Monday, October 6, 2014

Never Say Never Especially as a Runner

Once upon a time, I was a dancer. 

I didn't start ballet at a super young age like many girls. I never touched a ballet barre until I was in the 5th grade actually. From the moment I walked into that ballet studio, I knew that's where I belonged. I never thought of myself as an athlete. Though now looking back, I realize just how athletic dance really is.

I started running merely for exercise and on a treadmill. I never wanted to run outside. That'd just be crazy talk. And running more than 5 miles? Oh that's just flat out insane. I did some 5Ks (hated them). I started to run a bit farther, then a bit more. I was always proud and impressed with myself, that I could do more than I imagined. Then ... Half marathon? Sure, I'll get wild and crazy and shoot for the moon.

I'll never run a full marathon. Never say never right? Oh, nope, not me, never really means never I said, over and over again. Six years after beginning my journey as a runner, I did what I swore I'd never do. I did that and more.

Last year, I actually decided to become a running coach when RRCA was having a course here in Little Rock. Me, the dancer, never the runner. I'm actually a certified Running Coach. Who'd have ever thunk that one? Running Coach AND signed up for my first full marathon? Yeah, never say that word, "never." It'll always come back to bite you in the butt I'm convinced.

As I've embarked on my own journey into marathon training, I know it'll help me as a coach as well. I'm determined to enjoy this process. I want to learn from it, grow from it. It's not easy. But is anything ever easy in life? Anything really and truly worthwhile?

I know I'm still just at the beginning. I've laid out my plan more loosely than I might for a client. But that also gives me so much insight as to how to tailor plans for clients as well. Some people really like the strict structure. I've learned that as much as I do like routing, when it comes to running, I want to love it always. Strict plans start to suck that love out of it for me. But everyone is different of course.


This last week was supposed to have been a back off week for me. And it was for the most part. I cut out one day of running and speed work. My long run was going to be 12-14 miles. But, we might be out of town next weekend. So, I decided to play my long run by feel.

I was feeling good. The temperatures were so much more manageable (hello 45 degrees). I started to re-think my plans and decided to go for 16-18, with 18 being the ultimate goal. I did 16 last weekend. You'd think that somehow adding "just" 2 more miles would be no big deal right? Lesson: after about 14 miles, 2 miles really feel like 5.

The run was really good until mile 14, then it started to be a struggle. I was going up hill and into the wind and had not paced myself very well. My body was tapping out. Or, maybe it was my mind tapping out. I got back to the house and then had that inner dialog/fight about finishing out 2 more miles.
You can do 2 freaking miles.
No I can't.
Yes you can.
I'm done.
Wimp.
Done.
There's the old Heather that would have been a) pissed that I didn't finish 18 or b) slogged it out and finished the 18 "just because." There's now the new and improved Heather that knows I did the smart thing  by stopping. I've set out a plan that has allowed for several back off weeks AND for any bad runs that I knew would happen.

I'm certain that any type of training ensures that you start to learn more about yourself. What has your training taught you?