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17 Things to Expect When Running Your First Marathon

You've put in months of training and hours on the road, logged hundreds of miles running and a whole lot of sore muscles. Now it's time to toe the line in your first marathon. Hurrah! But what's really going to happen when you go the full 26.2 miles? Likely, some good things, some bad things, and some downright ugly things. We know running your first marathon can be electrifying and terrifying. So we're here to help you prepare with 17 truths when it comes to going the distance.

1. Double knot your shoelaces. Really. Just do it.

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2. You know to start slowly, right? How slow? Even slower than you think. No, wait: Even slower than you're thinking right now.

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3. You'll doubt yourself early in the race: "What?! I've only run three miles? I have how many to go? No way. I'm never going to make it." Don't worry, you will.

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4. You'll also get cocky: "I could run forever. I totally have another 16 miles in me. Marathons are easy." Easy there, tiger. The worst is yet to come.

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5. The worst we warned you about? The wall—it's real and it's painful. Keep calm and shuffle on: "I think I can...I think I can..." Just don't give up.

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6. Yes, you can still say you "ran" a marathon even if you walked some of it.

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7. Can't remember what your pace was supposed to be at mile 10? Yeah, marathon brain is real. Just forget the plan and run.

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8. There's no crying in baseball, but there's totally crying in running. Bursting into tears mid-race happens to many a marathoner. Let it flow, then move on.

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9. Those tights that were so comfortable on your last 20-miler? Yeah, they'll feel like sandpaper by the end. Chafing happens, even down there. Too bad there wasn't a vat of lube to dip your body into at the starting line.

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10. No, you're not almost there—no matter what the spectators say. Ignore them—you're almost there when you can see the finish line with your eyeballs, not in a dehydration-induced hallucination.

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11. An old lady just passed you! Close your jaw—it's a rite of passage to get thrashed by a white-haired wonder. She's older, she's faster, and she's run more races than you. With luck, you just might become her someday.

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12. Get used to vurping (burping a bit of vomit). With gels and sports drinks jiggling around your tummy, it's inevitable. You'll see people pee, poo, and puke too. Bodily fluids happen. (Whatever it takes, right?)

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13. Smile for your finisher photo! You'll look awful: salt caked on your face, dried gel and spit bubbles around your mouth, a glazed look in your eyes, with swollen fingers and soaking wet clothes. Doesn't matter, smile anyway!

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14. Why is everyone on this side of the finish line moving so slowly? Oh, wait, we're supposed to walk now? How do you do that agin?

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15. Yeah, those legs are already telling you they're going to force you to walk backward down stairs, curbs, and ramps for the next few days.

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16. Savor the unique feeling of wanting to die and weirdly enjoying the last three, most painful hours of your life. Yes, it really was fun. Enjoy it! You only get one first marathon.

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17. You'll never want to run another marathon ever again. Then you'll register for your second one the next day. You'll forget the pain and only remember the glory.

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All images via Giphy.

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