Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What running has taught me

On Monday, I ran my first real workout since running the Detroit marathon.

You know, 2 months ago.

You see, I injured myself right after which really slowed things down for me. Or, I guess it would be more correct to say that I had an overuse injury. Long miles will occasionally do that to you.

I've been resting, cross training, and running easy miles since then. I had attempted a few harder workouts here and there, but pain and discomfort would often either force me to stop the workout and finish the miles easy or would cause me ongoing pain for the next day or two.

Finally (FINALLY!), I started feeling back to normal last week. Still kept things easy, but I finally started feeling like maybe I could get back to training.

So, on Monday, I tested the waters for the first time. My schedule had a farlek interval session - 8 x 600m repeats at 7:50-8:00 pace with 2 min rest periods. When I first saw the workout, I said "EIGHT intervals?!? That sounds like way too much." Plus, I was going to attempt this outside on our snowy roads. I had tried a speed workout on my treadmill, and it was way harder than I thought necessary.

But I decided to just give this a try. Who cares if I didn't hit the paces? As long as the effort was there, I would be satisfied.

Imagine my surprise when I started that first interval, and it felt...easy?

No no, not possible. Not easy. Is my Garmin wrong? Maybe the satellite isn't working well. Ok, well this is the first interval. You have seven more to go. Let's just see what happens.

Despite some slushy spots, some uphills, and some traffic issues, I'm happy to report that I nailed this workout!

8:02, 7:57, 8:01, 8:06, 7:56, 7:59, 8:03, 7:56

Yes, some of those are slightly over 8:00. But not enough to even concern me. 4 of those intervals were sub-8! The best part? My foot never bothered me. I even kind of forgot about it.

So, to the point of this post, here is what running has taught me.

Patience - I will get there. The miles will come eventually. My body will fall into place eventually. I just need to put in the work and let things happen.

Perseverance - Yes, it's hard. Yes, sometimes it sucks. But you know what's even harder? Quitting. Well, quitting and doing nothing is easy. But the guilt and mental anguish that comes with knowing I let myself down - that part is hard. So I work through the hard stuff. Because that outcome is so much better than quitting.

Strength - I'm stronger than I give myself credit. Every time I doubt that I can do something - a workout, a race, a long run, I just put my head down and get to work. And you know what? I get the job done! I may be tired as a dog afterward, but that experience is just making me stronger for next time.

I never thought when I started running that I'd get to this point. The point where I want to run marathons, and do speed workouts, and call myself a "runner". But running has taught me so much about myself and life, and it's become enmeshed with my identity at this point. If I could never run again, sure I'd be sad and there would be some angry/depressed days (weeks), but I'd find a new sport and use the lessons that running has taught me to keep going. Because that's what distance runners do - keep going.


  1. I love these lessons - so true!! I am quite often amazing at how much I can do (even after some long layoffs with not much going on in between)! Congrats on a great workout! And here's to hoping they continue to come natural for you!! :)

  2. Great speed workout, and great post! I'm still too scared to attempt any speedwork. My 5-mile race was speedy, but I felt okay speeding up on flat ground. I'm too afraid to mix speed and hills now that I'm back home!
    Your lessons are spot on and I love what you said at the end. I truly don't know how long I'll be a runner. I hope it's forever, but I'm certainly cognizant of the fact that there might come a day when I either can't run anymore or, for whatever reason, I don't want to. But the lessons I've learned from it will no doubt help me in whatever else I decide to do! I already find myself applying running lessons to all kinds of things in life.