I've always been a runner. I taught myself to run on my middle school's track clutching an anti-skip CD player loaded with a Linkin Park CD in the early millennium and was hooked from there on out. But although I've graduated from cross country races to ten-milers and half-marathons, this coming Spring will (hopefully) be the first time I run a full marathon. And because I am neurotic about preparation and have a long love/hate relationship with my shins, I've been training in advance, and I've learned that there are more than a few things you become obsessed with when training for a marathon.
I guess like anyone who is training for their first, I have some reason to be nervous, since there are so many things even experienced runners can't anticipate when they're faced with a distance as long as 26 miles. Hell, I haven't even picked out which race I'm doing yet (and am TOTALLY open for suggestions if anyone has any, barring a Disney race, because I did that last year and nobody is allowed to have that much fun consecutively, FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY.) In the meantime, I'll just keep chugging along with all the new things that I just can't stop talking about to save my life:
The Perfect Sock
I learned this the hard way, and by the hard way I mean a blister that grew inside of a blister, like complete Blister Inception. It went on for a month and it was gruesome and...well...fluid. (Sorry.) I guess I'd just been running on normal human socks my whole life and had that "I'm a teenager, I'm invincible!" bullheadedness last into my twenties, but when I finally got wick away socks and oohhhh, the magic. I can almost let my feet be seen in public again.
Sport Jelly Beans
OK, these beans are nasty as all hell, but an hour and a half into a run they are your life. I could never get into the Gu packs and maybe should give them a second chance someday, but the jelly beans just make me unreasonably happy because they are A) super adorable, and B) make you feel like a superhuman after you've scarfed a few.
Perfecting Your Playlist
If I hear a song with a good beat on the radio I can promise you within five seconds I'm googling the BPM and within ten I've purchased it on iTunes and added it to a rotating playlist I've subtly labeled "Badass."
The Magic Earbuds
I promise I'm not trying to sell you anything but I can't not scream to the high heavens about how much the yurbuds headphones have changed my running. I feel like a god. The earbuds are specially designed so that they never fall out when you inevitably get so sweaty that bugs die just making contact with your face, and they even stay lodged even when you accidentally yank on the cord. I only wish they'd been invented sooner. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH OF MY LIFE I HAVE WASTED SHOVING EARBUDS BACK INTO MY EARS? Probably not a lot, but I resent it just the same.
Finding Routes That Aren't Super Boring
The trouble with marathon training is that you run. A lot. And if you run in the neighborhood you start to see the same things over and over and over again. Every time you drive to another neighborhood you find yourself unconsciously scoping out the sidewalks and cataloguing it for later.
Finding A Trail Buddy
TRAILS ARE THE BEST. No intersections or annoying cars and all the nature makes you feel connected with the universe. Unfortunately it's not super safe for anyone to be running around on them alone, so if you find a fellow runner who is willing to get on a trail with you, you do everything in your power not to seem as desperately excited as you actually are. PLAY IT COOL. JUST PLAY IT COOL.
Tracking The Sun
"Safety is sexy," said no person who ever needed to wear a reflective vest on a run. I'm constantly checking the time that the sun rises so I can avoid jumping it (THANK YOU, daylight savings time), but as the days get shorter I am forced to face the fact that my reflective gear and I are going to be getting reacquainted soon.
Oh hey there, everyone, what's up? *casually sits with legs crossed and flexes calves*
Yeah. These are real.
And using the word "cross-training" liberally in every conversation you initiate.
Aka, the only real reason for anyone to train for a marathon in the first place. These races might as well be called brunch-a-thons. Because after I've come back from a long run, my number one – nay, only – priority is eating everything in sight, and seeing as I've just proven that I have the endurance to do anything, so DON'T TEST ME.
Your Elbow Span
I am not promoting the irritating practice of elbowing people out of your way at starting lines (I'm looking at you, every middle-aged man ever), BUT you might as well know how to protect yourself, so yeah, every now and then when there aren't cars passing by, I'll unleash my elbow wings. Caw cawwwww, bitches.
Rest In Peace.
The Mystery Runners
If you run the same routes every day odds are you're going to be seeing some of the same fellow masochists over and over again. For instance, there is a redheaded girl in my neighborhood and we pass each other every weekday morning, without fail, between 7:30 and 7:40. She never makes eye contact or waves, and although I am offended by this, I am also obsessed. I find myself inventing a life for her in all the spare time I have running. Who is she?? What is she training for? Where did she get those cute purple shoes?
I read in an article once that this was healthy for you post-workout, and even if that turns out not to be true, I refuse to believe otherwise.