Journey to 26.2, Part 1: Beginning Again

I attempted yet another half marathon this past weekend despite the fact that I’ve been injured for over a year, and it really didn’t go well.  Duh. I plan to write the race recap, of course, but wanted to write this first in an attempt to ease my mind… to be completely and totally honest, I haven’t been running much at all lately. I ran a bit prior to the Nike half and that race went really well (not speedy well, just hey-I-don’t-feel-like-imminent-death-this-time-woo-hoo kinda well) so why I seem to think I can race and expect a positive outcome while NOT training at all and eating ALL my kids’ Halloween candy is a certifiable mystery to me. I’m crazy like that.

I pushed and pushed to cross the finish of the half last Saturday, and as soon as I was done, puked about 5 times, much to my husband’s dismay. After I recovered, we headed out for my traditional post-race-burger-and-beer and chatted about the race, the course, and I complained about my sundry issues- that list seemingly 13 miles long itself… Hubby asked, “Why do you do this to yourself? I know you love running but why do you suffer so much? I just want to protect you and make sure you aren’t in pain but you just keep punishing yourself! Why???”

That’s a stupid question, I thought. Running is hard and I don’t expect every race to go perfectly, especially when I’m not prepared. I’ve always believed that the ultimate goal of training IS discomfort, you’ve got to push yourself past what you are able to do in order to get better, no one improves in the comfort zone… but then I remember that time- oh so long ago- when running was easy for me, training was a joy, PRs were a plenty, long runs were something I looked forward to and upon completion, would give myself a big pat on the back, proud of my accomplishments. Now, it’s more like, “Well, let’s get this fricking thing over with!”

That tells me it’s time to press the re-set button. I’m going back to square one. I need to re-teach myself all the basic mechanics of running in order to start doing it the RIGHT way again. Get back to the roots of why I started running in the first place and get my body and mind ready to accomplish the goal I wasn’t able to complete through this past year-of-injuries: crossing the finish line of my third 26.2. 

I didn’t tell hubby I thought his questions were stupid, instead, I answered, “Because I’m never giving up.” And he had to agree with that.

It may seem strange to go from injury to marathon but I’ve found that muscle memory is alive and well in my little legs. When I’m running well (that’s usually the first 3 miles) I’m happy, invigorated, and absolutely in love with running.  When my body starts to break down (anywhere from mile 3-13), my mind goes with it and I start to feel sorry for myself, my injuries, and basically give up and start walking- if I can’t actually do well, what’s the point of even trying?

I tend to be a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak. I’m not very spontaneous, I like knowing what to expect and am the type of person that will plan things down the very last minute, the very last detail. In raising my kids, I tell them to always have a plan yet expect setbacks, it is okay to make mistakes, you’re just learning, but above all you must try your hardest. Failure is okay, struggling is okay as long as you’re always learning.

I see myself as a total failure right now when it comes to running and I’m officially done making the same mistakes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “just finishing” isn’t good enough for me anymore. Through no fault of my own, through fault of these injuries I couldn’t really prevent, I have been unable to train and run the right way and in the face of failure I’m still more than determined, motivated, and inspired to turn this all around, start from scratch again, and accomplish my ultimate marathon goal.

The most important thing I’ve learned from my running mistakes is that somewhere along the way, I stopped believing in myself, I’ve taken running for granted and now, it’s time to shed all that, re-focus, and simply try harder. I am NOT my injuries.

When I started running in 2009, it all started with the 5K, I wanted to master those 3 little miles. I pledged to stick with the 5K until it was “easy” and it took me 6 months of 5Ks before I stepped it up to 10Ks, then a whole year of 10Ks until I attempted my first half.  Then one more year of halfs until I attempted my very first full. That was smart. That approach kept me engaged in the distance I wanted to accomplish and not necessarily pushing for more, more, more miles just for the sake of mileage- I felt confident in each distance and crossed every finish line victoriously and without regret… until this year…

I’m actually pretty eager to begin again. Not only is that a great excuse to go out and buy a new pair of running shoes but I also feel very assured that baby steps will behoove my still-healing injuries and within the small successes, I will find my pride and passion again. It’s out there, on the road, just 3 miles away…

I’ve got my 26.2 sights set on the San Luis Obispo marathon next April and as an ambassador for the race, I’ve got a built in support crew and a lot of friends joining me for my victory run through the beautiful central coast. I know I can do it, I know I will accomplish my goals, and I know I have what it takes to do the work, shed those failures, and be a successful runner again.

I WILL be there!!!

I WILL be there!!! Will you join me???

How about you?  Have you ever felt like you needed to take a step back from running in order to re-learn the sport? How do you ramp back up after injury? Does setting a race or time goal keep you focused and working?  How do you handle a less-than-successful-oh-I-may-die-today kind of failed race?

8 thoughts on “Journey to 26.2, Part 1: Beginning Again

  1. sganeeban

    Running is not for the faint of heart. It’s almost obsession, but a healthy one…so it’s okay, right? Excited to be a fellow ambassador with you (and meet you too) and follow your journey until race day! Hopefully the re-set does some good for you and I’ll see you smiling and running happy in SLO! xoxo, ganeeban

    1. Laura Post author

      Hey fellow ambassador! 😀 Thanks for reading and for the support, I’m really excited about SLO and am gunning for that full!!! WE GOT THIS!!!

