Marathon Misconceptions

Let’s get the girly stuff out of the way before I deal with some common marathon misconceptions!

I’m in the process of packing for my trip to the US. This usually involves cramming as much of my wardrobe into my suitcase as is physically possible…and then stuffing some more in. This year, I’ve tried to pack sensibly. I’ve worked out exactly what I will wear during my business trip (which is in the sunny south and therefore a summery wardrobe is required!) and then I’ve restricted myself to a sensible amount of winter clothing for the chilly north. The plan is to layer up the summery stuff to save on space. Plus I need wedding stuff.

I do enjoy going through my stuff and planning out what I’m going to wear 🙂

I’m very impressed that I have managed to narrow my shoes selection down to just 6 pairs for the trip. Boots, flat pumps, running shoes, flat sandals, heeled pumps, heeled sandals.

I think I’ve covered all bases!

There has been a distinct lack of running chatter over here recently, which is because…I have not been running much at all. I want to but life seems to be getting in the way and it has temporarily dropped down the list of priorities. I will be spending some quality time with the treadmill and the street again VERY shortly. In the meantime, I want to clear up some marathon myths!

1. Marathon training makes you thin.

No, marathon training makes you hungry.

The more you train the more you need to eat. I found I was hungrier than usual ALL the time, not just post-run. I craved carbs and I got into a very bad habit of eating poorly and then excusing myself because ‘It’s ok, I’m training for a marathon, another [glass/portion/chocolate] won’t hurt‘.

As much as it pains me to do this, here is the evidence.

Slightly chubbier me, half way through marathon training. As you can see, weight tends to go to my face first, so even the slightest increase can have a noticeable impact!

Thanks for the blurry thumb DP

And this is a smaller me, post-marathon and not training at all…just being careful about what I eat.

I’ve put on a little bit of weight since this picture was taken and I’m pretty sure that is because I’m now training regularly again and not counting calories. I’m at a healthy weight so I’m very happy with my current size, but it’s just interesting to see how running has affected things! Moral of the story is….don’t run a marathon if your goal is just to lose weight!

2. Marathon training makes you fitter.

I firmly believe that you can ‘train’ in a way that enables you to increase your endurance (so you can run for longer) without seeing a noticeable increase in your overall fitness.

There have been so many occasions where I have returned from a run and Danny asks me “why aren’t you sweating?” or “why aren’t you out of breath?”. Two very good questions that I usually shrug off with an unhelpful sarcastic response, but in truth he has a good point.

If you are used to running regularly, it is easy and tempting (if you are a non-competitive type like me) to go out and run without purpose. It’s comfortable. It’s enjoyable. This is what many people refer to as ‘junk miles’. I love junk miles and junk food.

If you want to get fitter, you should not do the same old easy session day-in day-out. Each run should have a purpose, for example, a long slow run to work on endurance, a speed workout to increase your lung capacity, a race-pace session where you run at your goal pace…and so on. Running in a way that does not cause you some discomfort is probably not going to do a whole lot for you. It may be enjoyable, but don’t complain if you don’t see much improvement. {I am totally lecturing myself here. This is me allll over!}

3. Marathon training will take over your life and you will drive people insane with constant marathon chatter.

Actually, this one can be true! If all you ever talk about to your friends and family is the marathon…they may stop inviting you out with them. And if every time they do invite you out you say ‘no sorry I have to get up at 6am to train for the marathon‘ or ‘no I’ve quit drinking because I’m running the marathon..did I ever mention that I’m running the marathon?’, they may get bored of hearing all about you and your little race.

My husband’s favourite words is BALANCE. It’s all about balance apparently. I think that is very true for me and marathon running. I want to be committed so sometimes this means putting training above other areas of my life. This does not mean that running is more important to me than my husband, church, family, friends or work, so I try to balance all the competing interests and ensure that the top priorities are not negatively impacted by my decision to run. For me, this means making sure that my husband is happy for me to run. He has been through it once before and knows all about the additional pressure it can place on our lives. Without his support I could not and would not want to do it again!

