Life Lessons

As we creep ever closer to April 19th, I find that the cliches are true – I’m really learning a lot about myself through this crazy process, some of it very practical and physical, some of it more mental. This week seems to have been particularly illuminating. For one thing, I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that my body needs more rest than I would like to admit. Most of my close friends know that if I were allowed to make any basic life necessity optional, it would be sleep. Sleep is boring, and prevents me from doing the far more exciting things, like everything, that I would rather be doing. So I compensate for the fact that I MUST sleep by getting as little of it as possible, then pushing myself like an insane person when I’m awake. But several things happened this week in training that have made me at least try to reconcile myself to my body’s demands:
1. I ran 5 miles one evening, then 7 miles the next morning. And then, dear readers, I HURT. That 7 miles was a run of pure suffering, such as I quite literally have never felt before. It took nearly 2 hours to complete. Lesson learned? DON’T DO THAT.
2. I skipped a run. I had yet to do this in all of my training, and I felt really bad about it. I still feel a little bit guilty, but two things have alleviated that guilt. The first is that the reason I skipped – the weather was wretched, a borderline hurricane that made my house shake terrifyingly. A few friends DID run in it and agreed that my choice was sound. The second reason is that even after that extra day of rest my legs STILL hurt a bit after the back to back adventure.
3. Run/walk works! This week’s long run turned out be one of the best, and fastest, that I’ve ever done, and all because I finally submitted to the wisdom of our coach and walked some of it. (It was also only 15 miles as opposed to 18, but it was much faster than my original 15, so the point still stands.) Kelly, Nandi and I all ran together, and walked roughly 1 minute for every 9. I typically lose those ladies about 3 miles into any of these team runs, so to be able to keep pace with them was a big accomplishment for me! The one minute walks were just enough time to catch my breath, the biggest struggle for me when I run, and they also broke up the brisker pace often enough to keep it sustainable. Overall I think this approach is going to turn the marathon from a nearly impossibly daunting task into a very difficult but manageable one. My goal is to run and still be smiling at the end and I think it’s going to be a lot more achievable this way.

I’ve also learned this week how really lucky I am. I’m lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people who continually support this madness. I’m lucky (knock wood) not to have a had any serious illness or injury as I force my body to perform previously impossible tasks. I’m lucky to have had this opportunity to show myself what I can really do – this whole adventure has really given me a new confidence in my abilities, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. The truth is that this is really, really hard in ways that aren’t really the ones I expected – but I’m getting through it. I think it’s worthwhile to put yourself through something like this at least once in your life to get a better sense of yourself. Thanks to all of you for joining me through the process!


8 responses to “Life Lessons

  1. I think that you’ve been smart in everything that you’ve done so far. The walking was a good move. The only goal you have is to get to the end by any means necessary. If that means skipping one run because of weather or to avoid injury than so be it. You will be running across that finish line come April 19th and all the hard work you’re doing now will have paid off. Keep it up!

    • theredmenaceeats

      Thank you, Gary. I guess the biggest lesson, and it’s not even IN there, is that you have to do what works for your body. Some people would be fine with a back to back run. This is what’s working for me!

  2. Sleep is boring? I’m usually too unconscious to be bored.

    • theredmenaceeats

      I’m not a very good sleeper in general, so I’m NOT all that unconscious! But also, it prevents me from doing the stuff I WANT to do; thus, it is totally boring.

  3. i agree, nandi! sleep is borrrrrinnnngggg. a snoozefest, if you will. but i agree with gary– you are doing an admirable job, and i am proud to be running with you! thanks for keeping me on the run/walk straight and narrow.

    • theredmenaceeats

      Ha ha, snoozefest indeed, Nandi! Thank you for your kind words and for being MY running inspiration!

  4. I loved reading this. I am often frustrated at the amount of rest I need as opposed to other people, especially a lot of the bloggers I read who can race several days in a row and not get injured!
    As a result of being injury prone, I am a huge fan of run/walk and love how I recover so much better from a run when I do this.
    Its a tough process. I think that for all of my runs this month I felt like you did on your 7 miler. So many of them have been without any fun or joy at all, just slogging through. All of the comments on my blog post the other day REALLY helped though, which makes me remember how very important the whole mental aspect of this loooooooong, cold, gray training period is!
    It seems like you are doing great, so keep it up and make sure to rest enough! 🙂

    • theredmenaceeats

      Thank you, Meghan! I think with the sun finally out, perhaps some of our joy will return! Have you read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall? I just mentioned it in my new post and a central theme is the joy and togetherness of running!

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