling heroic only to realize the next morning I had no energy to apply for jobs the next day. All of the sudden, with nothing to train for, looking up an enormous mountain called Searching For a Good Job, I was paralyzed by physical and mental exhaustion.
Despite the fact I’m a type-A do-it-do-it-just-finish-it type person, I made myself wait a few days to begin really delving into the hard work of researching, cover letter writing, tailoring my portfolio, and bribing. I mean, networking. Give yourself a couple of days to be useless before driving yourself towards a new goal—even if it’s non-athletic.
#3. SURPRISE! YOUR LIFE IS BACK.
About a week after Netflix-and-chilling yourself back to health you’ll find yourself remembering your pre-marathon life. Oh yeah, you’ll say, didn’t I have a running blog? And friends. A weekly yoga class. A clean home. That home improvement project.
I suggest using the next few weeks to call your mom, donate your plethora of ugly free running t-shirts, and finally fix that running toilet.
#4. UM, SO, WHEN WILL MY BODY GO BACK TO NORMAL?
For at least a week or two after running a marathon, you’re still going to get those weird runner’s cravings and eat like a cow. At least until your metabolism wakes up and realizes you’ve been on the couch a lot lately. Pay attention to those cravings—your body is still healing for roughly a month post-marathon and you need to repair the tissue you’ve broken down in your muscles and organs. You know, important stuff.
You might be sore for over a week. But making friends with your foam roller, walking (yes, I said walking) will help you get up to speed faster. Don’t rush the healing. It’ll happen, mostly with time but also with a little work. The best way to screw up your next bout of marathon training is by not resting enough now.
#6. TELLING PEOPLE YOU MISSED YOUR GOAL IS ODDLY THERAPEUTIC.
I missed my time goal by three minutes. Three minutes! I was 180 seconds from qualifying for the Boston Marathon. (I did, however, achieve a new PR with a finish time of 3:38. Yay.) Yet, no one I shared this information with replied, “Well that’s just horrible! You should give up on running forever.” I don’t know why I assume people would ever say such a thing but it ends now. Everyone I know who has made it to Boston said to me, “Well, you can totally do it next year.” I can.
People are rooting for you. Even if they aren’t, they’ll pretend they are. They’re irrelevant anyway. You do you. Be proud that. However you performed on race day, you dedicated months of your life to challenging your body and mind to the max. That ain’t nothin’ to shake a foam roller at.