Yesterday was one of those days we long for in New England. Snow on the ground, streets were mostly dry with some melting due to the temps being in the high 40’s low 50’s and the sun brilliantly shining. It was one of those days that says, “Take advantage of me, GET OUTSIDE AND RUN!!” So after letting it warm up, putting me starting at noon (which is okay by me) I was out, out in the fresh air (sorry treadmill), out stretching my legs, RUNNING!
It was slow! I felt like the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race. Now I know my slow is other peoples fast but for me it was strange. I kept telling myself we are going for distance here not speed. But yet every time Garmin chimed, I looked down and saw the pace and then the mental had to start again. “Slow and steady is the training. You will speed up in the marathon. Leggy’s need to stretch and get their distance in!” (Am I the only one who talks to themselves in 3rd person while I run or do anything for that matter?)
So on and on I plodded away at my favorite running place. Sinking in to a comfortable pace and just trying to listen to what my body wanted to do today. The sun felt great on my face and even gave me a little bit of tan between where my capri pants ended and my socks began. (Good thing I won’t be wearing shorts anytime soon because it does look a little odd) I don’t run with music anymore but sometimes think I should again so instead I found myself thinking and singing songs in my head. The song that went on and on for a little bit was “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way” (PS – that’s all I know of it so it was just going through my head over and over). Then of course there were some country songs going through the head to because I had just driven over to this place and that was what was on the radio.
As I got through the early miles, I had become okay with just doing this for distance. When I got to around mile 8, I felt great. I started thinking, this is my favorite mile. I even smiled and it made it feel better. I thought this is what running is about, this enjoyment right here! It carried on through miles 9 and 10 and I kept thinking, wow, I’m halfway done with my goal today, which was 20 miles.
Then the tires starting coming off, okay it was the mind taking over again and I couldn’t figure out how to shut down. I made it to mile 12 and then looked up, the hill! There was no way around it. I had to go up. I set myself up for it too. I had planned this. Why, because I’m crazy, oh and there are quite a few hills in the last part of my marathon so this was supposed to help me train. (I’m not sure I mentioned but this course I run for training seems to be nothing but hills which I hope will translate into being ready) Mentally, I decided, don’t look at your watch, just one foot in front of the other and do it. So on I went more plodding. Making it to the top in what seemed like hours but really was about 3 miles of reminding myself why I’m doing this and saying, it’s not really that bad (oh the things we tell ourselves).
There I was 15 miles in, took my last fuel and said, Yeah, only 5 more miles to go (another trick I tell myself, break it down into chunks and I’d already run 15 miles so what is 5 more!).
Fortunately I got to go down so it felt great, okay not great but doable, little slower than I wanted but doable. At mile 17 I got that side cramp, you know the one, the one your body says, “Walk” but your mind says “just breath you can do this”, then your body wins because after all it is the one who is doing the work. Not wanting to give in completely because again the goal is 20 miles not 17.5 or 18, you try the walk, jog method only to be beaten down by the body again, yelling this time because obviously you weren’t listening, “Stop, I’m done this is not a race this is training and I want to go home! Forget that it is a beautiful morning, forget that it is a beautiful day!”
So I listened (only after I pushed it to 18 miles) but I listened. I stopped, well I had to walk the half mile to my car after I stopped but I stopped. Then I began the beating myself up. You know the one, the one where you say, “Yeah you made it to 18 but you missed your goal!” I hate that talk. I tried what I tell all my clients to do, the reframing thing which would sound like this, “You just ran 18 miles on a beautiful day and enjoyed most of it! You just got outside and stretched your legs and completed the most miles you ever had in a week.” (I might have added, so shut up and suck it up buttercup right there at the end but it was my motivation talk and I think it is working today and it did work yesterday too.)
All of this to say we are hard on ourselves and I don’t just mean us runners, I mean us humans. The expectations we have are great because that is what keeps us moving forward and achieving new things. But how you move past disappointment really creates true character. I like to set another goal, rethink what I could have done differently (only to help me prepare better, not to beat myself up), look at the highlights within the adventure (loved miles 8-10), plan for another day and my word of the year, acceptance. I have to accept that this was the best I could do today and be glad that I got to do it!
One of my favorite slogans is “When you know better, you do better” and I think this really does apply to life. We make better choices with more knowledge. We speak to ourselves kinder if we realize we did the best we could today.
So my body wants to rest today due to being pushed beyond its limits yesterday and guess what, that is what it gets!