Running is a grueling process. It’s something that I started at a very young age, so for me it has just become a natural part of my being. However, I can’t say that every run I go on is easy and wonderful, and making me wish I had a few more miles to go.
I have run 3 marathons, and 4 half-marathons. I have oddly enough, decided that the full marathon was more of my niche. My body has an easier time getting into a set paced rhythm and just going with it. Genetics? Perhaps. Part of me believes I have a component of that. But the other part of me knows that there is a lot of hard work that goes with it as well.
I ran my first marathon with minimal training, due to peer pressure influences. My second marathon came out of my over-zealous excitement from my first marathon and followed suit of the no training. In fact my second marathon weekly mileage was worse than my first marathon. My marathon was higher than my weekly mileage, if that says anything. My third marathon I took seriously. I trained hard, and the constant improving paces on my runs showed that. However, I made an unfortunate mistake during the marathon and decided to run with someone who had a water belt, aka no water stops at the aid stations. Further, I had never tried gu’s or gels and so I literally had no fuel for the entire marathon. I survived until mile 20, before my pace began to change. By mile 22 I about had it. I had to walk. I stopped at the water station and gulped down sports drink in a matter of seconds. I continued to jog/walk the last 4 miles and eventually crossed the finish line. Phew. That one was rough. But, because of the great amount of work I put into the majority of the race, I only finished 2 minutes slower than the previous year when I ran my very first marathon.
Due to two injuries relating to my anatomical structure, I have been sidelined from running full marathons for the past 5 years. Coming back from each injury was very difficult. Getting back into shape was indescribable. I hadn’t experienced that feeling in years. I made an end goal, and stuck to it. I am now back on board, and have been successfully returned to consistent running for 7 months. As these years have progressed, I have found several keys to success.
- Keeping a running log is highly motivating. It is exciting to see the progress you make monthly, weekly, daily.
- Speed work does not have to entail the track. College running burned out my desire to do track speed workouts. Instead I do workouts on the road that allow me to ease into things.
- Confidence. I struggled in college cross country, because mentally I stressed myself out so much. I have now realized that running is not about worrying about your other competition. It is about you. If the work has been put in, and you have at least made an effort, then you tried your best. On race day, or workout day, what happens, happens. I run for enjoyment, not to constantly worry about beating opponents or my own times. Of course, if I am able to score a PR, I am delighted.
- Mental Efforts. As mentioned above, I am a huge mental case. When standing on the start line, I look back at the work I put into the race. I realize that I did all I could do and I go into the race with a positive attitude. I try to enjoy the process as much as possible, and when things may not always go my way, I try not to fret about them. I just dig a little deeper and put forth the best effort I am able to.
Running certainly takes dedication. I enjoy the exhilarating feeling when I am in shape, and feel that I can go for miles and miles. I enjoy getting PR’s. I enjoy the challenges of a hard run when things don’t go my way, because it puts me back in my place. I enjoy the thrill of a long run, the point-to-point run when I see my Mother patiently waiting to pick me up from a parking lot. I enjoy the scenery. Every Sunday I run by cows and as they look at me with a confused look I happily wave and say hello to them. It is all of these memories that keep me coming back for more. Ultimately, it is YOU who drives YOU to do what you want to do. I have found power within myself to get back in shape, and have rediscovered the joy of an in-shape run.
What do you enjoy doing? What drives you to succeed?