I’ve been a marathoner for 16 days. That’s insane. I was chatting with some friends the other day and we couldn’t get over how it felt like it happened over a month ago. And how much we’ve changed in the past couple of months.
For me, change is always good. But it’s never easy. A lot of change has happened in the past 8 months. It was difficult. It made me question what I wanted, where I was going, what I was capable of, etc. But you make tough decisions because you have to. And if anyone out there is like me, you make decisions to protect yourself and the ones you love. In the past year I’ve become a post-graduate 9-5′er, moved into a new apartment, trained for the Chicago Marathon, and met some of the most amazing people through a tight-knit running community. It would be really easy for me to say that on top of all the other change happening in my life that training for the marathon was a breeze. That I enjoyed every minute of it. That I wanted to run 24/7 (well, sometimes I did). But all that would be a lie.
I found ways to make marathon training work for me because I knew the payoff was going to be much greater if I allowed myself to be flexible. In the past 2 weeks, I’ve thought to myself “how did I do that?”. I’ve probably logged into Garmin Connect about 20 times just to take a gander at the mileage I logged in the 3-4 months leading up to the marathon. For now, it’s still an out-of-body experience. It’s an unnerving feeling to be in awe of yourself. I guess that means I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, which is something that I don’t usually stop to think about in any part of my life. Some of the ridiculous things I’ve accomplished this year running-wise include:
- Completing my first 18-miler in Oklahoma where the temperature reached the high 90s even before 8:30 am. I was there surprising my twin sister with a weekend visit and knew I had to make 18 miles happen. I did.
- Running “to where the sidewalk ends” of the Lakeshore Trail on either end. And each time I reached the end the trail, I was both confused and amazed I had run that far
- Becoming a morning runner! I have never been a morning person, let alone wanted to get my body moving before 5:30 am. But that’s just what I did this year.
- Logging 888 miles from February to date. That’s a lot of miles. I wonder how many steps that is. Plus, it’s a pretty cool number too.
- Shedding my soft shell. I’ve got a thicker skin now, but I still wear my heart on my sleeve. I know now how I can count on. And who I can’t. From now on, I’m dedicating my time and energy to relationships that allow everyone involved to grow. (A true relationship requires reciprocation.)
Running a marathon will change you forever. The race isn’t the hard part—the training is. I’ve realized that there are a few reasons why I was able to get through the hard part:
I never ran more than 4 times per week.
Some people want/need to run 5-7 days a week in order to get the miles in or feel accomplished. I, however, am not one of these people. Every run had a purpose. And I gave myself time to recharge my batteries so that running stayed fun and challenging.
I had a great support system.
Sure, sometimes people didn’t understand why I needed to wake up at 5 or 6 am on a weekend to go running. But it didn’t matter because I had people in my life that saw that as totally legitimate and necessary. My training would have been much less exciting if Manny hadn’t told me to “go running and get it over with” or that I would feel better when I got back. It was true. Sometimes all it takes is a few people in your life to tell you that you CAN.
I connected with other runners & shared our experiences with one another.
I’ve absorbed so much information from other runners this year through Twitter and Dailymile. I’ve told people this before, but I probably wouldn’t have been as motivated if Dailymile didn’t exist. Instant cure for lack of motivation=Dailymile news feed. This method especially works in the morning when the last thing you want to do is get out of bed. But you think to yourself “if Sara B. can get out of bed at 4 am to go running, I sure as hell can get up now”. Truth.
I “checked out” when I needed to.
In June, I was already starting to feel burnt out. I’d been running 4 days a week since February and wanted to just chill. So I went on vacation. And didn’t run once. I had intentions of running. I even brought running clothes and shoes. But they went unused and I was so happy that was the case. I needed to sit by a pool all day, sleep, eat & drink. I came back from vacation ready to jump into a 16-week training plan. It was so worth it.
I had a system.
Once you find what works for you, you’ll know. And everyone’s system is different.