New Attitude About Running

In 2011, I ran my first marathon. Since I had previously labeled myself as a non-runner and never thought I could run 26.2 miles, I was so grateful and proud to be doing it. I knew that I was slow/average, but I didn’t care. My loose time goal was to finish in 4:15, and I came in at 4:21. I was happy and proud of myself — I didn’t care about those six minutes.

Finishing my first marathon. I was in shock that I actually did it.

Finishing my first marathon. I was in shock that I actually did it.

In 2012, I made my first attempt at running a sub 4-hour marathon (spoiler alert if you’re new to my blog: I am still chasing that goal). I no longer was happy just to finish; I had a specific goal in mind. I ended up missing the sub-4, but I finished in 4:03:23, an 18-minute PR. I was happy, but left wanting more.

Vancouver Marathon

For the last three years I have been chasing that sub-4, trying and failing numerous times. Success has been measured solely by finish times, and I have been frustrated by this plateau I can’t seem to break through. I’ve wasted so much energy comparing myself to other runners who seem to effortlessly run sub-4s and BQs. In short, I’ve felt like a loser and ashamed by my lack of progress. This is obviously not a fun way to approach running. 

As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t run much for several weeks after the Honeywagon Half Marathon. Because I lost so much fitness during this time, there was a big part of me that wanted to bag the Tunnel Marathon in September. I mean, if I’m just going to run another 4:xx marathon, what’s the point?

Unfortunately, Dad seemed pretty fired up about the race, which made quitting a little more difficult. So I thought a lot about it, researching training plans and examining my old training logs.

The one thing I kept coming back to was how much I enjoyed my first training cycle. There were times when I got sick of training and the sacrifices it required, but overall it was my happiest and most satisfying training cycle. So I asked myself: What was different about this training cycle? How could I emulate this in the future?

Here are the key changes I’m implementing to make this training cycle more like my first:

I will not compare myself to other runners. When I ran my first marathon, I only read one running blog. By the time I ran my third marathon in 2012, I probably read six or seven, and the list has continued to grow. I’ve fallen into the comparison trap so many times, and I need to stop. Every runner is different. We all have different natural abilities, unique life circumstances that affect how much we can train, etc. Comparing myself to anyone — regardless if they are faster or slower than I am — is just dumb. 

I will work hard, have fun, and not stress about the outcome. I had a time goal for my first marathon, but really its only purpose was to guide my training. Although I am training for a sub-4, I am also aware that this is a really ambitious goal given my current fitness level.

I will make running fit into my life, rather than make my life fit into a training plan. Making this decision was so liberating. The reality is that I don’t have a ton of free time during the work week. I have a husband, a full-time job, and a 40-minute commute each way. I also like to sleep, and 5 a.m. is the earliest I’m willing to wake up to run. I don’t need to feel guilty about this! I’m not an elite runner — running is a nice highlight in my life, but it isn’t a focal point.

What does this mean from a training perspective?

This means that I’m not following a training plan: I’m going totally rogue on this one. I used to love training plans, but I haven’t followed one all year, and it’s working for me right now. I love the freedom of doing what I want when I want.

Essentially, I’m doing what works for me and what makes me happy. I’m going to work hard, do my best, and see what happens on September 13. I usually am pretty burnt out by the time I get to the end of a training cycle, but I’m hoping these changes will help me enjoy the process more.

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Quick Update

Although I haven’t been writing about my running (or running a whole lot in general), I’ve been thinking a lot about my running.

Quick note about why I haven’t been running. Two weeks after the Mercer Island Half, I ran the Honeywagon Half Marathon and finished with a two-minute PR. I was super excited to finally make some progress and felt optimistic about tackling a fall marathon.

Honeywagon Half Marathon

Unfortunately, shortly after the race, I got super busy at work. I worked long days, and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice sleep for running. Also, at the end of a 12-hour day, the last thing I wanted to do was run. So I didn’t. On the weekends, I was tired and had commitments/things that took a lot of time (like buying a new car – yay!). I also got sick (I was sick on my 30th birthday – boo!), so that didn’t help. For about two months, my weekly mileage fell from 25 miles/week to about 6/week. Not exaggerating.

Which brings me to today, technically the second week of training for the Tunnel Lite Marathon. I feel out of shape, which isn’t awesome when I’m embarking on a new training cycle. Running a decent marathon in 15 weeks seems pretty impossible.

So should I quit?

A big part of me for the last month has said: Yes, Megan, quit. You can’t run a good marathon so what’s the point. 

What’s the point? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself for months, even when my running was going well. When you look at it rationally, marathon training seems pretty silly.

Well, here’s the point: It’s good for me to do hard things. And it’s also good for me to follow through and not quit even though I know I can’t be perfect. There are other points, of course, but these are the key ones for me right now.

In my decision to not quit, I’ve also thought a lot about how I want to train for this marathon. I’m pretty excited about how I’m approaching this training cycle, but I’ll save those rambling for another post.

Have a great weekend!