Things I’ve learned about marathon training runs over the last few years:

Weather. It’s always too hot or too cold. Too cloudy or too sunny. Too rainy/snowy or too windy and dry. Doesn’t matter if you’re in Boston, MA or Bridgetown, Barbados. The 45-50 degree perfect run temperature with light cloud cover and little wind remains elusive.

Friendliness. Smiling and saying hi to other runners and pedestrians and waving at cars makes my runs more fun—even if sometimes I get only grunts or weird cocked eyebrow glances in response. 

Chocolate Gu with caffeine. A must for any run over 90 minutes. Someone recently told me at an athletic store that it contains real Belgian chocolate (thus explaining why it’s so tasty). I don’t necessarily believe that but sure does make you want to keep testing it to see if it’s true.

Feet. Blisters and strange bluish toenails after anything over 14 miles is a given. I haven’t found a wicking sock or the right shoe fit that doesn’t leave at least one of my toes the worse for wear after training season. Why don’t I care that much? Because blisters on the feet are better (in my opinion) than blisters on your hands (years of rowing). And toenails always grow back.

Bodily Harm. While my dad likes to send me articles about marathon runners dying, my training is no where near that level and overall as led to a lot of great health benefits. However, I have had a recurring injury somewhat unrelated. My feeling? If they’re not going to lead to permanent damage, you just have to power through. For example, two years ago after having an amazing training season (and in the middle of my taper—the time when you are cutting back on working out), I woke up in the middle of the night with blinding pain in my left knee. I’d been dead asleep on my back and BAM! out of nowhere, sharp, gasping, searing pain. Last week, when I was doing the least amount of working out or running—pretty much just sitting or standing in a hospital all week with a family illness—my lower back/hip started hurting. Now it’s migrated down to my left knee (the one from 2008) and is sharing its painful love. Apparently my body is extremely prone to injury when doing absolutely nothing related to marathon running. Eight words: Thank goodness for pain relievers and massage therapists.

Fuel. Long runs = the right to eat as much brunch as I want…almost. In the last few miles of a long run, even with the help of a few Gu, I start getting really hungry. I truly believe that the reason the last few miles of my runs are often slightly faster than my first is that I start thinking about chocolate chip pancakes at Deluxe Town Diner, the Garden Deluxe crepe at Cafénation, or every scramble at The Friendly Toast. One certain group of lady friends and I eat so often at Cafénation that to go even one weekend without a visit is a major sin (and I should also add they donated to the marathon so thank you!!!).

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