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.
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?