The Second Time Around

When I decided to train for my first marathon back in late 2011, I wasn’t at all sure there would ever be a second one. I loved running; I’d run several half-marathons, and I’d been kicking around the idea of training for a full for a while. But running 26.2 miles seemed a little nuts — I’ll be honest: it still does! — and I wasn’t sure I’d like it enough to want to do it again.

I crossed the finish line of the Berlin Marathon in 2012 having accomplished exactly what I set out to do: I finished! I was a marathoner! I was about to go to Oktoberfest! A few weeks after coming home, though, I started feeling a little frustrated. I’d had a blast, but I knew I could run a better marathon.


But did I really want to?


Picking up my race packet. That's my "what-have-I-done?" face.

Picking up my race packet. That’s my “what-have-I-done?” face.

Going into my first training for 26.2, I had ignorance on my side. I didn’t know what running 16 or 18 or 20 miles would feel like. I didn’t know how long training would take — not just the running but all the other things (like cross training, and strength training, and foam rolling) that make up my version of a successful training plan. It was 16 weeks full of firsts, and that kept things exciting even when I was less than 100% sure I wanted to get out the door.


The second time around, though, there wouldn’t be that bright and shiny new-ness. Did I really want to go back to the weekends devoted to long runs, and the chafing, and the runger, and the early bedtimes and earlier wake-up calls? Did I really want the pain and the ice baths and the questionable toenails, all for a tough, mercurial race that might not go my way?


For a long time, the answer was no. So I focused on other things: I trained for half-marathon and 10K PRs. I competed in triathlons. I started doing yoga again.


But I was still keeping a Google doc of marathons I wanted to run. Someday. You know, just in case.


Late last year, a friend asked my opinion of a few marathons that she was thinking about running. I started researching, and as I was compiling my thoughts, I found my cursor suddenly hovering over the Register button.


Wait. What was I doing? Did I really want this? Was I ready for marathon #2?


I didn’t sign up that day, but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. And when I got the chance to become a San Francisco Marathon ambassador, well, my next move was clear.


My second marathon experience will be a lot different than my first. I flew across an ocean to run Berlin; I’ll start San Francisco just a few miles from home. Berlin was a course I knew little about; San Francisco covers the streets I run almost every weekend. I didn’t know anybody running Berlin except my husband; in San Francisco, I’ll run with dozens of my closest training partners (both local friends and virtual ones).


I’m hoping those differences will keep training for marathon #2 feeling fresh and fun — but I’m also going to be asking some of my multiple-marathoner friends for tips over the next several weeks as I start to think about what I want my training to look like. I’m sure I’ll keep some of my favorite parts of my first-marathon training (two 20+-milers, yoga) and change some things (I’m ready for speedwork this time!). I’m also wondering what’s kept you motivated to keep training the second time around. Whether it was your second 5K or your second 50-miler, what made you want to dive in and do it again?

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