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Signing up for a marathon – what have I gotten myself into?

When I signed up for a marathon, I was excited and nervous at the same time. This is the story of my struggles and triumphs through the training process. Stay tuned!

It started as a regular workday in April – I woke up, got ready, ate breakfast and made my way to work. On my way, a good friend called and told me about a marathon we MUST sign up for and run during Columbus Day weekend. I told her I had to think about it – I mean, you don’t just sign up for run 26.2 miles without a second thought!

I consider myself a runner. When it comes to getting my heart rate up, getting that runner’s high is how I prefer to do it. However, the only race I have ever done was a 10K. I was always pretty proud of that feat, and I would be adding 20-plus miles to that race – scary. Then again, I thought, this is a “bucket list” item for me – I absolutely want to run a marathon in my life, so why not now?

Sign-up panic

I decided to calm my panic by taking to the internet and learning more about what this process would entail. I looked up the marathon she wanted us to sign up for and browsed some training schedules. My friend suggested we do a training program during which you run four days a week, switching between three shorter runs and one long one. Then, you add a day for cross training, preferably swimming or biking. The first month looked doable – 3 miles, 5 miles, 3 again and then 8. Each Saturday that month it went up 1 or 2 miles. ‘That doesn’t seem so bad,’ I thought. Fifteen minutes later with a credit card in hand, I signed up to run a marathon.

Once I hit submit, a bubble of panic arose. Did I really just sign up – and pay – to run 26.2 miles? Did I really just set myself up for months of strenuous training that ends up with me running for (hopefully) four and a half hours?

But then, once I thought about crossing the finish line, I realized – I couldn’t wait.

Training (and pain) begins

My friend and I decided to follow an 18-week program. For the two months following my signup, I committed to running three or four days a week to get ready. I made it up to 7.5 miles all by myself – almost as far as the first “long,” 8-mile run of my marathon training! Wearing the brand-new sneakers I bought in May and training with my friend when we could coordinate, the first, second and third week went as close to great as possible. I hit all of my short-distance running goals and the two of us finished 6-, 8- and 9-mile runs together.

However, the next week was 11 miles, and I was a little apprehensive.

11 miles – not easy!

I am still trying to get my head wrapped around the fact that people choose to run marathons, and even more shocking – that I chose to do this. At this point in my journey, I could understand the desire to run 26.2 miles once in my life, but some people out there run multiple marathons! This information (and my successes so far) serving as motivation, I was ready for the 11-miler – or so I thought.

The day I was supposed to run 11-miles I was surprisingly calm and felt ready for it. Apparently, I did not know exactly what I was in for.

The first 7 miles on the route we chose were flat for the most part (unlike the 9-miler when my friend made me go uphill for nearly a mile). I got through that, but not without chafing in areas I didn’t know I had, and my legs feeling like lead. The remaining four miles were chock-full of hills. Nevertheless, we make it out alive – panting, sweating, and near collapse.

There’s no point in hiding it – after running 11 miles, I was feeling pretty anxious about the big day. When I told my friend I didn’t know if I was going to make it, she reminded me that no one said it was going to be easy. This is why I strongly recommend training with a friend – there’s something about simple comments like this that make you go the extra mile, literally.

I am planning to run 12 miles later this week and to help me through this next hurdle, I treated myself to some new running clothes! So, at least when I feel like curling up in a ball and dying halfway through, I’ll love my outfit! Right, like I am going to care about what I am wearing…

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing lrstewar@gmail.com.