When chaos breaks loose and life hurls challenges and obstacles that are beyond our control, a sense of helplessness and defeat can set in. But what these complications (also known as life) can also do, is spur inspiration. Inspiration to grow. To change. To take on new challenges outside of our comfort zones. And to take control of something we’re able to. Several months ago I experienced some major growing pains with personal relationships, moving into my own apartment for the first time, transitioning jobs and battling a series of illnesses. Lying around crying and feeling bad for myself got old quickly. So I pep-talked myself into putting on some clothes, going outside and running.
The constant footfall along the Venice Beach bike path was like therapy for the soul. As the miles passed, the problems seemed to go with them. An escape from the dark things crashing down around me, running was my refuge. I needed motivation and something to strive for in order to escape this rut. Which is why I decided to train for a marathon. Let things be as they may; I can’t control everything in life, but I can commit to a goal and do my best to see it through to the end. This marathon has been my coping mechanism, the carrot I’m chasing when I wake up at 6:00 am to run 8 miles before work, or dig a foam roller into my stressed hip flexor or force down some disgusting fruit-flavored GU as I reach mile 14 on a Saturday morning run.
Growing up, I played a variety of sprint-related sports – soccer, basketball, short distance track – but long distance was never appealing to me. As I’ve gotten older and team sports have become more difficult to commit to both time-wise and body-wise (my 28-year-old bones aren’t as resilient as they were ten years ago), running has become more appealing. I can do it without relying on others, I can fit it into my ever-changing schedule, it’s a killer cardio workout and best of all, it’s FREE!
A marathon was always something I’d dreamed of doing, but it seemed like a far-fetched goal. With previous sports injuries under my belt, it was easy to shrug it off and postpone the 26.2 miles until next year. Or the next year. Or the next year. Until this year, when January rolled around and I made the mental commitment to pick a race and negate any and all excuses. San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon, it is. Which is supposed to be a great route and even more badass than your typical marathon because they have live bands performing at every mile marker. I did the Los Angeles Rock and Roll Half Marathon a year and a half ago and the bands made it fun and (slightly) distracting from pain along the way.
A green horn distance runner, I hit the internet to research training programs, subscribed to Runner’s Magazine, and suddenly began caring about the quality of running socks I owned. Are they wool? Moisture wicking? Extra cushioning in the heel and toes? Hal Higdon’s training program won me over, so I downloaded his running app and I’ve been consuming pages of his book, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. I also talk to any and everyone who will talk to me about running – attempting to get advice from more seasoned runners than I and to recruit running partners along the way. You could say I’ve become obsessed with the process.
The 18-week program I’ve signed onto has been pretty logically sound (click here to check it out), but admittedly given personal schedule issues, I’ve cheated here and there. A month out from marathon day (Sunday June 2, 2013) I’ve run 195.33 miles, and this little running app ($9.99 on iOs – Android is soon to come) helps me keep track of it day by day:
* NOTE: I also LOVE the RunKeeper App which is free (on iOs and Android)
As race day approaches, I’ll try to be better about blogging more consistently. I’m learning a lot about the ups and downs of training, as well as how certain exercises, stretches and training methods affect your body. So does nutrition, sleep and mentality. Any sound advice from books, magazines, articles and seasoned runners will make an appearance in the next several blog entries for any of you who’ve considered a marathon, or running more long distance in general. This morning I covered eight miles, tomorrow’s a rest day and Saturday’s 14. Gulp. 26.2 miles is starting to seem a bit crazy…