I was married on a Saturday in April which turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day on the eve of an Easter where it snowed in the morning in the Midwest. Nope, not that anniversary. Though, that is a great memory to have of a wedding day.
I ran my first half marathon last September on the last Saturday of the month. By then, I knew that my body could propel itself forward for 13.1 miles, but I was still tentative about doing it in a setting where I was being timed. This weekend, I’m running that race again. Except the 12 weeks before this race, I was in the program running as a mentor. I got to watch other people meet and even exceed their own expectations of themselves. Somewhere in there, I started training for a full marathon and I’m more than halfway through that training now.
So, I’m reflecting on the things I’ve learned as time has gone by and as I’ve experienced things myself and learned from listening to other people.
- Every run is not a race. While you are going to want to see how fast you can go or you just want to get it over with, slow runs are necessary for training. Learning to run slower requires discipline as well. Those people that say you recover more quickly from slower long runs…they’re actually right. Look up the way aerobic vs anaerobic works on the body in running. It’s really interesting if you’re into the science of running.
- What you look like isn’t as important as how you feel. I still have to remind myself of this. I’m self conscious. When I’m not thinking I look like I’m a sausage squashed into a casing, I’m thinking about what people think of the accessories I carry. Compression clothing is an amazing invention and I will wear it because it works wonders. It doesn’t actually matter what other people think. Besides, when I need a gel or a sip of water, I have it right there on my belt. Come at me, bro. I might offer to share and then you won’t need to question why I have a lot. I like to be prepared and I am resourceful.
- You’re only competing with yourself. Don’t let yourself take away the joy of completing such a difficult task by comparing yourself to others. Your first 13.1 (or any distance) is a PR (personal record). Set out to beat that when you’re out there. You might be somewhere in the pack where you see someone else you want to beat and that day will come, but worry about doing better than yourself and analyze how you can get better than you.
- Arm yourself with distractions. Is the run getting in your head? Count your foot falls. Count poles. Try to recall the most digits of Pi that you’ve ever recalled. Remember that poem you wrote in English class 15 years ago (geez, it’s been awhile since school). What are the lyrics to that song you love? Much of the battle in moving forward in distance running is mental and overcoming those obstacles will require you to distract yourself. Make sure you have some positive things to say to yourself or things that have nothing to do with running to think about. Remember to appreciate the little things.
- Running is fun! If you find yourself saying that you “have to” run, you need to think about changing what you do. I “get to” run 5 days a week. Nobody is forcing me to run 26.2 miles except for me and I don’t really have to do it. I get to do it. Each run is an opportunity to listen to music I love, talk to a running buddy, smell nature, see little woodland creatures (make chipmunks run away while I squeal “you’re so cute” at them), or just work things out in peace and pray. I get that time to run. YAY!
I hope that helps a little. It isn’t a complete list and I’m sure it isn’t all things that everyone can use. These are just things that I’ve learned through the experiences I’ve had over the last year in becoming an endurance athlete. That sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? Don’t forget it.
Are you preparing for a race? Do you have an anniversary race? Thank you for reading! I am really receptive to questions and requests for subject matters. Someone recently told me she read my blog and appreciates my honesty. I love hearing from readers!
Speaking of distractions, I saw this tree being highlighted by the sun and had to snap a shot of it.