I began running in 2007. This was before the iphone, instagram, garmin connect etc. This was just the beginning of the facebook era. I was just a teenage girl who simply wanted to get in shape. I threw on some sneakers and ran down the block and back. I didn’t bring a phone. I didn’t bring watch. I just went outside and ran. I think I checked the microwave clock before and after my run just to see how long I had been out.
I never really told anyone I was running. I continued running because I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that happened after my runs. I didn’t know anyone who ran- I didn’t know what a marathon was.All I knew was that slowly, running was becoming ‘easier’ or maybe I was becoming stronger?
It was not a big part of my life. It was solely a form of exercise for me.
For the next 4 years, I continued to run. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t post on social media. I didn’t even have a way to track my runs. I just ran. I would never have considered myself a “runner”. I had no idea the distance or time I was running. I just ran.
In 2011, as a 20 year old college student, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and saw an update read something like:
Michael McLachlan has just ran 2.95 miles in 28 min using the Nike Plus Running App!
My attention was immediately grabbed. What? He runs? 3 miles in 28 min? Is that good? What does that mean? I wonder how far my runs are? I wonder if I can run faster?
My head started spinning. I NEEDED to get this Nike Plus app. I downloaded it on my iphone and went on a run. I discovered that I indeed could run 3 miles in well under 28 min.
This app lead me to more knowledge and opportunity than I ever dreamed. I wanted to be a runner. I wanted to fit into the running community. I started to identify myself as a “runner”.
I continued running and tracking my runs. I was just doing what I enjoyed doing. I was getting pretty fast. I had ran several 22-20 min 5ks. I really enjoyed running 3-5 miles. Sometimes I would get these crazy ideas in my head to do “long runs” of 10-13 miles. That was all I needed. I did not desire to go much further than 13 miles. It was very painful. It was hard!
As social media became more popular, the pressures of running the elusive “marathon” arose. I cannot tell you how many times I was told ” you are not a runner unless you have ran a marathon” when meeting people for the first time.
I ran 40+ miles per week with a 20:59 5k PR, but I didn’t think I was really a “runner” because I had not ran 26.2 miles at one time.
The pressure became too much, so I caved. I didn’t really WANT to run the at the time marathon. I had something to prove to the world. I had to prove that I could run one. I had to prove I was a “runner”. I trained for it. I ran it. I got injured. I was upset with my time.
Reflecting back, I was not ready to run a full marathon. Sure, I had been running for 5+ year. Yes, I was able to complete the marathon. However, I was not ready mentally for the beast of 26.2 miles.
Now that it has been 3 years since my first full marathon, I have 13 more 26.2+ runs under my belt. I feel that I have learned a lot about myself and running.
How to know you are ready to step up to the marathon distance:
1- You find it fascinating/enjoyable to run for 2+ hours at once (sometimes doing it on accident)
2-You are okay with not setting a PR at every race all the time
3- You know how to recognize and cope with early signs of injuries and listen to your body
4- You have been running for over 18 months consistently
5- Running 7 miles does not sound like a difficult task
6- You run at least 25 miles a week
One thought on “Even 5 years of running didn’t prepare me for my first marathon”
I love that the Nike Plus app got you started with tracking your time and distance! Also, you were a runner the moment you decided to pursue it as a form of exercise/enjoyment. Being a runner has nothing to do with running a marathon, but you probably know that now:) Either way, running marathons is an awesome goal and accomplishment, so kudos to you all around.