Monday, November 4, 2013

Unexpected benefits to marathon training

When training for a marathon, there are certain benefits that most people think of:

  1. Weight loss. (ha!)
  2. Increase in stamina and physical endurance.
  3. Improvement in general fitness level.
  4. Build muscle.
  5. Increase in mental toughness.
I'm sure there are plenty more, but that's kind of what I expected when I started training for the Dopey Challenge. What I didn't expect was for this journey to totally change how I think about my body.

Now, if you really know me then you know that I've always struggled with my weight. And unfortunately, marathon training has not lead to a decrease on the scale. But I am no longer so focused with whatever numbers show up on the scale or what size clothes I'm wearing. Training has made me realize what my body was built for- movement- and how to best prepare for an awesome performance on race day. My body has become something so much more important to me than what I weigh and I'm taking better care of myself (in many areas!) as a result.

So what does that mean? For me, it means doing really simple, healthy behaviors that I have neglected for far too long. Here's what habits have changed and why:

  1. Drinking water- a lot of it. Why? To stay hydrated, especially during race week. I LOVE diet soda but have replaced much of what I used to drink with water. 
  2. Taking a daily vitamin or Emergen-C. Why? To keep myself as strong as possible to fight potential infections. Running is not fun when you've got a cold or something worse. 
  3. Flossing more regularly. Why? See above- I want to minimize my risk for any type of infection. 
  4. Eating balanced meals. Why? To feel awesome before, during, and after a run/race. It's amazing what proper nutrition can do!
  5. Sleeping at least seven hours each night. Why? Getting enough sleep helps me feel energized and rested after a long week of running.
What's even more surprising is that I came to all picking up these habits on my own, out of a genuine desire to stay healthy through training and the racing season. It didn't require a doctor breathing down my neck about what I should or should not be doing. I've made improvements to my health because I wanted to for me. And not to improve my weight or how I looked, but to be strong and healthy and fit. My goal for all future races? Finish upright, smiling, and stronger for the next one :-)

What's the biggest change you've noticed since you started training?


  1. I used to wear high heels every day. When I started training for my first marathon, I stepped down to just give my feet a break and really didn't miss them. Now that I'm teaching and working on my feet all day, they're not practical anyway. It was an odd side effect of marathon training, but when I finally got around to cleaning out my closet of all the shoes I no longer wore, it really cemented just how much running had changed my life in areas I'd never expected.

    1. Wow! That is quite a change! I stopped wearing heels last spring when I developed plantar fasciitis. I don't miss them either :-)