Months of training leading up to four hours of hell, followed ny weeks of pain and depression. But it's all in fun.
No, really. During training you'll be so sore and blistered that the mere thought of putting on your running shoes will induce panic attacks and nausea.
The purpose of this article isn't to dissuade anyone from running a marathon, but merely to let you know what you're getting yourself into. I've run three; it's pretty addictive. Like heroin!
Leading up to your race you will run. And the you'll run. And you're going to run some more. You'll run further on one day than most people run in months. Near the end of the training cycle the your long run day (yes, day) is a 20 mile run. The purpose of this isn't just to strengthen your cardiovascular system, but also to get your body used to the pounding it's going to take during the race. And it's a lot of pounding!
Injuries happen. Some of the most common are stress fractures, sprains, over use injuries, and runner's nipple. These are pretty easily preventable. Just don't rush the training, take it easy, and enjoy yourself (yes it's possible).
Race day, especially your first one. sucks. There is no better way to put it. You've been eating a lot of of pasta and drinking a lot of beer and water to 'carb up' and hydrate, so your stomach may feel...let's just say uncomfortable. You're likely to be extrememly tired, due to not sleeping from pre-race jitters and having to wake up around 5:00 in the morning to get to the starting line. You're lost, and race directors are shouting through megaphones to to get everyone where they're supposed to be. You're packed in with a couple thousand total strangers, who all look way better prepared than you do. And then the starter pistol fires.
The scariest man?
The sound of gun fire can trigger something primal in a person, especially a person that's already pumped with adrenaline and ready to run. You jump a little, and then start running. Just try to control yourself; you have over 26 miles to go.
There are food and water stations along the way, and hopefully clean portajohns. I promise you'll use all of these. Four hours is a long time to run; you have to eat and drink to keep yourself going, and your bowels and bladder are going to need emptied. If this is your first time you're not going to be to concerned with setting a PR (Personal Record), so listen to your body and do what it tells you. After a few races you'll learn when and how much you can ignore your body's signals, but there are still limits.
Ask him about pushing limits
Now after reading on and on about how much this sucks, you're almost certainly wondering why anyone would do this to themself. I'm going to tell you: Finishing a marathon is a truly magical experience. You've pushed your body past it's limits, your endorphins are firing, and there are no words to describe how fantastic it feels to cross that line. You'll get a finisher's medal, a shirt, you get to keep your number bib, and there's usually all the beer and food you can handle. Simply put, the finish line is heaven.
Like this, but with booze and food
A lot of people choose to run marathons for weight loss. Some choose to do it to belong to an elite group of fitness enthusiasts. Others do it just to do it. No matter what your reason is, running a marathon is a worthy goal that I'd recommend to almost any one.