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It's really hard to wrap my head around the fact that a 13 mile long run is the start of a training cycle for me. It feels like just yesterday that a 3 mile run felt impossible and daunting. When it comes to running, it's really about your confidence. Does the distance feel impossibly far? Will you be able to finish in one piece?
For years now, I've relied on the ability to distract myself or check out when I run to get through my longer runs smiling. I let my body dictate the pace and I let my mind wander to whatever imaginary land it wishes to go. It's great. It's how I come up wit most of my content and it's the time I get to just be alone with my thoughts and my imagination. There's nothing more freeing than just running without a care. But it comes at a cost. Letting my mind run off stops me from being present.
Last month, the incredible human being that is Chris Heuisler gave me the book Marathon Man to help me chase down my Boston Qualifying marathon time. This book is a must read for any runner. It's inspiring, motivating, exciting, and most importantly, you'll learn and relate to everything Bill Rodgers says. (Well, maybe not the parts about running in the Olympics or winning the NYC Marathon and Boston Marathons a couple of times.) Something Chris told me before I started reading the book and after we talked about my BQ goal was how the marathon will humble you.
Going from running for my soul to running towards an intimidating goal time has been physically difficult but even more challenging mentally! My pace has gotten faster over the years because I've gotten gradually stronger on my own but following my coach Josh's specific training has opened my eyes to the sport in a completely different way. I'm finding myself going to places mentally that I've never really been before.
Something Bill Rodgers explains in his book clicked with me during my run this past Sunday. He talks about another author and runner, Haruki Murakami who wrote the popular book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (another great book for runners though not my favorite. It was entertaining but kind of meh.), and how Haruki Murakami talks about checking out and almost meditating during his runs which is exactly what I've done over the years. But because Bill is racing to win, he's running at a completely different caliber. He has to be ultra present to win. He has to listen to the fatigue and pain and lean into it instead of disassociating from it like I've done over the years.
I had an incredibly easy 13 mile long run on Sunday because I woke up in a good mood and checked out when I ran. I let my imagination run wild and as I was finishing, I realized how little I thought about what I was doing and how different that felt from my past tempo runs. When I run fast, I'm aware of everything going on. The heaviness in my legs, the burning in my lungs, and how I'm repeating to myself to keep pushing. I'm so consumed with running that I don't have time to check out. So on Sunday when I didn't have specific goal paces set, I was able to just go and it wasn't just liberating, it was also kind of terrifying.
I love running because it's the time I get to be alone with my thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams. It's during my long runs that I do my best thinking and brainstorming and it's intimidating to accept that I'm going to have to let that take a set on the back burner until I cross the finish line of the Chicago Marathon. (And I'm not saying those runs aren't going to happen, they just aren't going to be as frequent as they have been over the years.)
As scared as I am of a fast 2 or 3 hour long run, I'm excited to tackle this new mental challenge. I learn something new about myself and my limits every single time I get uncomfortable. It's been a crazy experience so far and the really hard work hasn't even started yet! So let's keep fighting towards those impossible goals. We have a long way to go!
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Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.