I’m training for my fifth marathon, and I’ve never had so much fun or felt so good about the work I’m doing.
That is the greatest gift of experience. My workouts are better because I can handle the physical strain thanks to 16 years of running and because I know how to handle the stress and strain mentally.
In years past, I’ve worried about whether or not I could finish a workout and on occasion, cut things short because I worried myself right into a weakened physical state.
There’s also the stress and strain from my job. I’m a newspaper reporter. To give you an idea, Forbes listed the job as the worst one in America. We finally beat out (if you want to call it that) lumberjack, our longtime nemesis, for the undesirable title. Stress and anxiety, which I have had in abundance, makes everything more difficult. It constricts my chest and gives me the sensation that I can’t breathe. It makes sleeping difficult. And it makes me feel physically weak. All I want to do is hide in my bed or sit on my couch and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and Gilmore girls. Oy with the poodles already.
Thanks to several years of introspection, reflection, learning and work, I’m slowly loosening the grip anxiety has on me. With that, my running is improving. I’m smarter about my goals; I don’t have to get everything now.
One past mistake I’d made was trying to go straight for a 3:30 marathon. My PR is 3:53. This year at the Hamilton Marathon, my goal is 3:45. It’s a much more reasonable goal and much less scary. The workouts, with a goal mile pace of 8:30, are more attainable. At 27, I have many years of improvement ahead of me. Finally, I don’t feel like I have to get there immediately. Progress takes time.
With the joy of clicking off miles, hitting my workouts and successfully battling the heat, there are seeds of doubt in my mind.
“This won’t continue,” says that rotten voice in the back of my mind. “Something will come up again. Your iron levels will drop. You’re going to become too fatigued and not do your workouts. Your hamstring could start acting up again.”
That voice. That voice is always there whenever I hit my stride.
Thanks to Brene Brown, I understand the voice is shame. It’s some weird part of all of us that tells us we are not good enough.
Shame will never completely go away, but we can learn to outwit it and shut it down before it becomes overwhelming. I’ve learned to tell that voice to back off and shut the hell up. The only true failure in life is not trying. This is where maturity (and Brene Brown’s incredible work) comes in.
I will own the good days and the bad, and I will not fear what might happen and what is to come. In running, in relationships and in work, I have overcome difficulties and failures, and at times, they have beaten me. But every time, I have risen and returned stronger and wiser than before.
When I step on that line Nov. 1, I’ll know I gave training everything I had, and I’ll be prepared to give everything on the marathon course.