But at the end of the day, no matter how much you think you know, things may not turn out anything like you thought they would.
Here are 10 completely normal things that could very likely happen during your first marathon.
Bathroom Issues1 of 11
Many runners have experienced bathroom issues during a run, but there are a few that seem to have steel stomachs, no matter what they eat or drink.
If you are one of those lucky runners with strong stomachs, be prepared for this to possibly change during a marathon. A rumbling tummy may pass...or it may not. It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between race day nerves and a truly upset stomach.
A worst-case scenario would include hiding behind a tree if a Porta Potty isn't in sight. But don't be too embarrassed—most runners have at least one bathroom horror story.
Blisters2 of 11
You bought moisture-wicking socks. You tested them out on every single long run with no issues. Yet somewhere around the double-digit mark you start to feel a hot spot coming on.
The reason for this unfortunate occurrence could be a variety of factors, but an important one to consider during the race is the road or terrain. Are you running on a road that is cambered or sloped? Are you consistently sticking to the same spot on that road? These could both cause your foot to slide to one side of your shoe and rub where it hasn't before.
Make sure to note the road conditions and vary your location on the road if you feel a blister coming on.
Black Toenails3 of 11
If you've never lost a toenail, consider yourself lucky. In the footwear industry, its common knowledge that if your shoes are too tight—or possibly too large—you can end up bruising your nail bed.
In a marathon, however, even shoes that fit perfectly can aggravate a toenail because the repetitive motion is likely lasting longer than even your longest training run.
Sometimes it's just inevitable to say goodbye to the little guy.
Footwear Pains4 of 11
You logged many miles in your favorite running shoes during training and you're sure they are the right pair for you. Why, then, do your feet feel like they may fall off by mile 24?
If you find yourself hating your shoes in the middle of a marathon, you aren't alone. It isn't that you made a poor shoe choice; it's that 26.2 miles is a long way to run—even in shoes you love. Resist the urge to toss said shoes in the trash immediately following the race.
Chafing5 of 11
Body Glide was created for a very specific reason: to prevent chafing from repeated rubbing. Thankfully, using it will help you avoid the excruciating pain that comes from showering after a marathon and having water hit the fresh, red blisters.
What's that you say? You've never chafed before? Prepare for the worst. Running a full marathon is a different beast than your long training runs.
Small Annoyances6 of 11
What is with that woman running with keys jingling in her pocket? Can she either speed up or slow down? What is that smell? Someone is breathing weird.
Resist the urge to flip out on a fellow runner. Minor annoyances can seem huge in the moment, but will pass just as soon as something else annoys you.
Unexpected Confidence7 of 11
Your legs are screaming, you want to quit and that's when it hits you.
You aren't going to quit because this pain is not going to be for nothing. You are going to get to that finish line even if it means you have to crawl there. A kick-butt play list may help push you through the inevitable low points.
Pregnancy-Like Cravings8 of 11
"Diet Coke? Why am I thinking about Diet Coke? I don't even drink soda."
Yep, completely normal. If you are slightly dehydrated, you may find yourself dreaming about any and all things liquid. If you are tired, you may find yourself dreaming about that big, juicy burger you would like to be eating right now, even if you are a vegetarian. This, too, shall pass.
Everything Hurts9 of 11
The finish line is approaching and you find yourself wondering why your arms hurt just as much as your legs do. Running a marathon will likely highlight any and all weaknesses within your body.
Lacking core strength? You may find your back hurting. Carrying your arms too high? You may find your shoulders or upper back hurting. It's normal and will go away. Just remind yourself that pain is temporary, pride is forever.
One and Done10 of 11
Don't be the least bit surprised if you start having an internal negotiation with yourself in the middle of the race. ("OK self, we can be done with marathons after this race, I promise.")
One and done is A-OK. The chances that you will get bit with the marathon bug are pretty high, but you might not realize it until you are a bit removed from your first 26.2. Never say never.
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