Do you ever wonder if you might be training for a marathon? Every year, thousands of people find themselves in training and, unable to recognize the symptoms at the outset of the condition, unwittingly allow things to progress to a point of no return before seeking help. The worst part is that unlike many similar illnesses, the symptoms of marathon training are recognizable, and because they set in relatively quickly, training can be easily identified if you know what to look for.
1. Sore legs: training for a marathon generally entails increasing one’s weekly mileage. This, in turn, can lead to tired and sore muscles in the legs, particularly the quadriceps and calves. The hamstrings and glutes may also become sore or tired.
2. Fatigue: related to the increase in mileage discussed above; one will experience a discernible increase in one’s level of fatigue. Typically, the level will not become so high that it interferes with one’s daily functions or ability to stay awake, but may make one more susceptible to yawning, distraction, and, in some cases, forgetfulness.
3. Increased appetite: one should be aware that an increased food intake will be desired in order to sustain one’s activities and keep fatigue levels to a minimum.
4. Withdrawal from social commitments: one will begin to prioritize rest, particularly sleep, over time with friends and family. This is especially true in the evenings and on weekends.
5. Early wake-up calls: one will most likely find oneself rising earlier in the morning in order to accommodate one’s increased exercise load. In extreme cases, one may insist upon rising before the sun is up for the purpose of getting a training run in before the day’s commitments.
6. Increased interest in running-related matters: one may exhibit a tendency toward single-mindedness, and appear unaware of the fact that others are not interested in hearing stories about lost toenails, the best tasting gels, what one will wear on race day, and whether it’s better to hydrate with water or an electrolyte-enhanced beverage.
7. Weight gain: one may experience a slight increase in weight as a result of the body’s shifting metabolic rates and adjustment to a different caloric intake.
8. Increased napping: particularly on weekends, one may find oneself unable to complete simple tasks without a 3- to 4-hour long nap. The nap is, generally, preceded by a long run.
If any of the symptoms above apply to you, take heart! In 2009, there were an estimated 467,000 runners living with this condition, and many of them have been able to lead fulfilling lives. Although some minor lifestyle adjustments may be necessary at the outset, for most, marathon training can be incorporated into one’s routine with relative simplicity. Remember that you’re not alone, and that although some people may look at you like you’re crazy, others will respect and admire you for your courage and strength.