Written on: October 17, 2017
by Elisa Coleclough
You may prepare really hard, stick to diet, training, even run 35kms like I did, but you really need to run it, to understand it. Running a marathon is more than just a physical experience, it is a mental challenge.
Not a linear equation.
You may think that if I ran 21k in 2hours 17mins, I would be able to do 42k in 4hrs. 34mins approx. The marathon is not such a linear equation whatsoever. There is the tiredness of sustained intensity. It is actually said that at some point you may add up to 25% over your average time if not well trained.
Besides preparing yourself physically, mentally it is said that you face what is called “the wall” (and it is not precisely Pink Floyds CD). The wall is different to every runner, it might be mental (wanting to give up, demotivation, etc), but it might be physical: dizziness, cramps, or event fainting. The wall is viewed by every runner with certain respect.
Walk the walk, talk the talk.
People can tell you about their own experiences but you need to live your own. Here is a small summary of what went thru my head in this 42K.
The first 10k I was feeling amazing, from good to better.
About 15k, I just felt that I needed to regulate my energy to be able to get to the end in one piece.
About 18k, I knew I was in fine condition, but my mind felt fear for all the miles I had ahead of me…but I was certain up to 35k, I was ok. I had already trained 35k, so I shook up the fear and moved on.
About 21k, I had done my best time ever with 2hrs 11mins the half marathon and I had the certainty that I could go for other 14kms without any problem. My training had my back.
I entered the Puerto Madero circuit, one of the first places in which I started training with my coworkers. Memories of my first 7k and 10k came to my mind, and my mind started to drift away, to wander unnoticeably in front of my own eyes.
As the end of that circuit came, I caught a final glimpse of the place and I felt nostalgic. What was happening to me? I looked at my watch I was right on time to achieve about 30K in 3 hours, pretty good timing indeed.
By that time, I was around the 28km, unaware, however, that the runner’s wall, like a bullet, had hit me right between my eyes. All of a sudden between km 29 and 30, I realized tears were rolling down my cheeks, my chest felt an oppression and I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.
I realized what was happening, but I could not control it. And if I wanted to regain quickly control of the situation I needed to let it flow. “Don’t fight it, let it flow, it will solve” I said to myself.
I allowed myself to connect with my emotions, started to walk as my motivation and my mojo were hacked by my mind. I walked for over 1km.
As I was calming down, I was doing some legs stretch and inverted jumps to avoid cramps and give my legs a “rest” from the running. Moving them in different directions. I saw the runners go by and I knew my perfect timing was gone, but it was important for me to overcome the moment in order to go on.
I used positivity and tried to think in positive stuff, memories but none seemed to come to my mind. So I restored to mindfulness, I simply concentrated on the moment: the city, the sky, the sun shining bright, the wind, the music. It all helped me to pull myself together again.
Eventually, I started running again. It was not the same of course, motivation was low, mojo was lost, tiredness had taken a toll on my body and mind. But I was determined to get to the goal.
For the following 10K I exercised my body and my resilience, getting over the so called runner’s wall. It had not been as I had thought it would be, but definitely part of the game is that it totally takes you off guard and it is up to you to deal with it the best you can.
As I reflected deeply on the whole experience, suddenly, my eyes met the 40k sign. I started feeling happy, but the happiness was mixed with tears of joy, and I ran faster doing my best, which was not much, but was my best.
After the ramp of the River Club bridge, there was my husband who saw me and join me running by my side, saying words of love, motivation, encouragement. I caught a glimpse of my running mates, they were by the side, cheering and clapping as if I had been the number one runner to get to the goal. Those last meters are so important, I have seen people faint down just before the goal. You need that extra fuel that friendship, love and support can provide.
I reached the goal. I finally got there. I picked up my medal. I am officially graduated as marathoner with my first 42k in 5hours 11minutes and I am absolutely proud of it. Can I do better? Of course, in all senses. I will next time!
By the finish line: it was impossible not to feel moved. Peopled arrived to the goal with their last breath many greeted by their families, friends, children, some kneeled down to kiss the floor. No one knows exactly what goes on inside the mind of runner, you need to live it to understand it.
This medal is gold for me. After all, with “the wall” and everything, my TomTom GPS says, this has been my best time ever in a full marathon. So it tells me one thing, and one thing only: You may have ups and downs, the point is how you deal with the hardship, how you overcome it and learn from it.
Will I run another marathon next year? by all means. I have learned so many things in this marathon. Many more than I have shared with you in this brief lines. About how to manage best my energy flow, my emotions, how to deal with the “wall”, how to avoid being hacked, best reactions. I am also certain that first run is unforgettable, but the following ones with more self-awareness and knowledge, I will be able to enjoy them a lot more.
Finally, I will leave here some fun video for your to laugh and understand more what might happen inside a runner’s head… link here enjoy!
Please leave me your comments: are you a runner? Have you experienced “the wall”? what are your tips and tricks to get over difficult situations while running long distance? In other sports, is there something like the “wall”? please share with me… looking forward to your comments in the box below.
Have a great day/week, Eli.