  2. ErinAMG

    ahhhh so much good stuff here, Laura. my biggest ‘reset’ time came after I had my daughter. I ran up until about week 36 of a 41-week pregnancy, took the obligatory 6 weeks off postpartum, and then basically started from scratch with zero expectations. for a while, my biggest accomplishments were getting through a run without feeling like my uterus was gonna fall out between my legs or that my breastmilk-heavy boobs weren’t gonna knock me in the face. at the time, I vividly remember texting my (super duper fast) training buddies, totally delighted when I could run a mile… then two miles… then three miles… etc. at paces that were soooooooooooo far off from the usual paces before, and surprisingly, I didn’t have any of the expected ‘woe is me i’m so slow now wah wah wah’ feelings that I figured I’d have. instead, it was a new day, a clean slate. and the crazy thing, the best thing to this story, is that postpartum, I’ve shattered all of my PRs….and I totally think it began from those initial hazy postpartum runs. it’s crazy and something that I never thought I’d be able to do.

    I’m totally blabbering about myself (sorry!) but this is why… when I read your story, I totally get it. the nice thing though with running is that it’s always there. always. your past is in your past, and the nice thing is that your past (injuries, mental breakdowns mid-race… we’ve all been there) doesn’t determine your future or your future successes. promise. I think you’re coming into your SLO training with your head and heart in a really good place, and honestly, I think those are the two most important components to solid marathon training…. along w some durable legs 😉 you’re being smart right now with your planning and long-term approach, and that, my friend, is what will ensure that you will always be able to run until the day you drop. 🙂

    ANYWAY. so stoked to be sharing this SLO marathon training journey with ya, and totally looking forward to seeing you kick some bootay. cheers mama xo

    1. Laura Post author

      Aww, Erin, thank you for your thoughtful response- I cried reading it! You are certainly an inspiration and hearing that you’ve been there too means worlds to me! It sure is hard to overcome an entire year of setbacks, but you are right- toDAY is the day, I can’t change what’s happened, I can’t take back a slow time or a miserable race but I can certainly learn to let go and just keep on trying. Progress is slow and I’m impatient but I really have to baby my running if- as you say- I want to be able to run until the day I drop. And oh I do! 😉

      See you out there- SLO and Napa, here we come!!!

  3. Erica @ Abbie and Erica's Aventures

    I love a good re-set button! It is magically for the mind and body. I think it is neccessary as we grow as runners/athletes to re-think the ways we train and workout. If we keep the same mind set each time, train the same way each time, we won’t progress. I’ve taken breaks for injuries and to pursue professional goals and each time getting back at it has been difficult, but having an open heart and mind helps in achieving those ever loving goals. This training season I took a whole new approach and had some pretty great results – you just gotta be KIND to yourself through the process. Because if change and goals were easy, every one would do them right?! You’re one tough cookie and I have no doubt you will bring great things in 2015! Can’t wait to run with you again! xo

    1. Laura Post author

      I’ve been fairly stubborn about pressing that re-set button but I guess I gotta be honest with myself and re-think my plan, I totally agree with you. And yes, being kind to myself is tough for me- you know me too well! I tend to beat myself up for these assumed “failures” but I’m not sure who’s standards I’m trying to achieve! Time to be realistic… I GUESS. 😉 Me + You = Run/Brunch Soon #BRF

    2. Dina

      What great advice. I posted earlier about having going through the same transitions. I thought it was old age (42) since I could feel my body change during this down time. I’m definitely slower and stiffer. I was always trying to keep up with my running friends who didn’t have busy lives with a job and children. They had time to train and do well while as the demands of my family increased my pace and mileage proportionately decreased. This is concept of a reset is great and humbling. I thought it was ridiculous for me to go back to 10ks and marathons when I had surpassed those milestones. I guess running doesn’t work like that. It is about mind and soul. Starting shouldnt be taken as a bad thing but something liberating. New experiences lie ahead.

  4. Dina

    Your blog hit home for me. I started running to loose weight and found it to be even more effective as a coping mechanism in life. I had many reasons to need to feel strong and running gave me that confidence. I progressed from 5ks to 100 mile runs each time growing and hungering for more. I wanted to constantly find out what I was made of. I had good runs and there were definitely bad ones yet I grew inside and felt empowered. After my second 100 mi something happened. The drive was gone or going. My training for the third 100 was work because I had to force myself. I knew when I toed the start line I wasn’t going to make it. No heart. I couldn’t figure out what happened. I battle depression and without running I’m a mess. It’s been 2 years now where I haven’t ran the long miles and I miss the mountains. I picked up Crossfit to change things up and it has helped keep me in shape but it’s not the same. I want to love running like I did. I want to be excited about it again. Maybe I just have to ride out this lull out. Great post. It’s good to know other runners go through the same thing.


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