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?
Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom says
Awesome!! I’ve been in a rut since last April when I got hurt… it’s taking a while to get back, and I’m still not even committed. I realize that, I know my body needs rest, and I THINK I’m finally ready to get back into training. 26.2 is on my list in the next year!
Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom recently posted…That Time I (Accidentally) Stole a Child’s Shoes
Take it as it comes. It’s hard to get back out there, but if 26.2 is in your heart, go get it! Proud of you!
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home says
I felt like you did after my first marathon. I said never again. But as time passed, I felt like I had unfinished business. I knew I had another one in me, but one that I could be proud of. I approached my training differently this time around and it was epic.
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Treadmill survival skills
That’s awesome to hear.
I’m really surprised that I don’t have the “unfinished business” feeling for this one. I do for the GATE River Run next month, but the marathon… that’s something I feel I can let go. We shall see.
Stacie Seidman says
I totally get this! All of it!
I think your “I can do more” attitude is awesome! That said, I’m not sure you should look at your marathon training as not trying hard enough. You have to pick and choose your battles. Accomplishing 26.2 was a HUGE feat. I think it’s important to set attainable goals, accomplish them, and then set a harder one. It’s tough when it’s a one and done sort of situation because you don’t get to go back and accomplish the harder goal. Now I personally will NEVER run a full. Not on my list of things I need. So I’m not saying you need to go run another one with a faster goal.
My point is, don’t be hard on yourself about not trying hard enough for your first full marathon. I ran my first half the same way, my goal was to cross the finish line. But my second half? That goal was to beat my last time. And my third? Beat the time on my second. After those, I ran a few with not enough training and my goal was again to just cross the finish line. I don’t think it’s because I didn’t try hard enough, I did my best with the time constraints I had. But my goal for my next half? Get it back together and finish with a more respectable time than the last two.
So while I’m glad you’re empowered to do better, don’t discredit what you did! Keep on keeping on 🙂
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Do I think I can drag my body that distance again? Of course. One can do anything if they set their mind to it.
It’s the hours of training. The worrying about getting sick. The exhaustion. The isolation. The singular sense of focus. I just don’t WANT it again. And if you don’t want it? It’s not going to happen.
But that’s why there are so many distances and races. I have my eye on different goals of different lengths, and I’m good with that.
Stacie Seidman says
Oh you don’t have to sell me on not running 26.2 😉 I just want you to appreciate what you did! Stop selling yourself short.
Stacie Seidman recently posted…Thursday’s Threads
How awesome! I think I could write the exact post. I half-assed my training for the marathon as well. Before the shin splints, I was going to buckle down to meet my time goal for Gate River Run. I know that probably won’t happen now, but the minute I feel my body is healed I am going to do what you are doing. You are doing such a great job! I hope I can do the same.
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It’s really hard to push through all the static and do the things that we need to do to accomplish our goals. But, nothing good comes without some challenges, or at least that’s how I feel.
Focus on getting well. I don’t know the long term ramifications of shin splints (will they worsen or cause other issues if you run with them or are they just a painful inconvenience?), but do what you can, if you can, for GATE and go from there. I’m cheering you on!
THIS.is absolutely amazing. Thank you for being so open and honest!
I feel like every time I have a race coming up, I get to the realization that I have not been putting in the work that I probably should have. For me it’s an ongoing struggle but one I refuse to give up. I am always all about improvingand I’ll always keep trying!
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I think we can always try harder and do better. Wanting to improve is probably a condition of human nature - it's in complacency that we fail.
I think I did what I could do at that time for the marathon. I won't say I didn't work, because I did. I just didn't know what to expect and the anxiety and fear got in my way. But that's part of the process. Now, I feel like my body has gone to the limits of what it can (and should) do. I expect more from myself. I have seen that I can be better. So it would kind of be wrong to ignore that. Maybe. :)
April @ RunTheGreatWideSomewhere says
Great post! I am honestly not sure I’ll ever tackle the full marathon, I just can’t fathom the idea of twenty mile training runs! But I also have to face the fact that since this summer, I’ve been dialing it in on my workouts too. I have been doing just enough to finish my scheduled races but I know that I can (and want to!) really push myself to see what I can do. Good luck at Gate! I’m doing Asheville that weekend instead this year, but I’ll be back to tackle those bridges again next year for sure!
Asheville is supposed to be gorgeous! Have fun!
Summer is hard, especially in Florida. That heat can ruin any kind of motivation or momentum. But, identifying the problem is the start of solving it, and now that we know what we’re doing, we can get handle on it and push for better!