In terms of running, I am running my longest week of mileage before the marathon-- 40 miles in 4 days ( which will include a 20 mile run on Saturday morning). Technically, I'm supposed to do this next week, but I figured that Spring Break would definitely give me the time to actually fit in a 10 mile run during the week and mentally prepare to run 20 miles (CRAZY) on the weekend. Running has served a dual purpose for me this week-- it has been a giant step forward towards my goal, but more importantly it has given me a still, quiet place to think, reflect, mourn, and to breathe.
As I've had many miles to run already (20 miles so far-- only 20 more to go!), I've been thinking alot about what I've learned my journey of about 500 miles over the past year. Here's what I've come up with so far...
1.) Don't get ahead of yourself-
- For me, I can't think about the cumulative distance that I am about to run. Yes, I set long term goals-- like I want to run a marathon. However, when it comes to lacing up my running shoes I really try not to think about how far I am going to run and to embrace my experience wherever I am in the run. By doing this, I am able to listen to my body and focus and appreciate exactly where I am. I can always appreciate how far I've gone when I have completed the distance--- but if I think about the distance before I often get distracted and spend my run focusing on everything but the moment I'm in.
- I love to eat. I love to cook. The good news is that both these things can be reconciled into a runner's life. In fact, nutrition is essential in maximizing our performance as athletes. Sometimes I even get to eat while I'm running. It's really simple though, if you eat crap-- then your run will be crap. (I know this from experience-- and it's a hard lesson to learn- especially for those weekend long runs when making poor food or drink choices is easy on Friday or Saturday night) I can always tell an immediate difference how quickly I can settle into a run or conquer a new distance when I have done what I'm supposed to do in terms of nutrition. I think this is something I will continue to have to work on.
- I've said it before, but your shoes are really the biggest tool and ally should you decide that you want to be a runner. In a lifetime landmark, I officially wore out a pair of running shoes. I don't know that I have ever actually worn out ANY piece of sporting equipment to the point it had become obselete. A couple of weeks ago, I got to go shopping for new shoes. The sales lady looked at my old shoes and her comment was "Girlfriend, these shoes are DONE." I took a lot of pride in the fact that a pair of shoes I bought in OCTOBER were spent. ( The blue ones are old- green ones are new)
- When I started running, it was HARD. I often wanted to quit because I was hot; I couldn't breathe; and the whole running thing was not getting easier even after sticking with it for awhile. But I kept going-- mostly because of pride and the fact that I had already mentioned to some people that I wanted to do a half. After being a runner now for about a year, I have come to the following conclusions:
- The first mile is always hard because it is a about finding your rhythm.
- Even when the process becomes less stressful on your body, running isn't ever easy. I believe it is more about your body becoming accustomed to being challenged and accepting the challenge more willingly.
- Just like life-- there will be good days and bad. Some races will have perfect conditions and on other days you'll wonder why you signed up and PAID to do this.
- Since last July, I have raced a 5K, 8K, 10K, 15K, and 2 Half Marathons--- I trained with intention for each one of those races. I set PRs at every single one (granted this most likely has alot to do with the fact that I am a very inexperienced runner-- and started as a pretty slow runner). When I made my training calendars for the half marathon and now for my marathon, I experienced alot of self-doubt about how I was going to conquer each distance-- whether it was a training run or a long run on the weekend. But never fail, as each race approached I felt confident that I could complete each distance-- and I've yet to not be able to do something. Make time to plan ahead-- use a calendar or an app and celebrate each day that you cross of your list.
6) It's important to share your story---
- I've always been an introvert. One of my favorite things to tell people who think that I'm shy is that " I'm not shy--- I'm listening." I love hearing other people's stories, but I have always felt more comfortable listening to other people's stories or even telling other people's stories (History teacher here!) rather than sharing my own. I have read blogs, magazine articles, and entire books about running. This blog has been my outlet for sharing my journey. Alot of times I wonder who would want to listen or read as I blabber on about running, but then I get to look back at all the positive things people have told me about reading this blog or comments after seeing something about my runs on a facebook status. People have even told me that I inspire them. Sharing my story with other people has allowed me to grow my support team who have encouraged me; often at the perfect time. What I hope people get from reading this is that each of us have a story and that your story, your journey, is important. Thank you for sharing my journey with me!