Full Marathon - 3 Rookie mistakes
My first experience with a full marathon was challenging… to say the least!!
I have a tendency to want to do everything, all at the same time. The year I started running (or running anything past 30min), was also the year I did my first few half marathons and full marathon. Certainly, allowing yourself more time to prepare, will give you a better experience and spare your body from some pain!
Here are some of the mistakes I’ve made. If you’re training for your first marathon, please, don’t be like me haha!
When I first started running I bought some new spanking running shoes. They were, and are, very comfortable for general use. I absolutely love them! What I didn’t realise was that you should buy trainers that are maybe a size bigger than your actual size. If you’re doing a long distance run, your feet will swell and you need that extra space. Me being me, I decided that it was unnecessary and it seemed silly to have a pair of trainers that is a size too big, which you’ll probably not use on a regular day. (As a traveler, everything counts and everything has to fit in your luggage. A pair of trainers and a pair of flip-flops should be enough!)
Well, with this being said, I had to say goodbye to my toe nails a couple of times. Because my feet swell inside of the shoe, blood accumulated under my big toe nails. “You have to drain it”. Yeah… who do you trust in Thailand to do that? Let’s just say, each time this happened, I had to walk around with horrible black nails for 3 to 4 months and wait for a new nail to grow. Not the best looking feet. (Red nail polish is advised as a cover-up haha).
Then, once your nail decides to come off (on a random Jujitsu practice), you’re left with half a nail and a weird looking half-skin, half-nail thing. Anyway! Not amazing. Get good trainers!!
2. Follow another runner
The day before my full marathon, my swimming teacher (Ron, who also does a lot of triathlons and marathons), told me to follow one of the runners. “Find somebody with a similar pace to you. Not faster, not slower. Same pace. And follow them”. He also said that there would be loads of people doing the full marathon and that the great atmosphere would naturally pump my muscles to go strong.
First of all, there must have been around 20 of us, 30 at most, doing the full marathon. And this is another thing I’ve realised about Thailand: there are HUNDREDS of people doing the 3km, 5km runs and mini marathons (10km). Hell! You can find one every single weekend of the year, pretty much. Many Thais do the small runs and quite a few even join the half marathons. Majority of people doesn’t take it seriously but I like the fact that you can find a lot of families doing these events together, even if they just walk it. So this was my first problem: Not enough people running the full marathon, there must have been about 50 of us, meaning, NO ATMOSPHERE, NO PUMP! (I mean… check the picture of the start of the race below…)
The second problem: out of the very few people running, I decided to follow Ron’s last minute advice, to follow another runner. The options where limited but I figured I would follow the girl in front of me. Slowly she started to get further away from me and all that did was bring me down. I thought “I’m not gonna make it!”, or “Wow, I am a fucking snail!!!”. Anyway, I ended up passing her a few times towards the end of the run and she seemed in a lot more pain than me. She kept stopping at every station and asking for muscle spray. We ended up crossing the finish like pretty close to each other.
Was I sort of the same pace as her? Maybe? But following that advise made up for some though mental struggles at the beginning of the race, which is when you want to be feeling strong.
3 months had passed and I was still trying to fix what I had damaged. This was, without a doubt, the biggest mistake I’ve made and I am now paying for it! Working 60h a week and having to fit in 15km or 20km before work meant that most times I was running and rushing to work. Stretching? I’ll do little bit at work while I wait for the kids to come. Well, my hips and groin area started getting really tight and a simple roundhouse body kick was almost impossible. The first 3 months of this year have been all about stretching and small 5 and 10km runs to build up the muscle strength.
I know what you are thinking! “YOGA!” Well, I find it really boring and I don’t buy into the whole hippie thing. I sometimes try to do it but I prefer my normal stretches. But! Never say never, I might change my mind.
This was definitely a challenging course as well. With a lot of hills and lonely times. It even had a off road section which we had to cover twice, and by the second time my blisters were SCREAMING!
A part from that, it was 42km under the Thai sun with only 5 water stations over the whole course. OVER THE WHOLE COURSE! Can you imagine that? Even Ron said that was dangerous… Well, I am glad I chose a hard one to start with, I guess.
Well this is all. These are my 3 rookie mistakes. Which have left me almost unwilling to ever do another marathon. Make sure you avoid this, not only to ensure you have a better experience but also to allow you to truly fall in love with the sport and with the ambition to do better next time.
Let me know your rookie mistakes, in running or any other sport.
Have a fab day peeps!