During this marathon training, I have learned a lot about myself, and about my running. I have experienced new things and changes that I didn’t know that I would. I have been asked questions about how training for a marathon has affected my body. So, I thought I would share with you. First of all, let me say that everyone is different, and everyone’s body handles things in different ways. I am only sharing my experience with how my body was affected during my marathon training. I am not an expert at any of this; it was all a learning experience for me. I learned what worked and what didn’t, and I learned what to do differently next time. Throughout all of this, when I would notice things, I didn’t know if they were normal or not. It wasn’t until I wrote about some of it and got confirmation in my comments from many of you that have done this before me that I realized that it was okay.
- My appetite – My appetite completely changed during this training. It’s been all over the place. In the beginning of the training, I started noticing that I was hungry most of the time. And not hungry like I’m bored and it will pass. But, hungry with stomach growling and feeling sick because I need to eat. I used to never wake up hungry, and I wouldn’t eat breakfast until 9-9:30. But, that has changed! I have been woken up by my stomach growling so many times during this training. I could eat a good breakfast around 7:30, and then by 10:30 my stomach would be growling again. Between lunch and dinner, I had to eat a snack too. This was different for me because I never eat snacks in the morning. And, usually a granola bar or a banana would suffice in the afternoon, but not for awhile. I also started noticing that even if I ate something before my run, sometimes my stomach would start growling during my run. There were times when I had to take a break to eat something because I started feeling sick. But, towards the end of training, I started finding that after my long runs I was not hungry at all. The thought of food made me sick, and trying to get down a protein shake was even worse. When I ran the 18 miler, I did it early that morning, and I was not hungry until around 6 that evening. It hit very suddenly and I got sick because I hadn’t eaten. Used to when I would run anything over probably 6 miles, I would be super hungry almost immediately after finishing, and also the rest of the day. Sometimes like a bottomless pit. But, now after my long runs I have had no appetite at all. Even later that day or night, I don’t feel like eating much. (Side note: I have read several places that you will gain weight during training. I only gained 4 pounds. So, I think probably just depends on each person.)
- Stomach issues – This has been a big one. And, I’m sure in some weird way this is all tied together, but I’m not a doctor so I don’t know how. But, in the last few weeks of training, I had a lot of trouble with my stomach. Nothing seemed to settle right, and everything upset it. I used to be able to eat a granola bar and then go run within 20 minutes of eating it. But during training, I had to wait at least an hour before I could run after eating. Even when I wasn’t running, anything made me feel sick. Even just a light meal or snack would upset my stomach. Food that I have never had trouble with before would make it hurt. This also ties into my appetite. I’m hungry, usually just in the mornings. Then, later in the evening I have no appetite at all. It has been really strange. And, if you read my race recap, you know I had a lot of tummy troubles during the race. A friend thinks maybe it was all the stress building up to the big event. I don’t know…
- Exhausted – During the second half of training, especially the last few weeks with really long runs, I was completely exhausted. My body didn’t want to cooperate on my runs because it was so tired. I felt like I had bricks tied to my shoes, and every step took every bit of effort that I had. After my runs, all I wanted to do is sleep. This was one thing that I wrote about because I was worried that it was just me getting sick, or just not getting enough rest. But, a few of you said you remembered feeling like this during the end of your training too. So, that eased my mind. I know that after my 20 miler, the next couple of weeks felt much better. I wasn’t as tired, and I felt like I had more energy.
- Emotional – My emotions have been completely out of whack! Usually running puts me in a good mood. But, after some of my runs, I was very irritable and cranky. And again, I’m sure all of this ties in together with eating, sleeping, and running. If I had a bad run, I was in an awful mood. But, at the same time, there were days when I had a good run and I was in an awful mood too. I don’t know why, but I’ve been up and down throughout this whole training. Sometimes when I thought about the actual race, I would get really panicky and nervous. I think it’s just the overwhelming stress of running it for the first time. You don’t really know what to expect. And if you read my race recap, you know that I bawled like a baby at the finish!
- Aches and Pains – I started noticing that I’m achy when I get up in the mornings. During a couple of my training weeks, I had cramps really bad in my legs during the night, and I never get cramps. I also noticed that old injuries from years ago have started bothering me. These decided to show up when I started running more than 14 miles. The long runs on the weekends would irritate them, and then the ones during the week would keep them agitated. My knee (injury from college) swelled way This started during our 18 mile run, and the swelling has not gone away totally. After a long run, I can’t put a lot of pressure on it for the rest of the day, but after that, it feels much better. My ankles (sprained in high school and several times in college) have started hurting. One of them more than the other, and they feel really weak. I have had to start taping both of my ankles and wearing a brace on my knee. I never used to have to do this to run; I only used to have to tape my ankles for dance recitals. I just started wearing the compression sleeves last year when they thought I had a stress fracture. And, ironically enough, that’s the one injury that I was worried about going into this, and it didn’t give me any trouble. I kept thinking that my body would adjust to all of this, but it didn’t. One thing I will do differently next time will be to add in a lot more strength training. I think that could help all of these aches.
These were just some of the things that I have noticed that were different during this training than any other. And again, I’m not an expert. This is my first time training for a marathon, so it may be different next time. But, I wanted to share my honest experience from my first training. And, even if you’ve never experienced any of this, that’s okay. I know it could just be me and things I did when I wasn’t running, as far as not eating, sleeping, or strength training enough. I tried, but sometimes it’s impossible to fit it all in. Even though I did have these issues come up, they weren’t unbearable. They did affect me some, but not to the point where I had to quit training. I don’t want any of this to detour anyone from running a marathon. I worked hard during my training, and I’m proud of what I’ve done. And when I crossed that finish line, it was completely worth it!
Make sure you check out my race recap. I am pretty excited to have actually run a marathon!! 😉