I am doing the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) this weekend and I confess that I have engaged in a completely unconventional marathon training plan. OK, the truth is, I’ve been completely not really training, allowing other priorities (work, family, sleep) to take precedence over getting in important stuff like 18-20 mile runs. Last week I was out for a run and was allowing the thoughts that have plagued me over the last 2 weeks (“I am completely undertrained, YIKES!!” ) to take over. But suddenly it hit me – WHO CARES? If I have to walk part of the marathon for whatever reason, so what?? I have never been one of those people who did something to prove that I could. I did Ironman because it seemed like a fun, crazy adventure, & all the stars lined up right for me to train in 2.5 months. I did it again because it was a way to get my sister & her family and my dad & stepmom and us all back together in the country where we grew up (Mexico). I did last year’s Hartford marathon, my first stand-alone non-Ironman-Triathlon marathon, because Christine and Sandra were doing it, so I figured it would be fun to train with them.
I’ve reminded myself recently of my A-HA! moment with running. I signed up for the Marine Corps because I used to HATE running, until a coworker convinced me to start running with her during lunch breaks when we worked at the World Wildlife Fund in DC. Running past the monuments & shirtless Marines (eye candy!) eased me through the initial pain every beginner runner goes through, and eventually I started liking it. So it seemed like a good idea to do the MCM at some point. I have never been interested in qualifying for Boston Marathon, and while a lot of runners enjoy posting their times on FB, numbers are meaningless to me. In fact, I have no idea what my PR’s are in any distance. To me, training & racing is all about a spiritual connection with God, self, others. Feeling my lungs expanding, my muscles pumping, the sweat coursing, sensing those around me let go of hang-ups as we are all in this primal state together – that’s what matters to me. Sure, I can be very competitive, but it’s a game to me, not an identity or source of self-worth.
I started thinking about all of this and suddenly felt FREEDOM. I started to focus on my breath, my running posture, the feeling of the sun on my face. No longer worrying about what I have done or haven’t done in training, what I will do or won’t do on “race” day, I just ran. And ran. And suddenly I’d been running for 2 hours (oops! That was my last long run till race day, really!).
So, whether you’re in poga class, on the dreadmill, in zumba, doing P90X, walking the dog – let’s all just commit to focusing on accepting where we are today, nudging ourselves out of our comfort zones, ignoring the temptation to compare ourselves to others or to who we were last year or 5 years ago. Let’s keep calm & breathe on.