It’s been just over a month since the marathon, and contrary to what more experienced marathoners have promised, I am not laboring under any kind of “runner’s amnesia.”
I am still quite adamantly opposed to running another 26.2 miles. Ever.
I guess it’s a case of “know thyself.”
And I know, quite certainly, that my marathon experience was a bucket list kind of thing.
But that’s not to say my experience didn’t lead to a big breakthrough.
I had lots of, what I thought were, weird and confused feelings about running a marathon. In some ways, I was probably overthinking the whole thing. But overthinking isn’t necessarily bad, and I finally got to the root of what has been bothering me.
I didn’t try hard enough.
I know that kind of sounds absurd. Ridiculous, even. I hauled my body over 26 miles over the duration of one morning. That’s pretty much the definition of hard work.
But when all was said and done, I felt kind of like the kid who spends all her time calculating the bare minimum grade she needs to score in order to earn a just-passing grade in her class, rather than buckling down and spending that time doing quality work and reaching her fullest potential.
I think back over the months and months of training. Oh, I logged my miles. Each and every one. But I didn’t push myself. I didn’t fight for them. I didn’t cross train and I didn’t bother trying to find my edge. Sure, there were some good runs in there, and even some great races, but those were happy accidents and not the result of me testing my limits.
I made excuses. I half-assed it. I plodded along in a comfort zone and shrugged off the idea of actively seeking out more. After all, I was marathon training. How much “more” could there be?
There is a safety in mediocrity. If you don’t try, you can’t fail. And, ironically, therein lies the failure.
When I started my new training cycle, after ZOOMA, I was hungry. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was missing, but I had promised myself that I was going to get serious about branching out in my training, adding in strength and not shying away from cross training. The change in routine sparked something deep inside me, and I found myself wanting to accomplish more than just the bare minimum.
Over the last month, I have sought out my discomfort zone. When my lungs start to burn, I breathe deeper and kick it up. If my legs feel tired, I focus on turning them over in a more efficient way instead of surrendering to an extended walk break. My 2:30/1:00 intervals have gotten old and so I changed to a 3:00/1:00 to test myself.
I am also mixing things up. I run alone. I run with my husband. I do boot camp. I lift dumbbells on the days I can’t force myself to get up before sunrise. I’ve just returned to bridge training. I have modified my perspective and the way I’m getting things done on the pavement.
I’m not going to lie. It’s been hard. It’s hurt. But the results are speaking for themselves. PR after PR. Faster times. Increased endurance.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt “accomplished” out there. The runner’s high has been eluding me for a while, but it’s back in a big way and I am holding on tight with both hands.
I am setting goals, and I’m not going to be afraid to speak them out loud. Before, I didn’t want to be accountable for missing my target times due to my own lack of motivation and laziness. Now, I think I can share what I’m aiming for and humbly take responsibility if I miss my mark.
It only took months of training and 26.2 miles to get to this point. Now that I’m here, I’m never turning back.
What has been your greatest running or fitness epiphany?
How do you make yourself uncomfortable to accomplish your goals?