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50 Things I’ve Learned From Running 50 Marathons

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Hi! My name is Danielle—perhaps better known as the T-Rex Runner—and I’ve run 50 marathons (no more, no less). Every single one taught me something, but it wasn’t always a lesson I wanted to learn. Still, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly, but they’ve all made me who I am today.

Here’s what I learned running 50 marathons.

  1. In running and in life, the scariest part is waiting at the starting line! Once you take the first step, you’ll feel better and find your stride. (Georgia Marathon)
  2. If you insist on running with music, it’s a good idea to make really, really sure that your iPod is charged before race day. (RnR San Diego Marathon)
  3. Sometimes, a high-five from a good friend at the right time is enough to keep you going. (Baltimore Marathon)
  4. There’s boring part of every run and boring parts of life. Keep moving forward in both and the scenery will change soon enough. (Outer Banks Marathon)
  5. Pace yourself. You never know when you might need a little more energy than you expect. Make sure you have something left to give. (Dallas Marathon)
  6. If you have a chance to run a race on your birthday weekend, you should always take it. And wear a sign that says it’s your birthday. (Kiawah Island Marathon)
  7. Mantras are helpful. If you keep telling yourself that you’re fine, you’ll eventually start to believe it. (Jacksonville Bank Marathon)
  8. Sometimes, you have to stop and smell the roses (or take pictures with all of the Disney characters). (Disney Marathon)
  9. Helping a friend through a tough race is often more fulfilling than running a fast one on your own. (Callaway Gardens Marathon)
  10. When you have the chance to sing at the top of your lungs, always take it. (Mercedes Marathon)
  11. Some days will just not be your day. There’s always another chance to do better. (Myrtle Beach Marathon)
  12. Talk to the people around you in races and in life. You never know who you might meet or what you might learn that will change how you see everything. (Little Rock Marathon)
  13. There’s something special about the confidence that you get from a hometown race. Practice on the race course when you can! (Columbia Marathon)
  14. Everyone’s favorite race might end up being your least favorite. (Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon)
  15. It’s in your best interest not to run a marathon when you’re extremely sick. There will always be another race, but 26.2 miles is a really long way to run when you feel like you’re dying. Just let go of the registration fee and live to fight another day. (Knoxville Marathon)
  16. Seek out races that let you run through or past landmarks. There’s nothing like it! (Kentucky Derby Marathon)
  17. If you’re feeling bad on the course, see if a spectator will let you pet their dog. Dogs are always a good distraction. (Delaware Marathon)
  18. If it’s hot enough for a race to be cancelled, it’s not going to be any cooler at a nearby race that happens to still be on. Don’t be stubborn. (Med City Marathon)
  19. The smallest, weirdest races are usually the most fun. Seek them out and embrace the experience! (Hatfield McCoy Marathon)
  20. If you’re worried that you’re going to have a terrible race and want to take the pressure off, take a picture at every mile marker. The time will fly by! (1/2 Sauer, ½ Kraut Marathon)
  21. There’s nothing quite like having a family member cross the finish line with you, no matter how terrible your race might have been. (Missoula Marathon)
  22. Most races are fun. Some aren’t. That doesn’t make them any less meaningful, and in some ways, they are even more important because you find out what you’re made of. (Sioux Falls Marathon)
  23. Races are the best way I can think of to keep up with friends from all over the country. Pick a destination, find a race, and meet up to run it together! (New Hampshire Marathon)
  24. The way to make your new boyfriend like you is not to have him go to a double marathon weekend with you. Trust me. He’s still talking about it 4 years later. (Maine Marathon)
  25. There really is something magical about those big city races. They’re worth the hype. (Chicago Marathon)
  26. Running in the presence of people who put their lives on the line makes running seem very, very unimportant in the big scheme of things. (Marine Corps Marathon)
  27. The best thing about running marathons all over the country is that they take you to places you’d otherwise have no reason to go. And sometimes, you fall in love with those places. (Route 66 Marathon)
  28. It is possible to go from leading a race to coming in last all in one event. (Baton Rouge Beach Marathon)
  29. If you have the opportunity to be a source of encouragement for someone else, always take it. (Mississippi Blues Marathon)
  30. Celebrate every milestone, no matter how small they may seem. (Myrtle Beach Marathon)
  31. There’s no better feeling than a comeback. (Southern Indiana Classic Marathon)
  32. Running with a group makes everything more fun. Find your tribe! (Go! St. Louis Marathon)
  33. Dig deep, even when you think you can’t anymore. You never know who might benefit from it! (Wisconsin Marathon)
  34. Small cities that turn the entire race course into a party are the absolute best. There’s nothing like feeling the love from neighborhoods all over! (Kalamazoo Marathon)
  35. The most fun races can come from the most unexpected places. Be ready for anything! (Fargo Marathon)
  36. There is no better feeling than working really hard for something, perfectly executing your plan, and doing what you set out to achieve. Remember that feeling! (Vermont City Marathon)
  37. There’s nothing wrong with finding something you love and sticking to it, even if that means doing the same race year after year. Don’t apologize for what you enjoy. (Hatfield McCoy Marathon)
  38. If you are going to Alaska for any reason, bring bug spray. (Mayors Marathon)
  39. The sun is stronger at higher elevations. Remember this. (Aspen Valley Marathon)
  40. Running back and forth on one road might sound like hell, but life is what you make it. Have fun wherever you are and no matter what course life takes you on. (Great Cranberry Island 50k)
  41. The only time it is acceptable to take beer from strangers is during a tough marathon. Then, ALWAYS take it. (Omaha Marathon)
  42. It’s impossible to have a bad time when you’re running a race in another country, so if you find yourself lacking motivation, sign up for a destination race. Also, Irish Gatorade (Lucozade) is the stuff of legends. (Dublin Marathon)
  43. Sometimes, you’ve just got to take the jello shot, grin, and bear it. (Route 66 Marathon)
  44. Take in the beauty around you. Life’s too short to dwell on your circumstances and ignore the good stuff. (Sedona Marathon)
  45. Never, ever, ever take for granted the opportunity to do what you love. (Prairie Fire Marathon)
  46. Find the people who make you feel like you belong. They’re out there somewhere. (Route 66 Marathon)
  47. At some point, you may have to reevaluate if the goals you have set are still serving you. Things change. (Rehoboth Beach Marathon)
  48. You’re capable of more than you think, especially with a good friend by your side. (Casper Marathon)
  49. Be brave. Be thankful. (Spinx Marathon)
  50. Know when to say when, and go out with a bang. Everything in life has a season. (Route 66 Marathon)

50 marathons

What have you learned from your races?

T-Rex Runner

T-Rex Runner

Danielle Cemprola (formerly Hastings) chronicles her attempt to run a marathon in all 50 states at www.trexrunner.com. She's the co-founder of www.ramblen.co, which provides reviews of health and fitness resources for travelers. She is also an ambassador for Headsweats headwear. Interests include craft beer, sarcasm and travel.