The Truth About Training
A few years ago, I decided to train for my first half marathon to get in shape before my wedding. My fiancé/now husband and I made the decision to do it together. Neither of us were in great shape and we thought it would be a good goal for ourselves. I remember training on the completely flat but scalding hot roads of eastern North Carolina. It was the time of year where the heat just radiates off the road. Like, fry an egg kind of hot. This was before I put any thought into the time of day for running or try to search for a shaded trail. We just went out the front door and hit the road. By hit, I mean basically crawled. I was so slow! It wasn’t until that actual race day that I ran my first 3 miles without stopping. When I hit that part in the race, I did my own little victory dance. I’d say that was almost as exciting as finishing.
That half was cold, windy and brutal for us newbies. Yes, we’d spent months training, but we were still fresh in the running world. Throughout those 13 miles, I walked a ton. Some severe hip pain showed up around mile 9, and I limped my way through it for a few miles. Actually, we were both in pretty rough shape towards the end. But seeing that last mile, it brought all the adrenaline back. It gave us wings! My fiancé was so sweet to stay with me the entire time. It was our idea to train together and wanted to finish the thing together. We then, immediately afterwards, gorged on 10am pizza and beer. Living the life, right? We felt so accomplished; I think we even wore our medals to the bar afterwards.
Since then we’ve trained for so many things. That half was the spark I needed to realize all the opportunities out there. It’s not like I’ve ever been training to be the best. With starting to run in my 20’s, I just don’t think I’ll ever be the leader of the pack. But I find that I still get so much out of running my own race. I train to give myself something to work towards. I keep the goal in sight and use to it plan my monthly/weekly/daily workouts. Once finished, I check it off the list and look for something else to work towards.
Over the past few years, I’ve trained for a post-baby half marathon, a marathon, a SwimRun, an ultramarathon and now a 70.3 IronMan. I’ve also decided to add the NYC marathon to the list. The first marathon came at a time when I wanted to have a second baby. I asked my husband if he’d rather run a marathon or have a baby. He chose the run, so we did that first then went onto baby number two.
The truth? Yes, I get really freaking tired and these training seasons completely take over my life. But I also thrive from it. Training helps me put everything into perspective. I’ve become a true believer that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to, with enough dedication and practice. It takes time. It takes grit. But it can be done.
Sooner or later, you notice that your views on running and training seem to mesh with the rest of your life. You find that you live life a little differently. Once you’ve proved to yourself that you can hold onto a goal for an extended period of time and actually complete it, you realize you can do the same at work, at home and in your relationships. You learn to prioritize better. You learn sacrifice and you learn how to stay positive. You learn that the bad stuff does eventually pass. If you can just hold it together for a bit longer, you’ll be in the clear. You’ve got this.
I’ve had people mention how crazy it is that I spend so much time by myself, on myself. It’s like it’s a disservice to my husband and kids. I don’t think so. No, it actually serves them just as much as it does me. Without my morning run or my weekend 3 hour brick escape, I would be more uptight and stressed out. I’d snap at the kids more and appreciate my husband less. I wouldn’t be the best mom that I could be.
There are days when the family joins me in training. These are the times that I get out of my head and really enjoy the moments. My 3 year old has grown up running with me and she tries to get out of the jogger constantly, to be like mama. She has the love of running inside her and I couldn’t be prouder. My husband goes along with me because he knows how happy it makes me and because in his own way, he loves it too. While he may not like to admit to the benefits as much, he feeds off all the goodness of running as well.
Running has changed our lives and it continues to do so. Training can be all-consuming and life altering, but it’s just making us stronger, better people. I say go for it! Find something you want to shoot for and just go for it. Register for the race, buy the plane ticket or start the fundraising page. Do it. Don’t shy away or get nervous. Think about all that growth that you’re backing away from. It’ll absolutely change your life (for the good) if you let it.