Anyone who has trained for a marathon or ultra race understands the pain, joy, and emotion of long training runs.
I’ve been an athlete my entire life. I started with soccer and ballet at 4 years old. It turned into a 12 year long career in volleyball, years of track and field, and then after college trying out this ‘running thing’.
I take everything personal. I internalize a lot. Running helps me work through some stresses and issues that I have. It forces me to confront my thoughts and deal with things. But there’s something different that happens with the long runs.
I’ve never been much of a runner: volleyball, long jump, triple jump, high jump (catching the theme here?). My track coaches always took it easy on me because I could barely run the mile required as warm up during track season. I could never run the whole thing without stopping. “But you’re an athlete? You can’t run a mile?” No. I couldn’t.
There’s a lot of reasons I signed up for the 50k this year. I was mostly nervous for the long training runs, because that is when I tend to get down on myself, and my attitude can get pretty negative.
- You suck at running, why are you doing this to yourself
- You are never going to run 31 miles
- You are so slow, this is embarrassing
- Just quit, you’re not kidding anyone
Yup– all of those thoughts went through my head last weekend during my 20 mile training run. Calling it a run is kind of a joke at this point since I was spending a lot of time walking. But as any (kind) distance runner will point out: the training runs aren’t about speed. They’re about going the distance. While I know this is true, it doesn’t make it less frustrating sometimes.
I think though a lot about life during those 4 hour runs. My job, running a business, my friends, my [lack of] love life, the choices I need to make, what makes me happy, why the eff am I still running?!
There’s sort of the epiphany of emotions I go through on each of these runs. A bad run is like losing a volleyball game, or not making my distances in track. I take it hard. It hurts. You put your heart and soul into preparing, and training, and eating well, and doing #allthethings and when it doesn’t go as you had been visualizing it’s soul crushing. Ask any athlete and they’ll say the same thing. We pick ourselves up and try harder next time, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt sometimes.
I was talking to my coach about my frustrations and he jokes “you’ve gotta facetime me when you finish the 50k and you’re crying because you are hurting and happy, tired and proud” and it made me laugh and almost tear up. When you work on something that is important there’s emotions involved. When you spend hours thinking about life and working through things, there’s emotions involved.
At work the next day when I was hobbling down 12 flights of stairs for the fire drill nobody could believe I ran 20 miles. TWENTY MILES?! At once? “You were in a car, right?” “I don’t think I ran 20 miles this year so far!” Nobody gave a shit that it took me 30 minutes longer to run it than I was planning. Nobody even asked me how long it took… they were stuck on the 20 miles part.
It’s all about perspective. The ultra athlete would scoff at my 12 minute mile pace. The average person thinks I should see a shrink for my obvious insanity. My nephews I think I’m pretty awesome and some people will scoff that I’m just hurting my body.
My body is my temple. It’s a mantra I live by. The body will go until the mind tells it to stop. But since it is my temple I take care of it. I rest, I recover, I eat well, I hydrate, I show it love and appreciate for everything it goes through with me. God gave us one life and one body to live it in. It wasn’t made to be comfortable.
Mentally and Physically— You have to push it to the breaking point so you can come back stronger and better. I’m not afraid of being weak as long as I’m always the person who uses it as an opportunity to come back stronger.
I’ll see you on the 23 mile run this weekend 😉