If you really are boring all your friends with marathon chatter, start a blog and let other running-bloggers hear all about it!

4. The marathon is about raising money for charity.

When I tell non-runners that I am running a half marathon or marathon, or any kind of race, the first question is often “who are you running for?”.

What an interesting question, I think to myself. The answer that I want to give is “I am running for me” or possibly “I am running for my husband…I want to stay in shape so that he still finds me physically attractive in 5 years time” (HA!!) although I suspect these are not the answers that they are looking for. The only acceptable answer appears to be cancer patients/ AIDS victims / dogs that need artificial doggy limbs. Invariably I say “actually, I’m not running for anyone BECAUSE you don’t need to raise money for charity in order to run“…and then I get the overwhelming sense of judgement upon me as this person, who thought they had asked a fairly innocuous question, wonders why on earth this ‘Christian’ is not behaving in a suitably Jesus-like fashion and donating all her time and energy into helping those less fortunate than herself. I’m sure they aren’t really thinking that, but I do wonder sometimes!

Just to be clear…I love charity. Giving generously to others is a privilege and a blessing. We have SO MUCH and yet there are so many people across the world with so little. I encourage everybody to give…my experience has taught me that by sacrificing time or money you tend to reap unexpected rewards. That said….I do not think that you need to feel guilty about not raising money just because you like to run in organised races.

5. If you run for charity, it will be easy to raise the required amount.

Unless you happen to have a lot of wealthy and generous friends (sadly a combination that does not always go together) you may find raising the money tough…!

I committed to raising £2,000 for a fantastic local charity when I ran in London last year. In order to make fundraising less-stressful, it is advisable to think carefully about which charity you support. If you have a lot of money to raise and are concerned about how to do it my advice would be:

– Run for a charity that you can personally relate to or have benefited from within your family. By telling your personal story about how that charity has impacted your life, you will be able to excite others about the cause.

– Don’t run for a charity that is going to invite awkward political or religious conversation…unless you are up for that discussion and prepared for a ‘no, I cannot support that charity’ response.

– Be persistent. Use social media to raise awareness, ask everyone you know, generally irritate everybody until they pay you to shut up. It’s painful sometimes but unless you do this regularly, people will usually be accommodating and generous.

Give generously to others. If you don’t donate to other causes, how can you expect somebody to donate to yours?

– Be creative. Think of events that you can organise to help raise money. For example, I had friends over for Christmas drinks and nibbles. I provided all the food and drink, but asked people to make a small donation to the charity I was running for if they wanted to contribute. Some did and others didn’t, which is totally fine. I wanted to have a party anyway :). One of the ladies at our church was running the same marathon as me and organised an auction of promises to raise money for both of us. Church members donated their time and skills to the auction, and people in the local community bid on the offerings. These included things such as babysitting, cake baking, motorcross lessons…and so on. It was fantastic and raised well over £1,000! Without this fantastic effort from my friend and the church, I would have struggled to get to the £2,000 mark.

Manage your expectations. I worked in a law firm and assumed that I would be able to raise a considerable sum from my colleagues. A handful of people donated extremely generously, for which I am very grateful, but the vast majority did not give at all. I should not have expected them to..but I was a little disappointed!

6. If’s easy to get a place in a marathon.

This depends on which marathon you want to run. If you want to run the London Marathon the process is less than straightforward, so in my next post I’m going to explain it all for you in case you are ever inclined to enter :).

If you have any running-related misconceptions that you’d like to clear up…now is the time to share!

That’s enough from me for today. I’ll be back soon!



4 thoughts on “Marathon Misconceptions

  1. Can I raid your closet?!?! The outfits and shoes, so nice!
    oooh and I definitely agree..the months where I was running a lot – I gained a good 10 pounds!

    Interesting part about how training affects personal life and relationships. I’m wondering how that’ll come into play for me!

  2. Pingback: How To: Get a Place in the London Marathon | Well Heeled Runner

  3. Pingback: Try Something New! | Well Heeled Runner

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