I’ve joined the crazies…

I enjoying running. 

More specifically, I’m enjoying the feeling of pushing myself while I’m actually pushing myself. Over the years (beginning in graduate school) I’ve attempted to establish a running habit. I never enjoyed it, not even a little bit. My limit was typically 2 miles, any distance beyond that was crazy. I couldn’t understand why anyone wanted to run for hours. The marathon was for those with superhuman abilities, I never fantasized about completing one… #notagoal

Fast forward 20 years…

It seems that I am who I’ve always been while simultaneously becoming more of… myself 🧐🀯 

Currently, I train 5-6 days a week and look forward to the running sessions. I don’t’ love running, but I miss it when I don’t do it regularly. 

I didn’t try to like it or purposefully work on changing my attitude around running. Metamorphosis seems to be the appropriate word to describe why I feel the way I do. In the past, I had no concept of form or technique. I purchased inexpensive running shoes and did my best to become a runner.  I also subscribed to the notion that I’m not built like a runner so I won’t be able to enjoy it. As a result, I always felt clumsy and awkward.  

My negative mentality only reinforced what I thought to be true and helped to create arbitrary limits about my capabilities. For more than 20 years, those limits have done a great job in reducing what I believe is possible.

Metamorphosis in action

The Ironman is a series of very long events, 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of cycling, and 26.2 miles of running (a marathon). Oddly, when I decided that I would complete one I knew that a marathon was a part of the event, but I only saw it as part of a larger endeavor. I wasn’t intimidated by it.  When I signed up, I hadn’t run further than 4 miles….ever. I hadn’t ever imagined running 10K, much less a full marathon.  Yet, I knew that I’d complete the full Ironman. πŸ€·πŸΎβ€β™‚οΈ

My attitude was clearly lead by naivety and inexperience and bolstered by a sense of “I can do it if I want to”- level of self-confidence. After signing up to race the Ironman, I decided that I should complete at least one full marathon prior to the big triathlon. Having the experience of running (or walking) a marathon seemed valuable. So, in April I registered for the Houston marathon (January 2020).

I know people, both professional colleagues, and friends, who’ve run the Houston marathon. Some have run it once while others for 7 or 8 years in a row. Never, not even once, did I consider doing it. I was not interested. Never have been.  Even during the summer and fall as my training intensity began to increase, I didn’t give the marathon much thought. I knew it was there and that I was going to complete it. Perhaps I was too scared to face it.

Until recently, I didn’t consider running the whole distance as a possibility. I was content with the idea of running a bit and walking a bit. Others who are self-proclaimed “runners” and have completed multiple full and half marathons have told me about run-walk “systems” that they use to finish the race. Even they don’t plan to run the whole time. So, I blindly internalized their expectation because it fit comfortably into my existing limited view of my potential….remember the limiting view I created 20 years ago? It’s quietly informing my current view…

Time for a new view

About two months ago, while completing a run assessment with my trainer, Johnny (Third Coast Training) I casually brought up the Houston marathon and asked him if the plan was for me to run some then walk the rest? Without hesitation, or even looking up from his workstation, he said no, the plan is for you to run the whole thing. 

That was the end of the marathon conversation. The expectation was laid bare.

Sooooo, at that moment, I accepted that I could run the whole race. I was able to release the arbitrary mental constraints and internalize the idea of running-an-entire-marathon. WHOA! 

Since that day, I’ve approached each run with focus and purpose. I’ve also signed up for shorter races that would culminate in the marathon. First, a 5K, next I’ll run a 10K, finally, in mid-December, I’ll run a half-marathon.  My goals for each race are the same: (1) keep a pace that is sustainable but not easy; (2) focus on cadence; (3) practice breathing and awareness of my state throughout the run; (4) treat it as a training event, not a race and (5) hope for pain and discomfort so that I have to train my mind to keep pushing.