running · self-esteem

On erasing my personal records

This past season of training and racing was a huge success for me – not just physically in the act of running, but mentally as well. I learned to love my journey and my process. I learned to have pride in myself. I learned to believe in myself. I learned about sisterhood. I learned about embracing mental and physical challenges.

Now that I am in the “off season” before training for the Syracuse Half starts in August, I have had time to pause and reflect on my hectic 8 weeks of intense training and how I want to proceed moving forward.

One week after the SPAC half marathon, I did something that I have resisted doing for years. I went for a quick 3 mile run. I saved the run in my watch…and then I opted to delete all of my personal records from my history.

Yes, that is correct. Ms. Data-Obsessed, Ms. Pace-Obsessed, Ms. Time-Obsessed deleted all of her PR times and distances from history, without a second thought.

Why? Well, I realized that I spent a lot of time reflecting on my need to embrace the athlete I am now, rather than lamenting the athlete I used to be…but I didn’t act on that realization at all. I still let myself feel slow, heavy and nostalgic after a run, race or workout. I still allowed the misery to creep into my thoughts, as I compared old times vs. new times.

How could I be proud of my accomplishments, motivated to chase new goals, and enthusiastic about my races when I had my past performances clinging to the back of my mind? I deserved to treat myself, and my performances now, with more respect than that.

I feel less anxious now, that I’m taking these weeks off of intense running. I do not feel pressured to run now, to “maintain fitness”, because I know it will come back to me. I run when I want to, I explore new methods of fitness and activity when I want to. I’ve been practicing yoga weekly, and attempting to teach my mind to meditate. I’ve been exploring what my body wants and needs in this moment. I’ve been learning to love my body, myself – without hardcore training looming over my head.

Erasing those records? It’s been good for my soul.

running · self-esteem

On fear

I had a very humbling run this weekend. I kicked my shoes off afterwards, and I said some unkind things to myself. I’ve been pouting a bit since.
I have a running/training journal – I am that kind of nerd, obviously – and today I flipped open to a quote that resonated pretty strongly with me.
“Turn down the volume of fear and turn up the volume of confidence and resilience.”
It caused me to pause, and to reflect upon my journey within the past year. I have made significant gains since my return to running just last April.
Last year I had side stitches every time I tried to run. I couldn’t run more than 3 slow miles. Hills defeated me at each and every attempt.
This year? I have run double-digit miles, multiple times a week. I have run up and down mountains. I have raced. I have made new personal records.
That one difficult run terrified me this weekend. It put fear in my mind that I could not accomplish my biggest goal this year. That I couldn’t finish my first half marathon in two years. That I could not redeem myself after my last embarrassing finish.
In my opinion it is good to acknowledge fear. It is more than okay to have fear.
But I’ve come too far to let fear keep me from the starting line. I’ve come too far to let fear keep me from trying.
I can have fear, but I will be resilient.
running · self-esteem

let your beauty unfold

rumi.jpgOn Tuesday nights I have been helping my running coach with her New Beginners, an intro 5k group for women. This group is massive – I’m talking 60-70 women on any given night. Coach usually splits this group into 3-4 sub-groups, pending participant ability.

Typically I lead group two; these are ladies that are giving it their all, and completing some truly strenuous workouts – but have never before completed a 5k race.

 

Yesterday, for the first time, they ran the entire SUNY Albany loop – a full 3 miles. Prior to this they have been accustomed to running timed intervals; but when we gathered together yesterday evening Coach surprised them with the news that they were expected to do the full 3 miles. You could see the fear on their faces. When we took off, they were already chattering about how they couldn’t possibly do it. It was too warm, too sunny, etc.

It allowed me to pause and reflect on my own journey so far. From being a pack-a-day smoker to a half marathoner. From a race-related injury, two years ago, to recovery and how I also faced the same breathlessness and anxiety over what I now consider to be such a small distance. Just last year I was in this 5k group myself; anything above 2 miles after my injury seemed like a marathon distance. And now, just one week ago, I completed one of the hardest workouts I have ever attempted. I ran miles (plural) up a mountain (500ft gained elevation…I’m calling it a mountain). I did not stop, I did not walk. And then I ran back down.

I let that sink in.

I have noticed the gains in muscle in my lower body – in my quads, in my calves. I have noticed the ease with which a new pace goal can be achieved. I have noticed the ease with which I am conquering new distances. But for some reason I have the hardest time acknowledging that I am a runner. That I am worthy of such a title.

I have never felt like a runner, due to my party-girl background, or my body type, or my size or my pace. I was too big, too slow, and running was too hard to consider myself a “real” runner. I have often avoided races above the 5k that were reserved for “real” runners. Let me say that again. I have trained for, and still not signed up for, distances of up to a full marathon without ever registering for the race itself all because I did not think I was a “true” runner, that I would be “wasting” the space.

But yet here I was – running up mountains, crushing workouts, increasing distance, tracking my weekly mileage. Here I was spending half a Sunday making sure I get my long runs in. Here I was offering encouragement to women who were just like me, only a short time ago.

Never have I felt more in love with running, or my body, than I did crawling up that final hill with those women. Never have I felt more in love with running, or my body, than sprinting to the finish with them. Never before have I realized that I am tired of fighting my body, and of trying to make it conform to some mental image that I may or may not ever attain.

Today I am looking at the Syracuse Half Marathon registration dates. I know what I’ll be doing April 18th at 11:00am: signing my name to stand in line with the rest of the “real” runners this Fall.

 

Oh, and my ladies crushed that loop, for the record.