10 Things I’m Afraid of as a New Marathon Runner

This week Fiona and I swapped blogs. On her blog you can find a post I wrote all about what you should be afraid of as a newbie marathoner. On my blog below, you can find her view, as a first time marathoner, on what she is afraid of.  You can find Fiona, aka Scallywag, at her blog Scallywag Sprints on her twitter account, or on her facebook page.

10 Things I’m Afraid of as a New Marathon Runner


Hey, I’m Fiona, also known as Scallywag. I’ve never raced a marathon before, and am signed up for my first in 2016. The marathon distance is a fearsome opponent, and whilst I intend for us to go head to head on May 29th, there are some things I’m very afraid of. This list starts with my tongue-in-cheek concerns and quickly veers off into dark and deep territory…


I’m afraid of:


Learning to run without music: I likely will take music to Liverpool, but I really think I should learn run without it. Firstly because for paced runs it’s good to focus on your footfall, breathing, and pace. Secondly because I feel I could really use it in the later stages of the race to provide a proper boost. That will only work if I don’t use it all the time. But I have almost never run without music. The few times I have it’s because I forgot to charge my iPod, or some eejit ‘borrowed’ it. I’m not sure who I am as a runner without Tay Tay Swiftie…


Eating the amount of food meant for a small city: I didn’t sign up to a marathon to lose any weight. I’m aware long, long distance running is hardly the technique for Biggest Loser-style transformations, and it definitely isn’t my focus. However I’m already heavy for a runner and I’d rather not be a stone heavier by race day. Additionally, for climbing I’d like to stay solid, or even go further towards the leaner side. I know after long runs, my brain will basically be speaking with the voice of the cookie monster. I need smart food choices that can be prepared fast after those runs. I fear trying to carry around the equivalent of a mini fridge on the day. That shit is for charitable people.


Losing my social life: This will happen. I mean, I’m a PhD student, it already has. But it will get worse. I’m quite nervous about the damage that this will do to my relationship. And all my friendships. And to even my work colleagues. There is only so many times that people can bear hearing the smug reply, “Sorry, I’m going a run at lunchtime”. All the early mornings to wake up the SO. All of the sneaking away from drinks early. To everyone- I am so sorry. I do love you really. I just really want to do this. 


The chafing, oh god the chafing: I’ve seen some pretty bad chafing after 3 mile runs. Unless I keep the Vaseline close at hand, I don’t dare think of what that could be like after 15 or 26. I fully expect many sports bras and shorts that I have trusted for years to start failing me entirely. I once wept in the shower after doing a two day canoe trip. The chafing around my neck from the lifejacket was on fire. I hope it isn’t like that. 


That I will go out too fast: Isn’t this the eternal worry? That despite my best intentions I will get caught up in the moment and fly through the crowds like wing-footed Hermes at the start, only to be kicked in the teeth by the mile 12 hill. I can’t afford to do this and I know I have a tendency to think I’m making up time I can slow on later. Much research and experience shows this is a shit plan. I’m going to be really tough with myself and force a plod for at least the first 5 miles. 


I’ll get the fuelling all wrong: At least going out too fast is entirely my fault, but fuelling is scarily unpredictable. I mean, yesterday I vomited for no fecking reason. On marathon day you have your dinner the night before, your breakfast, your gels/food, and your sports drink to worry about. I have been very sick in a race before from incorrect fuelling (Edinburgh half, it was very hot and I overdid it with the food and drinks). I didn’t enjoy the reverse-smoothie vomiting effect produced by the mix of tropical gels, lemon and lime nuun, and porridge. And it didn’t exactly do wonders for my time either. 


What if my training program is all wrong for me?: Aha, now we are onto the real fears of the trembling inner me… what if I have made the wrong choices? Choices that only trial and error will teach me are incorrect? I have chosen to follow a rough program that emphasises quality over vast mile quantity, in the hope that it will leave me uninjured. What if that is just too much hard running? Or if it is not enough miles and I will hit the wall hard at mile 22? I don’t actually know much about hitting the wall, but it’s hardly a friendly-sounding metaphor.


Injury: That right there is the scariest word of all. Every single twinge or tweak leaves me sweating and paranoid. I worry about sleeping on a leg funny, about having my legs crossed under my desk, about jumping off of the pavement. I stare at my scar and ponder my injury-strewn history, and it makes me cringe internally. What have I been doing wrong in the past? Am I sure I’m doing it correctly this time?  Will marathon training leave me not only unable to do a marathon, but unable to run anything?


And what if running stops being fun?: I can almost guarantee this will happen. Make yourself do something enough and you’ll end up hating it at times. I’m scared that somewhere deep in week 15 or so I will stop thinking that the training is worth it. I’m really enjoying loving running again, and I really want to keep focused on that feeling of pushing it, and of flying. 


Most of all, I’m scared that I wont be enough: As this great article by RedWineRunner says, “You WILL find out what you are made of… and you might not like it”. I’m worried I will not like who I am. I can be a whiner, a perfectionist, avoidant to the max. I can be very mentally weak in places, and am prone to sudden emotional collapse. I can be lax on stretching, and lazy on weekends, and procrastinate for things I don’t want to do by doing something else ‘essential’. And these are only the personality weaknesses that I’m AWARE of. Essentially I won’t find out until I am deep in training whether I am the kind of person who can do this, who can dedicate to this at all. 


So yes I’m scared, very scared. But I guess in 4 months 13 days 19 hours 17 minutes (at time of writing, not that I’m counting or anything…) we find out what I am made of. 


Want to follow along? You can find my blog here; my twitter @ScallywagSprint, or if you only want to look at pretty pictures my Instagram is also @ScallywagSprint.


Post written by Scallywag and published on RandRuns on 18/01/16


2 thoughts on “10 Things I’m Afraid of as a New Marathon Runner

  1. YES to the sleeping on one leg thing. I also get paranoid about my dog, who sleeps on my bed, and that he makes me curl up uncomfortably during the night and I wake up all creaky and achy.
    For the music thing, I force myself to have no music during the first 10 miles of a marathon. just to soak it all in and keep my pace in check. Then for the next 10 miles I’ll listen to a podcast (to again, keep my legs just ticking over and ignore the fact that I’ve gone so far but yet still so far away from finishing) and then the last 10k I put some really good tunes on and convince myself it’s just a 10k race that I’m a bit tired for. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all to run to music, but use it as a backup or something to look forward to rather than a crutch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. goalliedathletes

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Because of this common bond that we have as athletes, we’ve created a website that brings together former and current athletes and provides a supportive and non-judgmental space for individuals to share their athletic triumphs and struggles with one another (See the forums page and members and events page). We’d love to hear an account of how running has influenced you (anonymously if you would like). Thank you for your consideration! Margaret


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