Does everyone suffer the last 6-8 miles of a marathon?

Here’s a question from an Academy member named Lyndi about the later miles of a marathon . . .

I have lots of questions following my marathon yesterday. Does everyone suffer (horribly) for the last 6-8 miles and it is just part of the experience or is there genuinely a way to train so that it doesn’t end that way? I suspect there may be an unspoken code of silence about how bad it really is and, like childbirth, we highlight the high moments and wink quietly about the rest. -Lyndi

My Answer

Great question! I think one of the reasons why the marathon remains a compelling challenge for many people is that it defies being fit into a neat little box. There are so many diverse factors that go into your marathon experience (from personal things like training, overall health, self-talk, pacing, fueling, the amount of marathons you’ve done/long run experience, and much more). Then there are the factors that we can’t control as much like course variables (width of roads, amount of participants, hills or other technical aspects), the weather, how your body is feeling that day, etc.

But it’s true that the last 6-10 miles of a marathon are often a huge test of willpower. There have been a few marathons where I’ve questioned my sanity, promised myself never to run another marathon, and felt very negative about the experience. While there have been other times when I was feeling great about those final miles, in less discomfort, and passing people left and right. I don’t think that there’s a magic formula to guarantee a great marathon experience. But each race does teach you more about yourself and help you be more prepared for future marathons (and other challenges in life).

One of the great things about having group support is that we can learn from the experience of others while keeping in mind that we’re an experiment of one. I hope that on this podcast we can delve into the good, bad and ugly about the marathon and present an honest perspective.

-Angie Spencer
Certified Running Coach, RN

This questions was featured in podcast episode #249

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