Much of the focus of my previous training blogs has been on my weekly long runs. This is understandable. After all, the point of training for a half marathon is to gradually increase one’s distance, and anyone who’s ever prepared for a race knows that the rewarding feeling that one gets after they successfully knock out their weekly long run and know that they are one step closer to their goal cannot adequately be described in words.
That said, success on long runs is simply unattainable if one doesn’t adhere to their training plan during the week. I had two really great training runs during the week, and I’d like to focus on one of them.
Why am I focusing on a 3.5 mile run even though I knocked out 6 brutal, windy miles in downtown Cleveland on Sunday?
I’m doing so because I want to encourage all of us—especially those of us during the half marathon—to keep following our training plans even though training could possibly be turning into a bit of a drag at this point in the midst of Cleveland’s impossibly long winter. Although running these shorter runs may not provide us with the same adrenaline rush that knocking out a new distance may provide, I’ve learned that these runs can teach me some very important lessons about running and be unexpectedly refreshing as well!
I’ve been a night owl for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my mom worked second shift as a nurse and I would often wait up for her while my grandpa (R.I.P.) would watch Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. In college, I’d stay up far into the night chatting away on AOL Instant Messenger, playing video games, and eventually working my way to my homework at about midnight. Married life has tamed my night owl tendencies a bit, and I don’t think I have done one all-nighter since we got married. However, neither one of us has a job that requires us to be at work unreasonably early, and we often find ourselves staying up late enjoying an episode of The Golden Girls that we’ve seen 100 times before while pretty much everyone else we know is asleep.
Unfortunately, my night owl tendencies make it very hard for me to fall asleep on the occasions on which I have to get up early in the morning. Aside from being unable to finish the half marathon, my biggest concern about the Cleveland Marathon is the early starting time. (As one of the world’s greatest procrastinators, I figure I’ll worry about that closer to May 20. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any tips!) I often have trouble sleeping when I know I have to wake up early, and this tendency often leads to sleepless nights.
Last Monday, I wound up going to bed very late prior to a Tuesday on which I needed to wake up very early. Predictably, I had a sleepless night and felt very groggy for most of the day. When the time came to sneak in a 3.5 mile run amidst a 12 hour workday, I was less than thrilled. My lack of inclination was also fueled by the fact that I would be running on an indoor track. While I am very grateful to have this track available for my use, I have found running on it to be a bit monotonous in recent weeks. (I am consistently amazed by my fellow Official Blogger Stephanie’s ability to run double-digit miles on a treadmill!) There’s just not much to see…
As I thought about taking a pass, I told myself, “If you don’t complete the half marathon, you’re going to regret days like this when you cut corners with your training and took the easy way out.” The mere thought of ending May 20th on a note of despair was enough to drive me onto the track.
The heat from the indoor pool adjacent to the track keeps the track pretty warm, and I had no problem warming up and getting started. I ran for approximately 30 minutes and felt absolutely fantastic. To the amusement of several of my students, my shirt was almost completely soaked in sweat by the time I was finished!
After taking a brief break to meet with one of my students, I felt so great that I returned for the track for another mile! As I ran, the thought that running one mile was an enormous accomplishment for me only 8 months ago ran through my head, and the fact that I am now able to run that distance like it is a mere jaunt around the block helped me realize how far I have come with my running.
We all started somewhere. Even the elite runners who will be at the front of the pack on May 20th had a day in their lives on which one mile was a daunting distance. Regardless of where you are on your running journey, don’t forget to take some time to look back and appreciate how far you’ve come. Allow yourself to celebrate your hard work and take pride in the fact that you are doing more now than you did at some point in your past. This may be easier to do for us new runners who can very vividly remember a time when we did not run, but in any case, I would encourage you to spend some time during your training focusing on what has gone right and what you’ve accomplished ever since the first day on which you laced up your sneakers and ran your first few squares of pavement. I’ve found that doing so helps me believe and trust that greater distances are yet to come because hard work over time has helped me reach a point at which I can easily conquer distances that were once impossible.
How do you celebrate the progress that you have made on your fitness journey?