When it comes to running a marathon, preparation is everything. From the right training plan, to learning how to fuel your long runs, there’s lots to remember. That said, there’s lots you’ll learn along the way too. Here’s 17 things our readers said 26.2 miles taught them:
1. Jenny: That the outcome doesn’t matter. How long did it take? I ran a marathon. Did you get a good time? I ran a marathon. Did you have to walk? I completed 26.2 miles. Under my own steam. On my own two feet.
2. Nick: That after 22 miles I develop Tourette’s.
3. Jim: The first 20 miles are in your legs, the last 10K is in your head.
4. Sandy: That I am capable of so much more than I ever thought I was.
5. Vicki: That you can meet a complete stranger in the starting pen and run 26.2 miles together like you’ve known each other your whole life. We laughed, we talked, did a lot of swearing, waved at each other’s family like we knew them and crossed the finish line holding hands.
6. Anne: That 26.2 miles is a very long way.
7. Michelle: That at 49 I thought I’d left it a little late to decide to run a marathon. Then I had all the stars align on the day and got a time I never believed possible. That’ll teach me…now I have a GFA place for London 2019 as a result. Nothing is impossible if you dare to believe!
8. Andrew: That I was in love with my running buddy. We trained hard over the winter months for the Barcelona Marathon and those long runs really tested our friendship but helped us develop a bond. We set out as good friends and crossed the finish line as lovers. We get married next month.
9. Kenneth: The first one taught me what my actual shoe size is – it cost me seven toe nails and a load of blood blisters! The following seven marathons have all taught me something, mostly how much I love to run, and how great supportive people and other runners can be.
10. Richard: Live in the moment and take it all in. There is more to running than just the time!
11. Jaqueline: That it’s like childbirth – you say never again, then, before you know it, you’ve entered another one! I am running Venice this year, it’s my third and definitely my last (I think!).
12. Fiona: That the training is key – you can’t wing a marathon. It’s a mental thing right from the start, and the training helps make you mentally strong too.
13. Julie: That jelly babies taste great up to mile 13. After you finish, you'll never want to eat one again.
14. Carolina: To be flexible with your training plan, as, much like life, sometimes things don’t quite work out the way you planned. Nobody is invincible, so respect and appreciate your body.
15. Emma: That you have to have bad runs to appreciate the good and that nutrition and a good night’s sleep beforehand are key.
16. Keith: That the power of the mind can get you through the most difficult situations. I ran Brighton marathon four months after losing my mum to cancer. If she could battle a very aggressive cancer without complaining, I could get out the door and train for a marathon without making a fuss.
17. Ruth: To smile and grit your teeth at the spectator at mile 23 who says “there’s only a parkrun to go”.