26 Things I Learned During Marathon Training

26 things I learned

About Running…

1.  I (still) don’t LOVE running, but I DO love working towards a goal and running races!

2.  I don’t know the difference between a runner and a jogger, but I’m a runner.  (Is it me, or does “jogger” sound offensive somehow??)

3.  I learned there is A LOT to learn about running!  I always thought it was just one foot in front of the other…who knew!

4.  Listen to your body…it will let you know when you need a break.  (But listen carefully because laziness and an actual need for rest sound VERY similar!)

5.  I love “the runner’s wave”.  Running along and getting that little wave from a fellow runner…it’s like we’re in a secret club! (I remember the first time someone waved at me I thought, “oh my gosh, they think I’m a runner!”)

Runners Wave

Running Gear…

6.  It’s a myth that all you need to run is sneakers.  Ok, well I guess technically it is true (unless you’re part of that barefoot craze), but if you’re like me and like gadgets and gizmos and stuff then you also need an iPhone holder, headphones, a Garmin, compression socks, compression pants, a hydration/ fuel belt, long run fuel, books on running, a subscription to Runner’s World…you get my point.

7.  Toe nail clippers – cut your toenails before long runs.  And cut them SHORT.  (Unless you’re really not all that attached to having toenails in which case you can leave them long and just let them all fall off.)

8.  Foam rollers are a runners secret weapon.

9.  Compression pants are like a hug for your legs.

10.  Running shoes are like Cinderella’s glass slipper…try on tons of them and when you find the perfect fit you’ll know.

slipper & shoe

About Races…

11.  When cleaning out your closet save some stuff for race “throw away” clothes.

12.  Pinch the sides of your cup together at water stops to make it easier to drink on the run.

13.  After a race you’ll be really HOT and sweaty…until your cold…freezing cold.  When you stop running and your body temp drops and all the sweat cools and your clothes are wet you get cold FAST.  Bring a change of clothes (or grab a cool looking mylar blanket!).

14.  Race day adrenaline is REAL.

15.  Read race signs…alot of them are really funny!  (and someone worked hard on them!)

Marathon Signs


16.  You can’t control the weather.  Ok, so I already knew that before I trained for a marathon, but sometimes you show up to  January marathon and it’s 80 degrees and 100% humidity…or there’s a snowstorm and your flight down to the race gets canceled…or lightning hits your train tracks and you miss your flight.  Yes, these have all happened to me.  Mother nature has a wicked sense of humor.

17.  Piriformis.  I hadn’t even heard of this muscle before I started running, but it’s a real pain in the ass.  Literally.

18.  Trust your training.

19.  The look on people’s faces when you tell them you ran a marathon (or 42.4 miles in a weekend with some pushups just for good measure at mile 21) is freakin awesome.

20.  Ice baths are torture.  Until they’re amazing.  (TIP: Yelling or cursing loudly while getting in helps.)

Ice Bath

About Me…

21.  I can stick to a (training) plan if I really want to (who knew!).

22.  I can run 42.4 miles in a weekend and not have 1 blister.  I wear heals for 4.24 hours and my feet are covered with them.

23.  I hate running hills in training, but love them in races.  They make me feel strong!

24.  I get naturally stronger as a race goes on.

25.  I LOVE running / yoga / workout clothes!  (OK, sort of already knew this, but I’m in them a lot more now and love it!)

Old New Attire

26.  I am stronger than I think I am.

What things have you learned while training???


41 thoughts on “26 Things I Learned During Marathon Training

  1. Wow, this is a fabulous post. I love your honesty about not loving running – that sounds about right for me as well. Setting a goal and training for it is definitely what keeps me going. One tip I learned about an ice bath…get in and then add ice/cold water…it makes it a lot more tolerable initially.

    • Thanks Christine, I’m glad you liked it! It’s so hard to feel like I consider myself a runner now (because I love the races and don’t plan on stopping any time soon!) but at the same time I don’t really love just going out for a run…I have a hard time motivating myself unless I have a race coming up!

      Thanks for the ice bath tip! I’ll definitely try that next time : )

  2. What a great list! I have been mulling over the same question, and wondering if I will continue running after I complete my first half marathon (I started running for charity rather than for running’s sake). But I identify with so many of the points you put down that perhaps I am just in denial about being a runner! I also don’t love it, but I love the feeling afterwards. You have given me more to think about. Thank you.

    • Hi Emma, I’m glad this post gave you some stuff to think about. I also ran my first race for a charity, but as soon as I crossed the finish line I knew it wasn’t going to be a “one and done” like I had assumed. I just had such a great experience and met so many great people that I immediately registered for my next race (I’ve now done 2 full marathons and 5 halves!).

  3. Brilliant post! I’ve been told that the difference between a runner and a jogger, is that a jogger waits to cross the road by jumping up and stretching, while a runner waits by standing there, looking annoyed.

    • Ha! I like that runner/ jogger definition! I’ve heard so many I just still don’t get it – like a jogger is when you run over 10 minutes / mile pace?!? So for a full marathon apparently I’m a jogger, but for any lesser distance apparently I’m a runner? I give up!

