Monday, March 10, 2014

Not Your Olympic Runner

Back in December I set out on a journey that has been… rough. I finally decided it was time to run towards my first full marathon. With proper training and a bunch of mental strength I knew I could do it. I bought all the right cold weather gear, found a solid training schedule and started reading any running book I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, winter in Atlanta had a different idea for me. Between ice storms, snow storms and an injury to my right knee and ankle, I had missed about 7 total weeks of training. Crushing, right? For someone who has never run a marathon, those training weeks are crucial. This past weekend I made the official decision to E-mail my race director and ask to be switched to the 13.1 distance instead of the Marathon. It was about five steps past devastating for me.

I never thought that running would become so important to me. That saying I wasn’t going to run 26.2 miles would leave me feeling so empty and sad. It’s true what “they” say – it’s about the journey. It’s been a rough one. Running in the blistering cold and wind. Missing out on activities with friends so I can run. All worth it. My friends and loved ones understood and always supported me when I’d be gone for 5 hours at a time. My thoughts were routinely about how I could do better and run faster.

Within those thoughts, however, I was continuously comparing myself to every other runner. My blood pressure would rise every time I saw someone posting about how they ran an “impromptu 5k” and has “never really ran before” yet somehow they ran it 4 minutes faster than my fastest 5k ever. WHAT. How is this even possible? What am I doing wrong? I would get so frustrated with myself and my body for, as I put it, “underperforming.” What I didn’t realize through all of this is that all athletes are different. Some athletes go to the Olympics, and some do not. I fall into the latter category. But that doesn’t make me any less of an athlete. I work hard. I do the best I can for my body. And eventually, I’ll get there.

Now that the pressure to be at the 26.2 level by April is off I can focus on the distance that I know I can handle. I have run many 13.1’s before and know that if I work hard I can make this a PR. Lemons into lemonade, right? I’m hunting for a marathon to complete at the end of the year so I can run through the heat of the summer and push myself to my top fitness tier. Ice be damned, I’ll run those 26.2 miles.

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