Training For A Marathon vs. Running A Marathon

Training For a marathon running a marathon

In training, you listen to your body.

In competition, you tell your body to shut up.

-Rich Froning, Jr.

When writing first drafts of blog posts, I tend to use the phrases ‘running a marathon’ and ‘training for a marathon’ interchangeably. As if ‘marathoning’ is a single thing, regardless of where you are in the process.

This is a very bad habit I’m trying to break myself of.

Training for a marathon and running a marathon are most definitely not the same thing.

Not even close.

Training vs. Running

When drafting a post, I’ll be careless with my terms. I’ll be halfway through the draft before I stop and ask myself which situation I’m thinking of: the training for a marathon (the 18+ weeks of training runs) or the actual race itself (race day – the final 26.2 miles).

The posts Proper Mindset for Training for a Marathon and Proper Mindset for Running a Marathon are two very different posts.

Training For A Marathon

The hardest part of running a marathon isn’t running the marathon. It isn’t getting up on race day and running 26.2 miles.

The hardest part of running a marathon is training for a marathon.

  • Passing up social invites on Friday nights because you need to wake up early on Saturday for a long run.
  • Waking up earlier on Saturday morning than you do during the week because of said long runs.
  • Eating the same foods over and over because you know they agree with your stomach and will fuel your long run.
  • Using every trick in the book to get out the door on the days you don’t want to run.
  • Learning tricks to keep running on days when you really aren’t feeling it and want to quit mid-run.
  • Learning to listen to your body and rest on days when you really would rather run.
  • Chafing… well… everywhere.
  • Running mile after mile alone. No spectators. No aid stations. Just you, your thoughts and mile after mile after mile.
  • The constant cycle of testing and iterating what works for you and what doesn’t. Trying new foods and new gear, keeping what works, changing what doesn’t.
  • Having long runs with gear that really doesn’t work for you, but that you need to endure for that run.
  • Fighting self-doubt.
  • Questing your abilities and your sanity for wanting to put yourself through this.
  • Hitting that low point in training when the distances start to take over your life, but you know it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
  • Breaking open another pack of GU when you really don’t want another GU, because you need to stay fueled for this run.
  • Regularly wanting to throw in the towel on the whole thing, but knowing you can’t because you’ve come too far only to quit now.

READ MORELong Run As Dress Rehearsal

Training for a marathon is a never-ending cycle of running and recovering.

It requires you to keep showing up, even when (especially when) you really don’t want to.

It is a mental challenge as much as a physical one, and it’s a challenge you face every day for months.

Running A Marathon

But running a marathon?

Actually showing up on race day to run 26.2 miles?

That’s the cherry on top. The icing on the cake.

It isn’t easy (I’ll never say running a marathon is easy), but it is easier than the 18 weeks that came before it.

By the time marathon day rolls around, you’ve done the work.

You’ve run the miles. You’ve stretched and foam rolled. Consumed all sorts of pre-run and on-the-run food options so you know exactly what works for you. You’ve chafed previously unknown body parts and found the prevention measures that work best for you. You’ve tested and iterated everything so you know what to do, and you know what to avoid.

The hardest part is over.

You kept pushing through training so that when race day arrives, all (and I say ‘all’ with my tongue firm in cheek – everything is relative when talking marathon) all you have to do is show up and go on autopilot.

Your body knows exactly what to do.

You got this.

What about you? What do you think is the biggest difference between training for a marathon and running a marathon?


Training For a marathon running a marathon

One thought on “Training For A Marathon vs. Running A Marathon

  1. I’ve discovered the same thing. Arathon training can be so grueling but the actual race has the excitement level to keep you going even when you feel exhausted and so sore. I’ve completed two marathons so far but I’m going to need to get my IT band and periformis syndrome in check before doing any more marathons. This last one, the last 3 miles was pure agony because my right knee was so painful and felt like it was going to just seize up entirely.

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