  4. I’m sorry, I know I’m uber annoying with my comments, but I LOVE this post. I don’t love running either, but I love how I feel when I’m done with my run. And I’d like to think the difference between runner and jogger is effort, not speed. I mean, I’m slow, but I give everything I have when I run/jog, although I still don’t call myself a runner. Multiple half marathons should count for something, right? Btw, THANK YOU SO MUCH for that pinching the cup suggestion. I always have to walk the water stations because if I run them, the water ends up everywhere but in my mouth. Oh, and best race sign, at least to me, at this past W&D I saw “Keep Going, Keep Going (That’s what she said!)”

    • Haha, your comments aren’t annoying at all…trust me, I love when I see that I’ve gotten a comment on a post, hopefully it means someone liked it (or at least read it!).

      I like the idea that runner vs. jogger is about effort and not speed! I also had a very hard time calling myself a runner, but like you said after several half marathons and now two marathons how could I NOT be, right?!?

  5. I enjoy reading your posts also, it is getting me more and more motivated to get out and at least start walking. I don’t know why I am so LAZY! Guess its because my walking partner isn’t motivated either! I was reading all the “stuff” you need to have for a run, race…understood most of it except for the garmin…. .? And is there a big difference between sneakers/ running/ walking that I need to look for? Thanks…Patti

    • Thanks Patti. The Garmin is a running watch that tracks your mileage, pace, etc.

      As far as running vs. walking sneakers to be honest I don’t know the specific differences really since I’ve never looked in to walking shoes, you’re probably best off going to a good shoe store and talking to one of the people there who can help you better!

  6. I totally agree with your #1! I might even say I hate running, but I love races and the goal of preparing for a race! I still have a hard time calling myself a runner (usually I say “I run” rather than “I am a runner”), partly because I am slow and take walk breaks. I am scared to try ice baths but I know I need to. I like your tip about yelling! 🙂

  7. There is a blog dedicated to funny race signs, They are so funny! Personally I’d wear running shoes over the glass shoe anyday 🙂 plus I have runners feet, so theyd look really ugly in the glass!

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  9. Hey Dani…
    I am just catching up on your blogs… this is one of the best yet. You may get me out there yet!!!

  10. I love this post! It’s so honest and true!! I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has problems stating “I’m a runner.” I promised myself that after my first half marathon I’d call myself a runner but I still havent said it! I totally agree about having to have more then just sneakers! There’s a lot more to running then i originally thought that’s for sure! Thanks for some tips, and a great read! 🙂

    • Hi Amanda, thanks so much for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      I still struggle with the “I’m a runner” thing too, I find that I say “I run”, but not that “I’m a runner”, it’s so silly!

  11. While I was training for the ’13 WDW 1/2 last January my husband (an Ironman– and may time marathoner, 1/2 marathoner who still does not like running after 25 years of it!) bought me a Road ID bracelet and gave it to me and said, “Because you’re now a runner.” Ever since then, I call myself a runner. I’m old, I’m slow but there is something that thrills about my heart about running. I’m sure I’m probably a jogger but that sounds like one of the baby jogger contraptions so….I’ll stick with runner. 🙂

    Loved this piece. I’m pinning it. I love Disney too. Keep running!

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  14. Oh my gosh…wish I would have known the important tip about pinching the water cup at water stations during a race before…do you know how completely inept I have looked as I try to drink water out of those paper cups while running?! You just saved my life! (Well, maybe not my life, but at least my vanity.) Happy running!

  15. The difference between a training plan on paper with dates and one in your head is tremendous! I will let you guess which one is more effective!

  16. I have run three half marathons and one full marathon. You blew my mind when you talked about the piriformis muscle! MIND BLOWN! Everything here is spot on and I love all of your runDisney photos! The sign picture is fantastic! It has my favorite quotes all in one image. My favorite sign is “runners have balls other sports just play with them” and I’m so glad you could capture that!

  17. so happy to have read this post the night before the eve of my first half! I have been seeking some motivation as well as validation of all “runners” truly shouldn’t have to “enjoy” it. I love achieving my goal, dislike getting started. Thanks for the tips, the motivation and validation!

    • Hi Ashley, I hope that your race went well and I’m so glad to hear that my post resonated with you and made you feel better going into the race!

      I’d love to hear how it went!

  18. Don’t eat late the night before a long run and do long training runs the first day of your weekend. You’ll be happy that you gave yourself an extra day to recover.

    • It’s so funny you say that because I am currently teaching a yoga class Sunday mornings and I just said to my husband the other day that I hate that that leaves me to only be able to do my long runs on Saturdays, b/c I like a day between to recover from my week before a long run! Funny how different things work for different people!

      • That is the benefit of doing the training. Figuring out what works for our bodies and minds – I get into a meditative state and find that music interferes with my flow. Training for my first full mary (have done 2 halfs), and I have learned so much about fueling before, during and after a run. We are setting ourselves up for success when we do the distance runs.

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