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What I Learned Training for (and Not Running) a Marathon

The last time I checked in on here about my marathon training I was just starting out and so excited about it, but a lot has changed since then! I still love running, I’m excited by the prospect of running a marathon, but unfortunately that won’t be happening this year.

I made a promise to myself at the beginning of my training that I wasn’t going to let the excitement of one race ruin my longterm health – if I got injured, I was done. I love running way too much to risk a major injury. So when I pulled my left hamstring as a result of overcompensation, it was tough but I knew I needed to do. But wow was it hard to walk away from training when I felt like I was just starting to hit some major mileage. It was such a blow to my confidence and self esteem and looking back I didn’t really realize how much of my self worth was wrapped up in my training.

At the time of my injury, I was a little more than half way through my training. I was running 25 miles a week with my long runs getting up to 14 miles. I was only 6 miles away from my longest training run and I felt like this major goal of mine of was finally within my reach. But I went on a short 3-mile run and about a mile in I felt a pull in my hamstring. I went to a physical therapist a couple of weeks later and he confirmed that my hamstring was overcompensating for weaker parts of my body. I have a bad right hip and my core wasn’t as strong as it should have been, so my hamstring was pulling too hard. He gave me exercises to help strengthen the area around it and told me to stay off of it for another few weeks and thankfully all of that worked! I went on my first real run in almost 2 months last weekend and it was honestly the best feeling in the world. It completely validated all my decision and I’m so excited to get back out there (even though it’s about to be winter lol).

I’m disappointed I won’t be crossing that finish line in a few weeks, but mostly relieved that I don’t have a long-term injury. I’m planning on running a half marathon in the spring and would definitely consider training for a marathon again, but for now I’m happy to run whatever mileage I can and get back into some full-body workouts. I’m excited to try some new workouts, too, once I feel fully healed – boxing maybe?

I’ve learned a lot about my body throughout this process and what I need to do in order to stay safe while pushing myself so much, as well as a ton about committing to something as intense as a marathon. A few thoughts:

  • Don’t skimp on cross-training. As my runs got longer and took up more time, cross-training became less and less of a priority. I really regret not taking cross-training more seriously since it would have helped so much with injury prevention. Definitely a lesson learned.
  • You don’t have to make every run. When I started my training I really struggled with the sheer number of days a week I was running. I was honestly more worried about burnout than any sort of physical challenge. That’s when I decided that I didn’t have to do every single run listed on my training schedule. I stuck to it as much as I could and never missed a long run, but there were some days when having a life was more important than my tempo run and I was still in great shape. Training for a marathon is such a huge commitment as it is – don’t beat yourself up about missing one run a week.
  • You will get bored. To be fair, I pretty much knew this would happen and I was glad I was mentally prepared for it. It’s really hard to stay motivated when you’re doing the same thing for hours everyday, but I found a couple ways to combat it: always be finding new music, get into podcasts (I didn’t think I’d be able to run and listen to podcasts at the same time, but I totally got into it!), and run new paths to mix things up.
  • Listen to your body. Even though I’m really disappointed I won’t be running my marathon, I’m so grateful I listened to my body and didn’t try to push myself too far. I would be devastated if I couldn’t run at this level again and having running as a tool for my long-term well being is the most important thing.
  • I see the appeal of running with a team. I love running because, for me, it’s a solitary sport. I love that I can tune out, listen to my music, walk and run when I want, etc. And day-to-day I would never consider running with other people. But for a big race like this, I understand why people join big teams. I would have loved to not only have other people to keep me accountable, but also would have taken advantage of the resources and expertise that being on a team with a coach would have given me. It’s hard to do something like this by yourself and I clearly needed more direction from an expert, so I would definitely consider this the next time I train.
  • I really love to run! This sounds cheesy, but I really came to appreciate how much I love running while doing this whole thing. It makes me feel powerful in a way that nothing else does. People always ask me how I can run so much and it’s honestly because I really enjoy it. A doctor told me once that the best workout is the one you like and I couldn’t agree more.

2 Comments

  • Grandma

    It’s so great you are feeling better and back to running. Good for you for sticking
    to it! Happy Halloween from all of us in Australia, miss you!
    Love, Grandma

    • Maddie Brady

      Thanks, Grandma! It was hard to take time off (you know me, I’m always go go go!), but I’m really glad I did and it feels so good to workout again. Hope you guys had a spooky Halloween! Tell everyone I love them! Love, Maddie

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