Truths About Marathon Training

Marathon training is tough
This is obvious, but it’s the biggest truth about marathon training. Not only is it physically hard, it’s mentally hard. Trying to juggle work, home, life in general while putting in 5-6 days of running a week is tough. Sometimes it’s not the actual run that’s tough, but having the energy to get through the rest of the day/week/month or committing yourself to continue to train even when you don’t feel like it.


I don’t always feel like running
This is actually true for training for any distance, but the need to run even when I don’t feel like it is greater when there’s a marathon at stake. When people hear how early I get up to run in the morning the general reaction is, “I wish I was that dedicated,” “I could never do that.” There are many mornings when I don’t feel like getting up to run. I know for my afternoon-running friends there are many afternoons/evenings they don’t feel like running. There seems to be a misconception about runners that because we love to run, we’re always ready to go. That’s just not true and once those cool fall morning’s roll in it’s even more difficult to get my butt out of my cozy bed and hit the road. I think the difference for marathoners is that we have higher consequences if we skip too many workouts.

Sacrifices have to be made
Mostly in the form of a social life. Luckily my husband is very supportive of my running, but it is frustrating at times the looks/comments that come from non-running friends when I don’t want to go out on a weeknight or weekend. I would totally prefer to go to happy hour and hang out late with friends or coworkers, but the marathon is unforgiving and I don’t believe a runner can sign up for a marathon and be successful by only being half-committed to training. The Dixie Chicks are coming to town and I would love to go see them, but it’s a Friday night and I have to run 20 miles the next morning so I’ll be scrolling Instagram for photos/videos instead. Training and recovery have to come first some things just have to be skipped.

Friday evening watching Scrubs with my dog..
Friday evening watching Scrubs with my dog..

Groups runs are my social life
I hear often “I wouldn’t like running in a group” from both runners and non-runners. The truth about my group runs is that it’s my social life during marathon season! It’s been said often, but some friends go to the bar together on a Friday night and runners hit the trail together on the weekend. It’s amazing how much you can get to know someone when you’re spending 2-3 hours running with them at a time.

I can’t eat whatever I want
“Oh, you’re running so much you can eat that donut/ice cream/cookie” Sure, I can, but really I can’t. Food is fuel and also aids in recovery. During marathon training I am more conscious about what I eat. Not only to eat healthy, but to ensure I’m getting enough carbs, calories, fat, and other nutrients. I don’t have guilt eating a donut, but I try to stay away from crappy foods since they’re no help to training. I save that for the week after the race!

I do like my beer during training!
I do like my beer during training!

Not every run is good or fun
Some runs just flat out suck, especially in the heat of summer or cold of winter. Being fit doesn’t mean that every run comes easy or every one is fun. I genuinely enjoy running which helps me power through the crappy runs and look forward to the other runs.

Anything can happen on race day
To me the scariest thing about the marathon is that 18 weeks of training can go amazing, but anything can happen on race day. The distance is unforgiving and simply going out too fast, fueling incorrectly, the weather, mental discouragement, or just a day of uncooperative body reaction can be enough to throw things off. After 18 weeks of training, I want to give it my all so I don’t want to hold back, but the possibility of falling apart is always a scary one when it’s such a long way to go.

There are so many truths to the process that I could go on all day, but I won’t. I’d love to hear some of your truths about marathon training!



9 thoughts on “Truths About Marathon Training

  1. Love this post. It is so easy to train when I am feeling great and the weather is cooperating. Getting out and doing it when you just don’t feel up to it or when you would rather be making plans with friends is the challenging part. I’ve been truly enjoying my break from marathon training this year since it is a lot easier to be flexible with my training (see also: 2 missed runs and counting this week). Like you said the consequences of a missed or shortened run just aren’t as drastic with shorter races. The marathon demands respect.

    On the other hand, when I do get around to running my next marathon, there is a pretty high likelihood that I will see some solid improvements. I’ll just need to start piling on the long slow miles again. The same can’t be said with 5ks and halfs. With shorter races there is this fear that I’ve already reached my full potential or the types/frequency of my speed work won’t be enough. But I guess that is why I like it. I like challenging myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a much easier time getting myself out and running in the summer than the winter, but there have definitely been mornings that I’ve wanted to skip this summer! For now I’m sticking to one marathon once a year because it is such a commitment. I haven’t raced much at the shorter distances so in the spring my goal race is going to be a shorter one, but it will still take a lot of work for me to get where I want to be for that one. The upside is I’ll run less days per week, but with the speed work I’ll need it will be a whole different balance of training.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

    I’m with you in that the scariest part of the whole process is that the race day could go wrong, leaving you feeling like all those months of training were for nothing. That’s why I think it behooves runners training for the marathon to be a little more flexible and open-ended about their race goals, rather than “I must get X:XX finish time, because reasons!!!” When you shift to the mindset of being invested in the journey rather than the outcome, it becomes a lot easier to feel successful even if you don’t hit your time goal or you have a bad race day. Not anyone can just wake up in the morning and run a marathon, which is why I like to remind people (and myself) that it’s not getting to the finish line that’s the accomplishment – it’s getting to the starting line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 100% yes! I think you have to genuinely enjoy running/training to really get everything out of marathon training because if you don’t enjoy the journey and then have a bad race it would feel like such a waste. I’ve never understood when people get so stressed out by mile splits and whatnot when racing at any distance because there is so much to consider with each mile it’s not likely every split will be completely even.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

        Absolutely! The reason I’m able to do all of these races and training cycles is because I really do enjoy the training for its own sake – I love the structure, the hard workouts, the slow gradual build. Race day will come and go, so even if you do really well at the race, you’ll never really be satisfied if you didn’t enjoy the journey to get there. Plus as I like to remind everyone – those fitness gains stay with you! They don’t just go away once you cross the finish line. You’ve improved your overall running too!


  3. Jennifer @ Dashing in Style

    Great post! The lack of social life is a big one for me. It hasn’t hit me yet but I know it’s coming. And yeah, I have had so many great training cycles followed by a bad race, and I know that so many more things can happen on marathon race day. I can say though that I’m genuinely enjoying the process of training so far. I’m determined to stay focused in my journey and not on the race!


  4. I hear you on these- especially the sacrifices! My colleagues sometimes get funny with me if I bail on a night out because i’m exhausted/getting sick/have to run. But to be honest I’ve just added an extra facet to my life, and we only have a finite amount of time or energy!


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