11 Stages Of Running Your First Marathon

This year I ran my very first marathon and it wasn’t just my legs that went through an epic journey – after finishing I was an emotional wreck. It’s quite possible that I experienced every possible emotion over that 26.2-mile course.

Every runner goes through their own personal struggle when tackling the marathon beast but there are some common stages we all go through.

#1 Excitement (start line)

Image By boxsterkidsj

You’re on the start line, the atmosphere is electric, there’s an excitement in the air.
You start second guessing yourself – “have I trained enough?”, “I wish I hadn’t skipped that long run”, “Do I need to pee again?”.
The gun goes and you’re off, soon the nerves disappear as you move with the crowd.

#2 Anxiety (6 miles in)

Image By manuel42k

Is my pace too quick, it feels too easy, I must be running too slow.

Around you, everyone seems to be stealing glances at their Garmins.

#3 Happy Face (13.1 miles in)

happy face
Image By fitbyhannas

If I’d been running a half marathon I’d be done by now, but since I’m doing a proper distance run I’m over half way.

Bring on the next 13.1 miles.

#4 Despair (16 miles in)

Image By andreabilly_

“What have I done? Why did I not just enter a half? I would have had my feet up and a cold beer in my hand by now!”

#5 Belly (18 miles in)

belly issues
Image By sofiaisabellebertilsson

At around 18 miles something interesting happens, you start thinking about your belly.

You’re not hungry – you’re just wondering if runners belly is going to hit.

Any slight belly cramp will see you desperately trying to spot the closest porta-loo

#6 The Wall (22 miles in)

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Image By nopainnogainrunning

“I just want to stop, I can’t possibly keep going – why does finishing matter so much?”

At mile 22 you’re drained both physically and emotionally. Your tank is empty and you start questioning how you can keep going.

#7 Second Wind (23 miles in)

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Image By top_runners

Just when you think you can’t possibly go on, you smash through the wall. From nowhere your body actually starts feeling slightly better.

3 miles left, you start breaking the distance down into manageable chunks. “3 miles is just the length of my recovery loop – I’ve totally got this”.

Is that a smile starting to form on your face

#8 Photo Face (26 miles in)

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Image By liannermartin

200 yards to go!

You’ll feel like death but desperately try to summon up enough energy to smile for the finish line photo so you can share it on social media after the race.

A finish line smile helps you forget the pain when you look back on your experience.

#9 Elation (26.2 miles in)

Image By gedia_ng

As you cross the line a wave of euphoria washes over you. For one brief moment, you forget the pain, the mental battle.

The realization sinks in, you’ve just completed your first marathon.

#10 Story Telling (+ 5 hours)

Image By dcatmull

Out at dinner than night, you delight in telling everyone (including the waitress) about how you’ve just conquered a marathon.

Order the biggest thing on the menu because you deserve it.

#11 Let’s Do It Again (+1 – 3 months)

Image By kittyverheijen

You’ve run your local 10K but it just didn’t feel right. The distance was too short and there wasn’t a mental battle.

A half just doesn’t seem like a challenge.

There’s no looking back now. You’re now hooked on marathon running – you find yourself trawling the internet looking for your next fix.

You’ve set yourself a time, now to beat it!