Miami Marathon: T-5 Days. I have put in about 600 miles over the last few months. Weekly mileage has ranged between 30 to 45 miles. One would think I am ready, and feel confident in my abilities. After all, I have followed a plan. Granted there were a few modifications to the original plan, but that is part of the learning process. Some days when my legs were cramping, I decided to stop a couple miles short on my long run. I took a few days off with a cold.
My original plan did not provide much of a taper for the upcoming marathon, as it was just supposed to be a part of a larger 50k training plan. I think my body told me it needed a taper… For the last two weeks I have slowly reduced my weekly mileage so my muscles are fresh race-day. It could have likely been the case that I should have pushed the through the pain and got the training miles in. The only way I learn is through doing, and at this point, the doing is pretty much over. I will learn from what goes wrong.
Still I am full of doubt. Did I train enough? Am I strong enough physically? Am I mentally capable? I fear that I will cramp or get sick to my stomach early on, and have to walk most of the race.
Doubt is what got me into training to begin with. It started off with asking myself, “can I run a half marathon?” A few weeks into training, I thought to myself, “maybe you can’t do it, you just weren’t built for it.” I had to run a half marathon in training three times for the weeks leading up to my first race. The first time was to prove that I could, the second time to prove it wasn’t a fluke, and the third to ensure I was exhausted by the time race day came. I had no heart set finish time. My only goal was to run the race through without walking. I ran the half marathon to prove to myself that I could, and I didn’t walk.
When I heard of people running ultra marathons, it seemed crazy. How could someone run more than 26.2 miles and why would they want to? Running that distance is a combination of athletic ability, capacity to endure pain, mental focus, and a loose screw in the head. Like many runners I have met seeking to push distance, we all love to be called “crazy.”
Originally I looked at jogging as healthy, and a good way to fight off fat. Now I find myself less concerned with my outer appearance and more focused on learning what I am capable of. Without the doubt, I wouldn’t need to run. Doubt is one of the most significant motivating factors in pushing the distance.
I have a difficult goal, a plan to achieve it, and have put in the work. If I can apply this to running, there is no reason I cannot confidently apply successful goal attainment to other aspects of my life.
I find it difficult to see my running progress. This is because I am witnessing very small changes over short periods of time. If your friend sees you after six months and you have lost 20 lbs since you last saw them, the change is largely apparent. As the person losing the weight, you may lose a pound or so a week. You are looking in the mirror daily. This small incremental change isn’t as visible to you in the mirror as 20 lbs is to your visible to your friend.
When I first started running the Dunes of Heaven in the back of Jonathan Dickinson State Park, I had to walk every time. They killed me! Now, even if I go through the dunes after I am several miles in, I can always make it through without walking. This is definitive progress. I have completed 20 mile and 22 mile distances. (There was some walking, but people have told me its about “time on your feet,” vs. not walking as its better to walk and continue moving forward then to run until you can’t move and have to quit.)
Often, still, five to seven mile runs seem to be tiring. I question if these shorter runs have me breathing heavily, sore, and wanting to stop, how can I go the distance? Somehow I get through longer runs by putting one foot in front of the other and swinging my arms a little.
There is comfort in knowing that feelings while running come in waves. Experience has proven that most feeling will be fleeting. I can feel fatigued and in pain for a few minutes. Eventually and likely soon, I feel elated with endorphins and able to continue indefinitely. That feeling comes and passes, and I am be left saying “I don’t know how long I can continue.”
My best answer to myself when I ask if I can continue is “I am a machine.”
Have I trained enough? Will I be fast enough? Am I good enough? More will be revealed soon.