On Becoming a Runner (pt. 2)
My original intention for this post was to pick up where I left off and write about run training. What happens when a Spinning instructor takes off the clips and starts training for a half-marathon? I planned to write about using cross-training machines (hate them, but they work) and jumping on treadmills before and after teaching classes. I planned to write about how I felt crossing over into mileage I'd never done, how I felt about about slowing down (me?) and changing my stride to help with endurance. I planned to write about running 10 miles on a treadmill, my first trail runs, and being a student.
While all of this will play a role, I realized, as I received my race number and packet this morning, that this post is not at all about these things. This post is more about the mind than the body and how our thought processes can get us to our goals or render them impossible.
I casually mentioned to a new boyfriend, and runner, that I was always interested in doing some longer distance and multi-sport races. At this time, I was not running at all. Soon after, I received the following in an email, with a training schedule soon to follow: "There is no pressure to do a race, however, I'd love to be the one to make a difference in your life and introduce you to the world of running (pain-free). " I don't know...maybe it was all the endorphins from being in a new relationship or maybe it was the thought of actually getting off my own plateau and pushing myself a bit, but I decided to sign on. However, here was what I actually said: "Oh sure, but I have signed up for things before and something ALWAYS happens to prevent me from doing them, but I'll try." Oops.
I KNOW better than that. I know, not just from teachers' theorizing, but from actual personal experience, that we get what we put out there. Whether you've watched or read "The Secret," whether you've read Dr. Wayne Dyer or Mike Dooley even before Oprah jumped on board, it's all the same thing. To quote some of those aforementioned: "Thoughts become things," "What you focus on grows," "See yourself at the finish line," "Manifest, manifest, manifest," Oh, I know it, I teach it, I believe in it. Yes, I knew it long before "The Secret" came out, long before everyone had a "vision board" in their house. I knew I could make "things happen," even as a child. These are not new concepts. I even have the description from one of the races I have always wanted to do hanging in my room. Then, why would I ever put that "out there." Why would I ever think I would not accomplish something before I even began? Even as I write this, I am still not completely sure...but fear comes to mind...fear of failure, fear of disappointment, mistrust in the process. It's too much analysis for this little blog (and completely unnecessary here or otherwise), but I'll tell you over the mic in the Spin room to SEE yourself at the finish line, to FEEL what you will feel when you get there, and I know with 100% certainty that you will get there. One of my favorite sayings is, "We teach what we need to learn," and this was clearly a case of this.
I did not see it, though, until I started to melt down during training. I wear many hats while juggling the many balls in my life. I am a divorced mom, I work, I am in school and many other things. I am no different than all the others who are in similar circumstances and I am grateful every day that things are as good as they are for me. But, there are moments I become overwhelmed and I began to have them. I began to question if I really had the time to add in training on top of everything else. I remember saying more than once, "I canNOT do it all...it's too much for me." I was viewing it as HARD. Oops #2. But I still did not see it. I didn't get it until things started happening. I was on a pretty good roll (in between all of the self doubts) getting in some good runs, feeling strong and doing mileage I'd never done before. I'd slowed down considerably, adjusted the way I run, and it was working. I was not training as much as I'd like, but I was getting in what I could around all my other obligations. I was having fun. Then, I realized, it was 2 weeks out from the half-marathon I had planned to run and 3 weeks out from the duathlon I was also planning to do, and I had neither put the races on my calendar nor signed up for them. Did I still not believe I could actually do it? I signed up for both that night.
It was Easter vacation and my kids were home from school. My training plans needed to be readjusted. I could no longer jump out the door to get in a run. I was either teaching or being mom. That was really it, but I was also feeling some pain in my left achilles, both after running and Spinning. We decided that a few days off wouldn't hurt and took the break as a good thing. I did a 10 mile run on a treadmill (cold hard rain in NY and I took the lesser of two evils) over 3 weeks before the race and it, I did not know it then, would be my last long(er) run. I had not run more than 8 miles outside at all. Right when they were supposed to be back in school, we started a round of stomach viruses in our house that would last the next 2 weeks. I was not spared. I was sick for at least 3 days and exhausted from being up all night with sick children. I subbed out 8 classes during this time. We were not all healthy until 2 days before the race.
During this time, I finally got it. All I kept hearing was my own voice, "Something ALWAYS happens to prevent me from doing what I want to do." I knew this needed to shift. So I started telling myself that I wasn't going to let anything stop me from reaching this goal. I needed to do this, for so many reasons, and I would.
U2 has a song on the new album called, "Moment of Surrender" (which is a great climb, by the way). While I don't recall the moment, I knew I had to surrender. I had to stop viewing everything as so hard, because, in the scope of things, it really wasn't. I had to surrender any hopes of putting up the time I wanted. My only goal became to get to the start line, because I knew I'd finish once I got there...