After a rough spring and summer with my startup (post coming), I found myself having a weight of 87kg. I’m 180cm tall, so this is not “very fat” or “obese”, but enough to definitely categorize me as “overweight”.
I *hate* being overweight, so I decided to fix the problem. I had previously run a couple of half marathons, but nothing more than that. To solve my overweight problem, I signed up for Copenhagen Half Marathon in September followed up by a half marathon in Muggelsee, Berlin. Since this has developed into a more ambitious goal of running Pisa Marathon in December 2017.
The overweight has partly been solved. I’m 81kg and still need to lose 3-4 kg more, but it’s not downright embarrassing anymore – just not good looking. However, the reason for this post is to share some very interesting realizations I’ve made from preparing for a marathon – running 42km in less than 6.5 hours (and hopefully less than 5h!).
7 Surprises preparing for my first marathon
Not every week is a personal record
This one could be a post of its own.
Whenever you post something on social media, it’s about your personal record. I am very much doing this myself. Example just after Copenhagen Half Marathon:
However, when you run 3-5 times every week, not every single run is a personal record. Every run is definitely not interesting or shareable – it’s a ****ing grind.
When you wake up 6:30 am and run for the 4th time a week in rain, it’s not something you always enjoy. It’s GREAT when you’re done – but it’s not sexy, interesting or something that will give you hundreds of likes.
This is even more true for long passes. Every weekend I do one long run. I follow a running schedule, and then the plan, for instance, says “run 18 kilometers”.
Trust me – sometimes your body will just nope the fuck out, and not even allow you to run 10 kilometers. That sucks. And you WALK the rest, combining running and walking. It fucking sucks. Yes, it’s hard. But you do it.
Long runs can be a grind, and when you finally get to beat your personal record it’s nice. But the large majority of your runs is a grind that’s neither sexy or interesting.
Planning long running routes are difficult
When you’re running 5km, it’s easy to plan a route. Often you know a good nice path, and you can even include a bit nature on the way.
When you run longer, it’s much more difficult.
Let’s say you need to run 22 kilometers. 22 Kilometers is a real distance. 22 Kilometers is something that easily could take 45 minutes using public transport or a car when there is a bit traffic.
The real challenge is that you, of course, want to see new things every week. Running the same path every week sucks. But how do you find the correct way?
I’m not very good at directions, and that means I have to memorize long distances in my head. Memorizing 22 kilometers and changing that every week is DIFFICULT.
I am writing this post after I delivered a friend in Schönefeld Airport, Berlin. I ran back to my home, which is roughly 20 kilometers. This was a nice and creative trip, and very easy directions because I had to turn a couple of times… But the vast majority of my runs is a mess of finding directions and keeping it interesting.
Another fun thing is that instead of small romantic trips in your city, you suddenly find yourself dealing with real road signs:
You need to buy new running shoes often
Buying a new pair of running shoes are quite expensive – at least 100€+.
Where I come from, the usual result of buying some running shoes would be that they wouldn’t be used that much. Because of that upbringing, I never really worry about shoes becoming worn.
But running shoes are not very durable. Depending on the shoe some say a pair lasts 5-600km, some the double… I am not going to into details, but let’s just say it’s 1000km. If you run 40km a week – which you should if you’re doing a marathon – that’s only 25 weeks. That’s actually 2 pairs of running shoes per year.
To make matters worse, I can guarantee that you won’t think about this. I have had this problem two times – and the signal was that my feet were becoming blue. For the last three weeks, my toes bottom of my feet has been dark blue. I’ve now bought a new pair of running shoes and it feels MUCH better.
Sometimes it rains
When you look at images from people who run, it’s always in BEAUTIFUL settings. Sunshine, lakes, mountains and a big smile on the runner.
Unless you live in Florida or somewhere awesome, chances are your everyday running is much more about rain, strong winds, freezing and a desperate look on your face.
When I was out running two weeks ago, the first ten kilometers were OK. Not beautiful or Instagram-worthy, but definetely OK. Then the rain came. And we’re talking the sky just OPENED ITSELF and it rained NONSTOP. Everyone else was smart enough to realize their umbrealls wasn’t enough and they hided inside cafes and got a good hot chocolate.
Not if you’re preparing for a marathon. Then you continue – in the rain – and when you’re home even your underwear couldn’t be wetter.
Not very Instagram worthy.
Running is more meditation than reflection
I always thought that running this much would make me reflect on SO many things!
All these hours on the road should, of course, result in very sharp plans for my business and everything else!
Instead, my mind when running is more like:
To me running is MUCH more like meditation. The sharpest thoughts I have while running is often “I should definitely buy a kebab when I’m home“.
Honestly, it feels like my mind just shuts off. I can easily be “offline” for a couple of kilometers without having any thoughts. Afterwards, I feel very happy and relaxed and it has pretty much the same result as when you meditate.
Podcasts are not long enough
Podcasts usually only last 30 minutes to an hour, and the iTunes Podcast app sucks. I haven’t figured out how to queue podcasts yet.
But honestly, the real problem is that I love listening to podcasts when I have the energy. The first hour of running, podcasts are great. But when things get ROUGH for me – especially after 15km – my mind just doesn’t accept podcasts or books anymore. Then it needs some good music.
The real surprise to me is that when the body is screaming for help and is becoming tired – podcasts are not a good option.
Good running clothes make a difference
The first long time of exercising, I was just running in whatever old clothes I have. Usually some very old jogging pants and an overwashed soccer t-shirt.
I’ve always been against spending money on equipment to start on something. I’m a strong believer you can do most sport for very little money, preferably none, and when you become GOOD at it- buying the equipment should be a reward for sticking to it.
However, I stayed with my old jogging pants way too long. I had started to have a lot of problems with heat, and my nipples were bleeding after 15km if I had forgotten a bandage (and nipples bleeding is the most painful thing in the world – nothing can beat it).
When I went to a sports store and bought everything the fine salesman convinced me was a good idea it changed my running. I had WAY fewer problems with temperature, I was less hindered in my running and it was much more enjoyable. And I stopped having problems with my nipples from that day.
That’s my initial reflections. Wish me luck in Pisa – I’m sure it will be a very good Instagram moment when I’m done:)