I’ve never given birth, but I was there in the room when both my kids were born, and saw what my wife went through those first few months after our infant son was home. Now, as many of you women know who have kids, there were many things friends, family, doctors and magazines seemed to gloss over, or leave out, when it came to giving birth and having a newborn in the house.
Before your child is born everyone tells you how wonderful and precious infants are, the pregnant glow, the bonding you’ll have with your baby, the funny faces and sounds he will make and all the happy-happy-joy-joy stuff. What they seem conveniently to forget to mention is how a good night’s sleep is never going to happen again in your lifetime, the top part of your body has been converted to a dairy factory, while the other parts of your body are now in desperate need of renovation — and there was no way you signed up for these drastic hormonal swings.
Kids are great. Having a family is wonderful. But having a newborn is not always pink cotton candy, rainbows and unicorns as many of us know.
And so, with some of you only a month or two away from embarking on your first ever marathon training plan for one of the fall marathons across the country, I thought I’d share with you some things you may not know about training for a marathon — think of this as a public service announcement for newbies.
Who needs toenails?
As you start logging in the miles, inevitably you’ll notice that your toenails will at best become discolored and at worst fall off completely. It’s sort of gross at first, but wear it as a badge of honor — you’re becoming a marathoner.
Chafing in places you didn’t know you had.
As you run a lot of miles skin rubs against skin and you will chafe. For men, nipples will bleed if you don’t put some sort of adhesive bandage over them. Under the arms and inner thighs will chafe badly, too. No fun to jump in the shower after a run and sting in places you didn’t know where even there. If you apply petroleum jelly or a product called BodyGlide in all of your nooks and crannies before you run then this problem will be averted.
Ladies, you need a good sports-bra.
Ladies, other than a good pair of running shoes, I would urge you to invest in a couple of sports-bras that will allow you comfort and support for three- to four-hour runs. Enough said.
Sleep is not over-rated.
If you are going to train for a marathon, you are going to need time to get some shut eye. While you need time to put in the miles, you also need time to recuperate after a run. Getting the proper amount of sleep will help in staving off colds or other illnesses.
Bodily functions and bathroom decorum.
If you go on runs in a running group for hours at a time, believe me, you’ll be caught downwind from some unsavory endurance energy extricating from the runners in front of you, from time-to-time. And even though it seems unfathomable to you now, I promise you that at one time or another you will be the one freeing yourself of trapped methane without a hint of remorse, but more of a snicker and a cute “oops, that was me.” sentiment. You may also find yourself in the middle of the desert far away from the nearest restroom and just have to go — so you’ll just go.
Ice baths are your best friend.
With all this mileage you’re putting on your body, you’d be silly not to start taking ice baths after those long runs. They are hard to get used to at first, but believe me, your body will thank you the next day.
Training for a 26.2 mile race is hard. Yes, it will be awesome and very rewarding when you cross that finish line this fall, but there is a lot of work, miles and occasional pain you will need to go through before you reach this goal.
It’s a great goal, just make sure you’re ready for it.
• David Allison has been a resident of Ahwatukee since 2005. He ran for the University of Pennsylvania, where his personal bests were 3:51 - 1,500m and 1:52 - 800m. He’s a USATF Masters Track & Field All-American and has a personal marathon best of 2:27. He is the owner/coach of Marathon Coaching Consultants and also a co-founder/coach of Phoenix Flyers Track Club, both in Ahwatukee. Send comments and question to David at firstname.lastname@example.org.