I’ve got only one week to go before my first marathon – I can’t believe it. I’m finding it hard to think of anything else right now.
Having been in training for the last four months, I have been surprised by some of the strange things people have said to me. I will add the disclaimer that these comments all have been made by people that are “couch potatoes” who don’t know the pain of training. They also fall in the acquaintance rather than friend category – real friends have been much more supportive! Here are the things they’ve said along with what they would have heard back if they could read my mind…
- “How long is your race again?” Me: “26.2 miles.” “Oh, you’ll be fine (dismissive wave of hand).” This is insulting as it ignores all the hard work I have put in, the pain I have felt at times, the hours and hours of running that I forced myself to finish, the medical stuff I’ve had to figure out along the way, all the things I’ve given up recently to make time for training, need I go on? In fact, it implies a major non-accomplishment, which it’s not. So there.
- “Oh! I knew you did outdoors type stuff but I didn’t think you did…well…that….” This wasn’t so much about what the person said as the way they looked me up and down with a mix of horror and disbelief. Yep, thanks, I’m clearly more fit than I look but I really didn’t think I looked THAT unlike a marathon runner! Should I just enrol you on that course on tact now?
- “When is your race again? Can we have our group night out two days beforehand? What about the night afterwards? Why not?” Boring as it is, I’ve got to watch what I eat especially for the last few days before the race or I actually might not be able to finish it. And the night afterwards? Believe it or not, I’m still going to be feeling a bit rough then. (do you like my use of English understatement there?)
- “Oh, just have a little chocolate/cake/doughnut – it won’t hurt! No? I’ll just leave it here/save you a piece/bring some more in tomorrow.” Similar to the last point – just respect me when I say I don’t want to eat something! There’s nothing worse for my running than eating junk. So although I still eat it sometimes, it’s what *I’ve* planned to eat at the right times – please don’t throw me off course and ruin my running so you can feel better about the fact that you’re eating junk.
- “I know the Boston Marathon is 26.2 miles. How long is yours?” I can’t even think of what to say to this now…. let me just clarify, ALL MARATHONS ARE THE SAME LENGTH. That’s why they are measured so carefully and…oh, never mind.
If I’ve scared you and you’re now wondering what you SHOULD say to a first time marathoner, it’s actually pretty simple. You don’t need to know all the ins and outs of what they are doing, but just keep in mind that even if they already do lots of running, they are probably doing at least twice their normal training and will be physically tired or sore a lot of the time. They will have learned to do things they don’t want to do a lot of the time – so may not have as much tolerance for other people whining as they used to! They will also be scared about the actual race.
General support is always appreciated, and positive influences not involving food, drink or asking them to do anything else physical will definitely earn you brownie points! And if you get inspired and decide to do one yourself you will have a big supporter to convince you to keep going.
Do you have a hobby that other people don’t “get”?