Here’s Every Mistake I Made During My First Marathon

Deciding to run your first marathon can be an intimidating decision. But definitely rewarding.

Being a first-timer with the web at your fingertips has its pros and cons. Google “How to Run a Marathon” and you’ll have 34235+ articles pop up with every piece of advice you’ll ever need. This can be helpful for some, but overwhelming for others.

Before this marathon, the most “consistent” running I had ever done was a 5k. I’ve done 4 OCRs (Spartan, Tough Mudder, etc) and loved every second of it, but none of my HIIT workouts or sprint experience would go on to prepare me for 26.2 miles of just. straight. running. on. pavement.

Do you know the story behind why a Marathon is 26.2 miles? I didn’t until about 2 weeks ago.

The idea for the modern marathon was inspired by the legend of an ancient Greek messenger who raced from the site of Marathon to Athens, a distance of about 40 kilometers, or nearly 25 miles, with the news of an important Greek victory over an invading army of Persians in 490 B.C. After making his announcement, the exhausted messenger collapsed and died. To commemorate his dramatic run, the distance of the 1896 Olympic marathon was set at 40 kilometers.

Whenever my friend got to the part of the messenger dying at the end, I kind of nervously laughed and thought, what did I just get myself into and why didn’t I prepare? But it was too late, the tickets were already bought. I would go on to learn my lesson the hard way, here’s what happened:

  • I was inexperienced.

Article after article kept talking about “developing a base” before attempting to do this. I had thought since I had been working out consistently for over a year (side note: I workout mainly with weights and only run a couple of miles), had a healthy diet, and was young, that I would just be able to go out there and survive. They say that sometimes in life you just can’t wait till you’re ready, you just have to go. This is not one of those instances where you should apply this.

  • I didn’t pace myself.

I ran the first 8 miles way too fast with the biggest grin on my face thinking it was breeze. It also helped that S was alongside of me making air fist pumps every so often / playing air guitar to whatever song was playing on his phone. I was proud that I had passed a good number of people up, but those same people would pass me up around mile 14 when I needed to slow down and walk due to a nagging foot pain that had begun on both feet.

  •  I didn’t understand fueling.

I had read it’s very important to stay hydrated, so I did just that. Every time I saw a water station, I would drink a small cup of H20. I didn’t think I needed the gatorade or gel the nice ladies kept offering to me. I would just observe other marathoners consume energy gels and sports drinks from time to time. Needless to say, my body was screaming for fuel halfway through this marathon. I was running on empty.

  • I had a meltdown around mile 18.

Around mile 18, I could finally see in the distance a small outline of downtown Fort Worth (where the finish line was). I was already in a lot of pain from alternating between running and walking on my injured feet and was in near tears thinking I would never make it. Luckily, I had caught up to S at this point and he gave me an uplifting speech about crossing that finish line. Although it’s normal to have moments where you think “I can’t do this”, it’s a whole lot easier to deal with when you have had the proper training.

  • When crossing the finish line, I didn’t run through it like a champ.

By the time I was a few feet away from the finish line, I was in extreme exhaustion. I had given all my energy to running what I could to just finish. I gave a half hearted hop while crossing and in hindsight, its always better to run through the finish line triumphantly. I mean…YOU JUST FINISHED A MARATHON!

The next few days were not pretty. I ended up with Cuboid Syndrome which put me out of exercising for 2 weeks. I probably made almost every mistake you can do running a marathon. Oh, and did I mention I had literally just come back from a couple of weeks vacationing in Peru? That travel post is coming soon. Regardless, I may have not finished in the time I initially thought I would, but I felt like a winner. It was a tremendous learning experience, and I was reminded that day that if I could do this, I can do anything. Next time though, I’ll try to take the proper precautions when undertaking something like this. The millennial in me will need to learn to pump those brakes a little. 

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