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How I’m Feeling 6 Months Out From My First Marathon

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint… literally

This September, I am running my first ever marathon. Every time I say this out loud, it doesn’t feel real. Running was my pandemic hobby of choice, but it quickly became something I enjoyed doing instead of just a 20-minute escape from being stuck inside my house when COVID was at its height. I am by no means a fast runner; most of my miles take me 10 to 12 minutes, depending on how far I’m going. While I do consider myself a runner, a marathon felt extremely out of my wheelhouse. 

I grew up in a marathon town. Some of my earliest memories are standing at the Boston Marathon starting line to watch the runners take off. My town even hosted a “mini marathon” for the local kids where we would race other children in our age group in laps around the high school track. While I always attended these “mini marathon” events, I never cared about the actual running aspect of them. I would run with my age group, but I was more interested in chatting with the kids in my lane than actually trying to win. Up until I was 19 years old, I felt this way. I would rather cheer on the sidelines than have to run. I liked to joke that I chose sports to play in high school based on which required the least amount of running. All of this to say, it blows my mind that I’m training to run a marathon this year.

Since I’m at the beginning of my marathon training journey, it hasn’t become too stressful yet. I’m still in the stage where I’m learning how to follow a running schedule, so everything feels new and exciting. This journey has already taught me a lot about self discipline. I’m used to running when I’m in the right mood and dictating how far I run. However, to make sure I’m ready and prepared on race day, I decided to follow a marathon training program. This means I have a pre-planned schedule for when to run how many miles and on what days I should do other workouts to get my body prepared for the big day. Some mornings, I wake up and have to drag myself to the gym to do my runs (since it’s still far too cold in Wisconsin for my liking to run outside). This has tested my dedication to myself and to my goals. No one is forcing me to run this marathon; it is one of the few things I’ve done completely for myself. Technically, I could give up any time if I wanted to. Those mornings I’m really struggling to go workout, I have to remember who I’m doing this for. Me. Every week I am showing up on these runs to prove to myself that I can accomplish those daunting tasks that seem so far out of my grasp.

One of my favorite things about my running journey at this current moment is the amount of consistency it brings to my life. I graduate from college in less than two months. I’ve been a student since my first day of preschool over 16 years ago. It’s a huge part of my identity that I’m about to lose. As of right now, I don’t know what my life will look like after graduation. I’m still in the midst of applying for jobs and figuring out exactly what I want to do with my degree or what I want my career trajectory to look like. Not having a plan is terrifying, especially since the majority of my friends already have their post-graduate plans figured out. I’m constantly being told “everything will work out in the end”, and while I know this is most likely true, the sentiment hasn’t felt very comforting recently. I hate the uncertainty of my life after graduating, but my solo running routine is something I know I can rely on. Having a goal to focus on is really beneficial for my mental health and something I know won’t change after I receive my undergraduate diploma.

The phrase “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” has never had more meaning to me than it does at this point in time. In the literal sense, I’m not expecting myself to be able to run this marathon tomorrow. I’m giving myself 6 months to really focus on this goal and slowly work my way up to being able to run 26.2 straight. I have no desire to break any records. Even if I end up walking part of it, just completing the marathon would be a huge accomplishment. It’s the commitment to myself that is more important to me than how I do on race day. In a more metaphorical sense, I don’t need to know exactly what career I want to have for the rest of my life. I’m entering a huge transition period in my life, and it’s expected that I won’t have everything figured out, even if I want to. Since I still have six months until I actually have to run the full marathon, it doesn’t feel as intimidating. This year, I get to accomplish goals I’ve only ever imagined myself doing. You don’t have to literally be running marathons for this quote to resonate with you, but to achieve bigger goals, it’s beneficial to take your time and enjoy the process as much as possible.

Bella Onsi

Wisconsin '23

I am a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison double majoring in Atmospheric & Oceanic Science, as well as Environmental Studies. Along with being a managing editor for Her Campus, I'm also the Vice President of the American Meteorological Society chapter on campus. I'm a huge fan of the New England Patriots, reading, iced coffee, and running.