Mileage and Mindfulness: Marathon Training Week One

A few years ago, I was a runner. I was breaking personal records, losing toenails after marathons, craving Huma gel packs and regularly experiencing a runner’s high. Then my priorities shifted and my relationship with running got very casual. I’ve spent the last few years doing an occasional race mostly fueled by walk breaks and a strong mindset. My dad calls it my bulldozer mindset. That’s what my recent races have been like – until about two weeks ago.

I’ve wanted to break four hours in a marathon for the past four years. I wrote this goal on my chalkboard in 2013 and that’s as far as I got. Chalk on a board. However, I really didn’t do anything to accomplish it. I had a list full of excuses. I put other things first. I got committed to a yoga practice. I was honestly burned out with running. Then through a series of events – a fox, a podcast, a text, a friend, a sunrise, a race – that all changed.  I woke up one day and knew I was ready. I hired a coach and signed up for the California International Marathon on December 3, 2017.

I just completed my first week of training and I’ve already learned so much. It started with allowing myself to be completely humbled and vulnerable. Right now, I have work to do. I’m not the runner that I once was, but I will be. I’ll be better. But it starts with small steps. It starts with choosing each day to make progress. I have to be honest with my coach and most importantly, myself. I have to show myself grace. I have to show up every day and be ready to learn, to grow, to run.

Here are five other things I learned the first week of marathon training: 

1.    If you don’t ask, you don’t know

My week one training included two timed runs that should be done on a course without interruptions (i.e. stoplights). The notes recommended a track, which provided my first obstacle. I’ve looked for open tracks before and they tend to be locked. I contemplated hopping fences, making a sidewalk work or running up and down the same street. Then instead, I got bold. I called the athletic director at my old high school and within five minutes I secured the key to my local track. Well, that was easy. Imagine what else could happen if you just ask.

2.    The only boundaries are the ones we create for ourselves

Going into this first week, I had preconceived notions for how I thought my training would go. A preconceived notion is defined as: (n) an opinion formed beforehand without adequate evidence. I was limiting myself based on an opinion from evidence that I couldn’t even support. In fact, it was fear based on experiences from years ago. Once I decided to eliminate this boundary and just run, my opportunities were limitless. I ended up running faster, stronger and longer than I thought. The only boundaries that exist, we create ourselves. Whether these are based in fear, previous experiences or self-inflicted expectations, they are an illusion. You aren’t today who you were yesterday. You don’t know what you can accomplish today. So go out and live free. Run free.

Note: I ran an 8:46 timed mile. This is something we will continuously test over the next few months to gauge my progress. Stay tuned…     

3.    Don’t believe everything you see online

The Internet can be a great thing. It can be used to inspire others, share information and connect people. It can also be a place filled with deceiving posts, negativity and inaccurate information. At it’s best, take what you see on the Internet and apply it in a way that aligns with your true self. Learn, absorb, share and participate, but don’t let it dictate your life. I experienced this on my long run yesterday. While I enjoyed my coffee, I watched Snapchat stories about the beautiful 50-degree weather we were experiencing in Minnesota. So I dressed accordingly to how I interpreted these posts and I set out for a 50-minute run without doing my own research. I knew immediately I had made a mistake. While the temp read 50, it was windy and felt much cooler. It took miles for my ears to warm up and for my mind to get focused. This is a simple example, but a good reminder. While I continue to love and actively use the Internet, I was reminded to write my own story and not believe everything I see.

4.    We are always training for life

I mentioned earlier that I didn’t do anything these past few years to prepare for a sub-four hour marathon. Turns out, I did. Each decision led me to where I am today. I wasn’t ready to commit four years ago. I didn’t know the benefits yoga could have on my running. I wasn’t ready to drastically change my diet. I didn't know how important it is to listen to my body. Through everything I’ve done these past few years, the things I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, each decision I made – they all led me to this first week of training. While I wasn’t actively running, I was preparing myself in other ways. I’m more focused, stronger and motivated than ever before. The decisions you make today are preparing you for milestones in the future. Learn from each opportunity and watch as it lays out the path for you. Life is one big training session.

5.    It’s OK to ask for help

From a young age, I’ve had a “do it myself” attitude. I pride myself on being independent and self-sufficient. But in my humbling moments on those first few runs back, I realized real fast, I can’t do this all alone. Well, I probably could, but I wouldn’t be living my best life. If I went at this alone, I wouldn’t be benefiting from the knowledge, support and community of others. I wouldn’t be putting my best foot forward. It’s OK to ask for help. In fact, it’s recommended if you want to keep growing. I’ve only been working with my coach for a week and I’m so thankful I made that decision. I’ve never trained like this before and that’s what I need if I want to run a race like I’ve never run before. Ask for help, build a community and elevate each other’s lives.

As I continue on this seven-month marathon-training journey, what other advice would you share? What songs get you hyped to run? What inspires you to lace up your shoes each day? Thanks for being part of my experience. Lets Really Live.