It’s here. Training season for my fifth marathon in the Windy City for October, week one. After taking a considerable amount of time off to give myself the mental and physical break that I needed to jump into the next 16 weeks of my life, the waiting is over and it all starts right here and now.
My goals for this training season are pretty simple. I want to be process-oriented and let my finishing goal take care of itself. I want to run a 4:00 marathon, but more than that, I want to run with confidence and surprise myself. I think I realized a few months ago that as much joy as I get from running and training for marathons, eventually I want something more from it. What am I running marathons for? Why am I running them? The process is exhausting, physically and emotionally. You have to come into contact with your fears, doubts, and insecurities and find a way to push past them. I feel like I have taken a lot of shortcuts, used a lot of excuses. Yes, I have run four successful marathons, but finishing the races and having them on my resume is not enough. What some people see is that I ran 26.2 miles, but what I see is that I have let myself give up in the moment too many times. It’s time for me to decide what I want from all of this, to see how far I really can go. No matter what my finishing time will be, I want to look back on my training season and know that I pushed myself when I didn’t think I could.
What does that mean in terms of training? It means:
- I will run what I know I can run. Instead, I will take the time to dig deep and be as honest with myself as I can about whether I can go faster or not. If I even have to think about it, the answer will be yes– I can push harder. Pushing harder doesn’t mean going faster; it means recommitting in the moment. Running faster will happen if I bring the same energy I started my run with– the point at which just getting out the door is the hardest part– to the moment when I want to give up.
- I will make every workout happen. Too often, I have decided to stay in bed instead of get up and get my run out of the way when I know I’ve got a busy day ahead of me and running might just be the first thing to go. No more. If I know that I might not be able to run that day, I will make time for it in the morning. If I can only run two miles, I will get up and run two miles. I will do something every single day and take rest days only when my training plan schedules them.
- Positive thinking at all times. Recently, I read about the power of positive thinking in sports excellence, and no– I am not talking about being Debbie Downers or Negative Nancy’s. I’m talking about not telling yourself what “not” to do and instead tell yourself what to do; telling your mind where to go. Instead of saying, “Don’t clench your shoulders,” I will say, “Relax your shoulders.” I’d love to be able to wake up on race day and instead of saying, “Don’t run over 5:00,” I want to say, “I will run a 4:00 marathon.”
- I will run the entire marathon. This seems like a “well, duh…” goal, but I have never actually run 26.2 miles. I have walked during at least one part of my past four marathons. That will change for Chicago. No, there’s nothing wrong with walking. But I want to run all 26.2 miles during a race that is important to me.
So, with all of that out there and on the Internet for my followers to see and hold me to account for, what am I feeling on day one of training? To be honest, I don’t feel prepared to jump into training. I woke up this morning and the back of my left leg was feeling stiff and tight because the entire day before, I walked around the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo for about 8 hours with my family wearing Sperry’s and now my leg feels stiff and cramped. My entire body feels like it got run over because I haven’t been to yoga in over a week from being in Washington, DC. I haven’t run over 15 miles in a week for about a month or two and my training schedule has me jumping into running 26 this week. And I am training for 16 weeks instead of my usual 18. I am scared of getting injured and missing yet another marathon. I’m afraid of having another awful training season that will make it hard for me to look at running in the face again.
But I do know that I want a Chicago Marathon finisher’s medal on my wall. I want my fifth marathon. I want to feel like a runner again and I want to take responsibility for what I put my body through so it can continue to amaze me. So yeah, I am not feeling prepared and I am feeling nervous, but I am also feeling like this could really be something if I just let it be something.
Chicago or bust….