I am running a marathon in less than two months. It is time to accept that it is going to hurt.
There’s a theory that women forget the pain of giving birth. Many say it is a myth, but how do you explain all the other babies? I remember childbirth being a piece of cake—a ghost pepper cake with jalapeño frosting. Seriously, though, I did eat spicy food right before I went into labor. And, back to the point, I don’t recall how much pain I was in before the nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural and my husband screamed, “Yes!”
In my mind, a marathon doesn’t seem all that difficult. Besides, I’ve run two before, so I know what to expect. Right? Do we forget the pain of running a marathon like we forget childbirth? (It’s not a myth!) How else do you explain all the other marathons?
After 12 miles last weekend, I started to remember, though, in my hips, my back, my neck, my ankles, my toes, the space in between my toes, and pretty much everywhere else besides my face. My face is fine despite the grimacing.
Now that my body mentions it, I sort of remember the end of my last marathon in 2015. I remember the Tin-Man hips. I recall how running was as painful as childbirth—just kidding, I totally forget how much that hurt. It was really bad, though. And walking was worse. I remember wishing I was somewhere else—anywhere else, perhaps even in one of those famously comfortable maternity room hospital beds. I remember pulling my running hat down over my eyes as I hobbled through mile 21.
I also remember other runners encouraging me—even trying to get me to run with them. As if! I was too far down the pain hole for that. I couldn’t see their light.
Looking back, though, I know what my problem was—besides the gluten intolerance I wasn’t aware of yet, which would’ve been useful information. My (biggest) problem was expectations. I blame my first marathon for that. The glorious one. The one where I was obnoxiously joyful. I was expecting that same euphoric experience during my second marathon. And I already explained how that went.
I’ve adopted a new mantra for my next marathon: Expect and accept the pain. Perhaps, you think this is a negative way of looking at things, but the unicorn-and-rainbow mindset I had before didn’t exactly work, did it?
Marathons are hard, and this one is going to be harder than the last one. And not just because I’m older or have new health issues, or that I’m severely undertrained—actually, come to think of it, yes. Yes, that’s exactly why it’s going to be hard. And I expect and accept it. Bring on the pain.
I think most runners would say any day is a good day for running, but c’mon, we all know that some days are better than others. I prefer mine without wind or precipitation, with loads of sunshine and an air temperature between 55 and 60 degrees, and on a trail. I also prefer a point-to-point run, but we can’t have everything.
Sunday was a good day for running in the Pacific Northwest. And I’ve been running more lately because I was somehow tricked (*cough* free entry *cough*) into signing up for a marathon in June. The weather has been tragically dark and wet for much longer into spring than normal, but the clouds finally broke up on Sunday.
The day met all of my running requirements, except for that darn point-to-point one. To make things even better, a bicycle club was holding a race and part of the route was on my trail. This meant there were a lot of people out, so I could just relax and run without worrying too much about sketchy characters on some of the typically less-traveled sections.
These ideal conditions made for a super run. Plus, I was listening to fun, upbeat music that had me dancing and singing…out loud. And nobody even looked at me crazy because, hey, most of them were participating in a 50-mile bicycle race. I just wanted 8 miles, but I got 9—and my last mile was my fastest, which was crazy because I wasn’t even trying to go fast. You know how sometimes you just feel so great?
But this isn’t my first time at the rodeo, either, so when I came home, I used the foam roller—AKA torture device—for 30 minutes. Later, I soaked in Epsom salts. I was surprised at how good I felt. But I should have known it couldn’t last.
DOMS struck Monday morning. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is pain that occurs about 24-72 hours after strenuous exercise, especially if you are unaccustomed to said exercise. *ahem* (Please refer to last month when I was running, at most, 3 miles per week.) The American College of Sports Medicine says the best way to prevent DOMS is to “…progress slowly in a new program.”
As I limped downstairs for coffee Monday morning, I cursed the sunshine, the happy music, the trail and, especially, those friendly cyclists.
So, I guess I’m hoping for some better running conditions this weekend—like 40 degrees and pouring rain. And maybe I’ll listen to some insurance seminars and run the sidewalks while I’m at it.
Kerrie Turcic is a runner from Maple Valley, Wash. Kerrie is currently a copywriter by day, and also a