This week marks the beginning of my 25th year as a runner. On March 4, 1996 I laced up my shoes for the first time and with really no idea of what I was doing podded through a two mile ring of my apartment building in Hackensack, New Jersey. (Read about that HERE).Read more
We often talk about the connection between mind and body – visualizing positive outcomes, training our minds, the importance of building “mental fortitude” – during our physical training. While it’s important to consider the connection between mind and body (being as well as doing) as we look to achieve our goals, another important consideration is the soul (or feeling).
And that’s where the “cause” comes in. A cause by definition is something that gives rise to action. A cause can be positive, negative, personal or philanthropic, but it’s ultimately what motivates us. Read more
Fall Marathon season is upon us. The Berlin Marathon was Sunday. Chicago Marathoners are starting their taper now for the October 8th event, and New York City is the first weekend in November. In addition to those World Majors, FindMyMarathon.com lists another 201 Marathons scheduled for just October and November. It’s quite easy at this time of year to get bitten by the Marathon Bug.
People decide to run their first marathon for a variety of reasons. Some are seasoned runners who have accomplished other distances and the marathon seems like the next logical step. Some decide to tackle the distance for the first time as part of a charity team as a way to honor their values or pay tribute to a loved one. For some, like me, they see news coverage of a marathon event, and suddenly think for no apparent reason, I want to do that.
Two weeks ago I mentioned that I had signed up for the 2018 New Jersey Marathon. It’s Sunday, April 29th. Although that is still almost 34 weeks away, it’s not too early to start some training (and between now and then I will include in the blog a little of what I’m doing to prepare in case you want to join me in this next challenge).
I actually started preparing months ago. Most importantly, I had to be healthy. Some first steps included making sure I had core strength to support the increased effort, had developed a consistent warm-up and post run stretching routine to minimize risk of injury, and finally, was consistently running 20 miles or more a week (note the repetition of the word “consistent”).
This past weekend was the New Jersey Marathon and Half Marathon. I ran the Half – my goal race for the spring, I didn’t come anywhere near a personal best. Was off by almost 20 minutes actually. But that wasn’t my goal. My goal was to get back into training shape, on the way to a bigger goal of a personal best in the full Marathon a year from now. I was thinking the bench mark for “training shape” would be a sub-2 hour Half. Didn’t quite get there. I wasn’t disappointed though. I did way better than I did at Newport last fall. I finished really strong with the last 5k being my fastest and running stronger in the 2nd half of the race overall. So mission accomplished, right?
If I am honest with myself, I will admit that had I stuck to my training plan, I would have easily run Sunday’s Half in under 2 hours. Its kind of like in school when you didn’t study for the test, pass, but also realized that had you studied, you would have gotten an “A”. I guess it comes down to understanding why you didn’t study, asking yourself if getting an “A” really matters that much, and where does the “lower grade” leave you in accomplishing the bigger goal? There is often a fine line between being “flexible” and sucumbing to that voice in our head that is sabotaging us.
It’s important to listen to what we are all telling ourselves when we make excuses. When we hear ourselves say things like “I don’t have enough time” we need to ask “what about that is true?” and “what about that is false?” We don’t have enough time because we are making a choice to do something else with our time. We build our lives on the choices we make in each moment. Is the choice we’re making good or bad? I believe making a choice to be flexible is good. Flexible branches move with the wind, rigid ones break.
We all need to create a balance in our lives so we can do and be what makes us happy, make a living, stay healthy, and maintain the relationships that are important to us. That isn’t always easy and sometimes our values are in conflict with one another. Yes, sticking to our training schedule honors our values of discipline, health, achievement, and accomplishment, etc.; but what we value about our family can take time away from our workouts. Or sometimes our health is more important than getting through a workout. Pushing ourselves through illness or injury has consequences. Those issues are real. Saying we have no time to work toward achieving goals when we are spending an hour or two on social media everyday is not.
Two questions that I repeatedly ask my clients are ‘what do you want?” and “what’s important to you about that?” The answers to these two questions clarify priorities and help us make decisions. A follow up might be, “what affect does this decision have on your bigger goal?” Re-establishing a commitment to the big goal helps us evaluate those voices in our head. In allowing ourselves to compromise on smaller goals, are we ultimately sabotaging the bigger goal?
Running for 20 plus years has shown me that our commitment to intense training ebbs and flows. The reasons why we run change. That’s a natural occurrence that helps us avoid complete burnout. That flexibility is important. There are times when we need to be more available to our kids, our work schedules are more of a priority, or we are more committed to other goals. Its all about creating balance. Being flexible helps us stay balanced.
Yeah. I could have trained harder and ran a better time on Sunday. But it doesn’t matter. Through the training I did, I stepped closer to the big goal. I also developed some good habits like getting back to the gym for strength and cross training and eating healthier. By remaining flexible in the time I put into my training, I still had time to dedicate to my role as a mom and building my business. I’m feeling very balanced. Now if I can just spend a little less time on social media, I’ll be all ready for next year’s Marathon. 🙂
Long Branch, New Jersey. April 2017.