Thursday, July 12, 2012
Lately, I've been receiving a lot more comments on my daily blogs and I've continued to receive quite a lot of encouraging words from so many of you, as well as friends and family in my "real life" spheres. As you might imagine, there are words that begin to repeat themselves and stand out among the rest. I've learned that if a word or idea is repeated, it's probably important and worth investing some time into understanding.
There are three words that I repeatedly hear about myself and, in particular, my running these days: grit, tenacity and determination. Apparently, people admire these things. And, I'll tell you the truth...these words are music to a wannabe/prematurely injured rollergirl's ears.
Hearing these things said about me makes me want to work harder, reach further and dream bigger with my running. For that reason, I've assumed that I should be working toward getting stronger and faster and better at running. These are certainly noble goals. And a person needs goals to move forward.
But, last night, I had a moment where I stood naked before myself (intellectually, not literally) and asked myself, "Leah, what is your half marathon goal?" And was surprised to find that I didn't have a clear answer.
You see, I've always assumed my goal for my first half coming up in a few short months was to beat a certain time. I'm not trying to be an Olympian or anything. I'm a beginning runner and I get that...I was really just hoping to finish in less than 3 1/2 hours.
But something happens when you immerse yourself in running books and running magazines and running training programs and running SP teams. You start to feel very competitive...even if it's just with yourself. I am reading all about tempo runs and hill drills and pushing the body harder and faster. And I guess I got carried away with all of it.
I am notorious for advocating listening to my body, because I am coming back from EPIC injuries. So, certainly one of my foremost goals is to never get injured again. I've had quite enough hospital and P/T time for one person...enough for a lifetime actually. So, yes...I've been pushing my limits a bit...but not at the expense of my body. Yet.
Today, I was scheduled to run my first interval speed training workout. I don't know why this was making me nervous, but I was feeling uneasy. I've read you shouldn't even DO speed training until you have been running for an entire year. And I've also read you can't even hope to get faster without it. So...this is what led me to the ultimate question last night: IS my objective to just get faster?
Part of me felt compelled to say "yes" because of those three magic words. If I DON'T get faster and focus on getting better times, then aren't I just being lazy and not challenging myself? Wouldn't that be like wussing out and be the OPPOSITE of grit, determination and tenacity?
Well, what do these things even mean?
GRIT - noun - firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck
DETERMINATION - noun - the act of coming to a decision or of fixing or settling a purpose.
TENACITY - noun - holding or grasping firmly; forceful; stubborn or persistent; tending to stick or adhere
Last night, I allowed myself to think about the possibility of running my first half marathon purely for the enjoyment of it, with no regard for finish time. And I had to chide myself and say, "Leah...do you REALLY believe that if you run for enjoyment and finish a half marathon that anyone can accuse you of not having any grit, determination and tenacity? C'mon!"
I reached out to some friends on DailyMile and a fellow sparker (who also happens to be one of my biggest running inspriations), SANDIEGOJOHN, answered:
"When I decided to run my first marathon, my friend gave me the best advice. He said, 'If your goal is to finish the marathon, don't have another goal.' His point was that just running that distance was an amazing accomplishment and would be a shock to my body. And he was right. I ran it to experience it and that was enough. I waited until my second marathon to chase a specific time."
Then, I got one more comment that put some things into perspective for me:
"I am with John. Just enjoy it. Finishing is a great attainable goal. If it is your first you automatically PR. Set yourself up for success."
Wow. What WISE friends I have!
So, you know what I'm going to do??? I'm going to completely and totally focus on just finishing and enjoying every minute of "one of the most beautiful Autumn Marathon courses you will find anywhere. The course has been described as 'Enchanting' and 'Surreal' by participants! An amazing treat." WHY WOULD I WANT TO MISS THAT BECAUSE I'M WORKING TO NOT THROW UP???
Also, I'd like to enjoy the "fantastic post-race atmosphere. After the race, hang out in the Beautiful Park Setting of the Former Army Parade Grounds of Lawton Loop. Enjoy music, fire pits, a free post-race meal, and a magical atmosphere where people simply want to relax, catch up with new and old friends, and enjoy their accomplishment on a beautiful autumn day." As it happens, I DO have an old friend running this marathon that moved away a couple of years ago and I have missed her dearly. AND a new friend that I met on the running trail that is also running the half. WHY WOULD I WANT TO COMPROMISE SPECIAL TIME WITH THEM?
So, yeah...that's my official plan. This will change the way I train and will take a lot of pressure off. And, looking back at those definitions, I think I still fit the profile. All in all, I'm happy.
Now, let's get running!