I remember watching an episode of Oprah years ago when she was talking about instinct. There were some women on her show who had been attacked or assaulted and they all said the same thing: they had ignored their original instinct about the situation.
Although I’m no die-hard Oprah fan, that spoke fairly clearly to me. Your gut reaction to someone or something is worth not ignoring.
As I got ready for my long run this morning (29k), I realized that this whole marathon training makes me consciously go against what seems like the right thing to do. I make myself go against my instinct.
It didn’t seem like a very good idea to go for a three hour run on a day when there was a wind and rain warning, but I made myself.
It didn’t seem like the smartest thing to keep running at 10k when my knee started twinging, but I did.
It really didn’t seem like a good idea to choke down those absolutely horrible gel packs, but I did.
And then! When it was finally all over, and I was one big toe into an ice bath, I thought, Girl, you’re nuts. That was perhaps the worst idea of all.
So why do we do it? Why do I do it? Something that makes me uncomfortable, something that feels “wrong”?
There’s no logical answer, and I guess that’s because training for a marathon isn’t logical. It’s hard and painful and at times really foolish. It rules your life (or at least mine) when you run more than 50km a week. Life begins to revolve around long runs – you are either recovering from one or mentally preparing for one. It’s killer on your social life, because running hungover sucks and too much restaurant food can play havoc on your intestines.
In January, I loudly claimed that this would be my last marathon. I would get my goal and reach my potential and then I’d be done. And that is completely untrue. Because nothing I have ever done in my life gives me the sense of accomplishment and power and belief in myself that long-distance running does.
I’ve run multiple 5k’s and 10k’s and half marathons and even a really awesome triathlon last summer. I’ve had great races and I’ve had miserable races and I know that I am who got myself through (however slowly at times) each and every kilometre.
When I’m 15km from home, I feel very alone. I run along a road boarder by the ocean. I look at the waves and the ducks and the ice and sometimes stop and peer down into the surprisingly clear water to see what’s there. I make a conscious decision to keep running when my legs are tired. And that conscious decision to keep going transcends into other aspects of my life.
The last 7k of my run is uphill and it’s so hard, every time. Today, my quads were burning and I was tired. But every week, after I get home and think about that hill, think about that 7k, I am proud of myself. Because I choose the route and I choose to run and I choose to keep going.
My first marathon was a completely profound experience for me. I broke down the barriers of what I had perceived as my limits. When you take away your limitations, do you know what is left? Infinite possibility.
The second time is proving to be no less powerful, just at a time when I really needed something to remind me of how strong I am. I broke down my limitations last time, and this time I’m starting to see just how far I can go.