Training for a Marathon is Scary

My last marathon finish! Please excuse Mr. Anger, he was too hard to crop out! (c. Disney Pixar)

I’m about nine weeks into my homemade, patched together marathon training plan, with about ten to go until the big day. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe this isn’t such a brilliant idea. The marathon is a monster, not the kind that hides under your bed and looks like Lyle Lovett, but one like Michael Jackson in Thriller:

Oh look the perfect boyfriend, the cute companion telling you how great you are, how in shape you are. Its only 26 measly little miles… Let’s just go dance in these woods right here… wait what’s that long side burn growing rapidly out of your face and why did a bunch of your lumbering, moaning friends just show up?

Too late.

Marathons are scary.

I was thinking back to the last marathon I ran, it was probably around 2003 or 4. It came on the tail end of a three week vacation to New Zealand and Australia- where I think I did one run around a lake on the south island and spent the rest of the time seeing the country from a camper van and then partying my little arse off in Oz. Thank God there was no Facebook back then.

Anyway, I ran the Richmond marathon, jet lagged and probably still filled with Tim Tams (they are amazing and available at Target now). Managed just over 4 hours. But I was young, and had done a few marathons in the years leading up, and did I mention I was young?

So yea, nine weeks in, and really just nine weeks of solid running under my belt. When I say nine weeks, I’m not talking nine weeks after twelve weeks of base building, I’m talking nine weeks of running. Period. Reason being, since November of last year, when I was really sick (ruptured appendix, something I do not recommend), it took me a few solid months to even begin to think about running again. So – glass half full speak: that means I’m FRESH and rejuvenated (ignore the beeping sound, that’s just my BS meter going off).

Training for the most part has been going well, at least in my mind. I’ve been running 40-50 mile weeks. And will keep upping the ante from there. I don’t even know where I’ll top out; I like to keep myself guessing. I’ve done the prescribed intervals and tempo runs, long runs and easy runs. I’ve done strength and core and drills and stretches. I’ve also cursed, pooped, blistered and sneered.

That was me in New Zealand.

This weekend I’m shooting for 16 miles. Officially my longest run in over a decade. That is scary, folks. Like routine dentist checkup turned pulling out your wisdom teeth today kinda freight. I should know, that happened.

And through all of this I am dealing with that thing. (shhhhhh, separation is a four letter word!). And I think I’m doing ok. Though I feel like I shouldn’t be, like I should be in the corner crying or something. Eating tubs of ice cream and contemplating a pixie haircut. But that’s not me.

“If you are going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill.

Any friend who texts me at noon to go see the Rolling Stones at 8 is getting more spins on my roulette wheel!

I am using my friends like a rotating roulette wheel, depending on what I need: celebrity gossip and uncontrollable laughter; discussion on the world according to NPR; sobering advice and empathy; a recipient to drip sarcasm on like a summer popsicle; an ego boost; help to get my actual life in order; or to let me be the listener and the supporter for once.

I made the decision that even if I couldn’t find happiness as often as I would like, that I would find gratitude. Easier said than done when  you have a deadline looming, bills to pay, barking dogs and zero chocolate in your house. To find gratitude, you really need to slow down and pay attention. And be in the moment. I have a little notebook I write in every other day or so, that lists out, for one thing, things I am grateful for right then, or that week, or over the course of my well worn life. Being able to train for a marathon might be in there.

Are you training for a marathon too? Do you think it’s scary?





I’m a transplanted Pennsylvanian who is now running south of the Mason Dixon. I am peeling away my triathlete costume to reveal the single sport athlete who has been jonesing to fly again, by training for my first marathon in about a decade. I always bring dessert to parties, I schedule my fall life around football, I've climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and run miles on 5 continents. I’m hoping my Garmin will help me to navigate life's newest twists and turns and that you will come along on this adventure!

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  1. I am just starting training for a November marathon. I’m not just scared, I am terrified! I am aiming for what some would consider a slow time, but it is scary nonetheless. I have done two other marathons. My first I just tried to enjoy the ride and finished in 4:38. In my second I was completely overwhelmed by heat, humidity, nausea, light headedness and mentally giving up. It took me 5 hours to complete and I felt like the marathon completely kicked my butt. I have lots of mental work to do to forget that feeling and approach this race with confidence.

  2. My training for my first-ever marathon got cancelled due to injury a few weeks ago. It’s mostly super disappointing, but I’m not going to lie: part of me was relieved when it became clear that there was no way I could heal and still be trained for the marathon in time. Because yes, it’s absolutely terrifying! When my long runs got over half distance, I started spending entire Sundays coming up with reasons to wait another hour. (Then I’d end up running 15 miles when it was 80°, which definitely didn’t make things more miserable than they need to be.)

  3. I’m training for my first ever marathon right now and every Friday night I panic about my long run on Saturday. I think I won’t make the distance, or my times for the past few weeks have been fluke so. It’s terrifying, but I’m pleasantly surprising myself most weeks. Hopefully confidence and mental preparation will come.