7 Myths of Marathon Training Debunked

So you’re training for a marathon and are a wee bit nervous about all horrors you’ve heard about the training process. Is there any truth to these myths? I’m laying it all out there and answering your questions with the Seven Myths of Marathon Training.

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I heard people pee themselves.
I knew one guy whose nipples bleed all time.
You’re going to lose all of your toenails.

These are just a few of the comments I received when I told people I was training for a marathon. Why is it that some people try to scare you out of training? I paid my entrance fee, I booked my hotel and flight, and I’m already up to 15 training miles. I’m not giving up now – bloody nipples or not!

Fear not, my fit and focused friends, runners, and wannabe runners. Training for a marathon is not as ugly as some would lead you to believe.

I actually wrote this post about two years ago after completing my first marathon. Now that I have two more marathons under my belt, I wanted to look back and fact check myself. So let’s debunk so myths and chat facts, shall we?

MARATHON MYTH 1: YOU’RE GOING TO LOSE YOUR TOENAILS

STATUS: FALSE, WITH A TOUCH OF TRUTH

I still stand by this assessment, and I realize that it is a bit confusing. Let me explain. If your running shoes are a little too small, your toes (usually just your big toes) will jam against the front of your shoes when you run. This happens more often when running downhill or in the summer when your feet swell. The constant pounding of toe against shoe will cause the nail to bruise and potentially fall off. However, if you have good shoes (a.k.a have about a thumbprint’s worth of space between the end of the big toe and the front of the shoe, you should be fine. I never lost a toenail (or even got black toenails) from any shoe I’ve trained in. That said, I know people who swear they wear good shoes and still lose toenails. The good news, though, is that I have yet to meet a soul who has lost ALL of their toenails. So… no matter what, you’ll still have some! Winning.

MARATHON MYTH 2: YOUR NIPPLES WILL BLEED

STATUS: FALSE

This is another one I stand by. After 3 marathons, my nipples never produced the red juice. I have heard that this is more common for guys as their nipples rub and chafe against their shirts as they run. Women have the protection of sports bras, so this is less likely to happen. However, I never experienced bloody nipples nor have I seen any male at any race I have had the pleasure of running bleeding through his shirt in the nipple region. I also have never said nipple so many times in my life. Nipple.

MARATHON MYTH 3: TRAINING WILL TAKE OVER YOUR LIFE

STATUS: TRUE ONLY IF YOU LET IT.

Training for a marathon is a huge commitment. When I trained for my first marathon, it was all I could think about. I planned everything around long run days and found that it really cut into my free time. For my second and third marathons, I trained a lot smarter. I switched to a 3-day-a-week plan, and, better yet, I started meeting up with running friends during long runs. That way, I could still be social as I trained. Plus, running with a friend makes the runs a lot more fun!

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MARATHON MYTH 4: YOU CAN EAT WHATEVER YOU WANT

STATUS: FALSE

While it’s true that you can (and should) increase your calorie intake as you start running more, you shouldn’t take that as an opportunity to eat everything but the kitchen sink. Healthy nutrition is key to running (and health in general). You need more carbs, yes, but you need the right kind of carbs. I did a lot of research into what foods I should be eating (here are some tips!). What will give me energy vs. what will make me sluggish. When I ate well, my runs were MUCH better. My legs felt lighter and my time was faster.

MARATHON MYTH 5: YOU’LL PEE YOURSELF DURING THE RACE

STATUS: FALSE ONLY IF YOU WANT TO…

My original thought was that unless you are uber competitive and refuse to stop even when the Tinkle Fairy calls (Yes, I just said Tinkle Fairy. I also said nipples 500 times.), you most likely will not up and pee yourself during a race. Most races have port-a-potty’s, so if you feel the urge, just make a pit stop. However, I have since made a lot of running friends. While none of them are elite runners, they do train hard for their own PRs. I now completely understand that if you have busted your butt to hit a new time goal, you may be ok with peeing your pants to save yourself the precious seconds of stopping to pee. That said, on a not so pleasant note (stop reading now if you are easily grossed out), there was one woman at my first Walt Disney World Marathon that had pooped herself. I know this because I ran behind her for a stinky second before zooming around. I don’t know how this happened. I feel terribly that it did, but poop is a whole other level from pee. If I had to poop, I think I would rather sacrifice a PR than run with poopy pants for 10 miles.

MARATHON MYTH 6: YOU’LL CHAFE. A LOT.

STATUS: TRUE

All of my running clothes are very comfortable. It’s a mandate for me. Alas, no matter how comfy your clothes or how much Body Glide you use, you will get some chaffing. Most of my chaffing was minor, but it still hurt like a… well… I’ll spare you the profanity… but it hurt quite a bit in the shower. Just get yourself some good antibiotic cream or spray and you’ll heal up before your next long run where you’ll inevitably get more chaffing…

MARATHON MYTH 7: YOUR WHOLE BODY WILL BREAK OUT

STATUS: FALSE

I’ve never broken out from marathon training. If you are super sweaty and don’t shower after a run, I can’t help you – but if you aren’t prone to breakouts normally and you shower after a run, you should be A.OK.

I hope this helps elevate some worries about marathon training. There are some grievances, but overall it is an amazing feat and crossing that finish line is the best feeling in the world!

Happy sweating!

This post was originally published on FitfulFocus.com

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Fitful Focus
I'm Nicole, NASM CPT, runner, CrossFitter, and overall fitness fanatic on a mission to lead a healthy lifestyle, step outside my box and keep up with the hustle and bustle of NYC. Follow me as I explore new ways to get FIT, keep my tummy FULL of whole food goodness, and stay FOCUSed on living a happy, healthy life.