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Trust in the training – Respect the distance October 18, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, running.
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Leaf PeeperI ran the Leaf Peeper Half Marathon in Cortland this morning. It was a beautiful crisp fall day and plenty of miles to keep everyone happy.  I also met some very wonderful people. The running community is so supportive and friendly. Many, like me are just out there for the base-line goal – to stay healthy.

I have to admit however that running has become something more to me. Running, in particular, marathon running has taught me so many things that I can apply to my life. These are just a few:

Train for the distance – Every runner knows that achieving goals don’t happen by chance. There is hard work that needs to be done. Most of us design our own training plan or use a pre-designed one by a professional runner or organization. A comprehensive training plan not only includes a running schedule but also rest, nutrition, hydration, injury prevention, and mental preparation need to be addressed. I knew I had a long way to go if I was going to complete my “life marathon” so I went back to college and received a second master’s degree. I accepted every opportunity that was offered to me in order to receive the best “training” possible for my new career goals. I prioritized my daily tasks and eliminated non-essential activities. I balanced my life socially, physically, emotionally, and culturally so that I nurtured body, mind, and soul. Now I am running the race and someday I am going to cross that finish line.

Pace yourself – Runners know the concept of negative splits. This basically means, start slow-end fast. Take your time and assess as you run. Read your body and always respect the distance to the finish line. Patience has never been my strong point. I can’t tell you how many times I have hit the wall because I went out too fast in the beginning. I expect instant results and consequently always end up disappointed with the outcome when I get cocky and run too fast. You must take your time and respect the distance. Life change always takes longer than you think. It is important to stay calm, conserve energy, and assess the situation. I have a lot to learn in this category.

Teamwork – many who are not part of the running community look at this sport as a solitary venture. Nothing can be further than the truth. You need people to support you. There are the running buddies who train with you, the friends who support you, the runners you meet up with on the course to share the experience with, the support staff at the water stations. On top of that, after my marathons I personally need a recovery support coach at the finish line to walk me around and keep me moving as well as make sure I eat and drink. This is very important for recovery and I am not very cooperative in the procedure as my past recovery coaches can attest to (many thanks to Polly, Ginny, and Nicki over the past 6 years for putting up with me.) My life marathon is no different. My friends have been a leveler for me. When I hit a wall, they are there to console me and tell me to get up and try again. When I achieve, they are there to celebrate with me but also to warn me not to get too cocky.  When I am impatient, they wait with me and tell me it won’t be forever.  No one can do this alone.

Pain is only temporary – In running, as in life, pain is always a factor. I tanked out at mile nine today and the pain was evident, believe me! Life has its pain too. There are financial problems, medical problems, relationship problems, career problems, etc… The key is to know that it won’t be forever. Things will change. When the race is over, the pain dissipates, and there is always a sense of accomplishment at the finish line. The key is to start the race, put one foot after the other, and finish. Push through the pain. It is only temporary.

And the most important lesson I have learned…

You can do anything you put your mind to – This is actually a psychological theory called Locus of Control which refers to what people perceive as determining factors of their life situation. Some feel it is all by chance and controlled by outside influences (the “life is a box of chocolates” wisdom from Forrest Gump’s mother.)  Some feel that they have control of their life and it is all determined by their own efforts and behaviors.

You have to believe that you can run a marathon before you can. You must know it as fact that whatever you put your mind to, you can do. This is called Intrinsic Locus of Control. [See The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer – Whitsett, Dolgener & Kole, for more information on the use of Locus of Control for marathon training. I used this book as my training guide for my first marathon.]

For years I settled into a mediocre life because I felt that I had no control over my circumstances. I was also terribly afraid of change and figured that I was better off if I just stayed where I was in life. Now, because of marathoning, I know I can change my life as well. I believe it can happen. Yes, it takes training, pacing, pain, and teamwork, but it can be done.

I am running my “life marathon” now and I am close to that finish line. I just have to remember to trust in the training and respect the distance.

I would be interested in hearing from readers about what you have learned from running. Leave me a comment and share.