Early this year, I shared a goal with you: I would run my first marathon on May 1.
Guess what? I didn't run it.
My training went well until I hit the double digits. I read up about marathon training, selected a plan for beginners and rose early several mornings a week to run. I did everything right, or so I thought.
I struggled to keep myself hydrated and fed properly while dealing with stomach issues on long runs. I fell 10 miles in to a 15-mile run, scraping and bruising my knees. I bonked during my 16-mile run, which is when I talked to Nancy about fueling and pace. (I was running too fast to sustain my pace over long distances, and I wasn't eating enough during my runs.)
I rebounded, had a wonderful 15-mile run, followed by a half-marathon in D.C. There, I pulled my hamstring and couldn't walk properly for three days. A sharp pain in my left tibia, which had been diagnosed a year ago as tendonosis, returned and worsened. After a few days of rest, in the midst of moving, I caught a sinus infection, which left me unable to run for a week. When I finally got back out there, my leg wasn't fully healed.
That day, as I hobbled home, I made the decision to drop from the full to the half marathon, and later, to defer my entry until next year. Friends who had also run marathons encouraged me through the tough times. One said she had only run as far as 16 miles before race day; another said he couldn't walk up stairs for two weeks after his first marathon.
Truth be told, I still could have run, but I likely wouldn't feel great today. There will always be another race, and I am accountable only to myself.
Last week, I met with an orthopaedist. After an X-ray and an exam, he determined I have suffered chronic stress fractures in my left tibia. They have mostly healed, which means I can still run shorter distances, but it's only a matter of time until I get another one. We're working to find the root of the problem. Until then, I'm doing a lot of walking and yoga. Truthfully, it's a great reminder to slow down.
Four weeks from now, I'll board a plane for Honduras, where I'll spend a week at a raw, vegan yoga retreat. It's my 30th birthday present to myself. That is a priority to me. What if I had run the race, injured myself more, and been unable to go on that trip?
Remember that quote I shared with you earlier this year? The one about not making a big deal about things?
"We don’t have to make such a big deal about ourselves, our enemies, our lovers, and the whole show." --Pema Chödrön
Over the last few weeks, I've returned to that quote. I've refused to get angry, sad, or even frustrated about not being able to run a full marathon right now. I didn't defer because I was scared, weak, or uncommitted. I did it because it was the right decision for my body, and no one gets to judge me for that.
I am still a runner.
I still respect myself.
I am still a fit and healthy woman.
I see this not as a failure but an evolution, a chance to learn more about myself and my body.
To everyone who did run the full marathon, congratulations. I wish I could have been there with you. I someday hope to cross that finish line after 26.2 miles. This is not that time.
I have another confession for you: I don't like racing. I am not a competitive person, I don't like crowds, and I don't like to run with other people. I like the meditative aspect of long runs, the feeling of accomplishment when I'm finished, and the internal and external strength that running awards me.
I'm giving up racing for now. I'll still do the occasional 5K or 10K for charity, but I would rather save money and pursue other things that make me happier.
Without a training schedule, I'm free to hike, take long walks, and ride my bike. I can join friends for a Spinning class or deviate from my normal fitness routine. I can even take rest days without worrying that I'm jeopardizing my progress.
Let my "failure" be a reminder to you: Small goals are worthy of celebration. Walking a 5K, running a mile, exercising for 10 minutes a day--those are all accomplishments of which you should feel proud. You don't have to run a marathon, cook everything you eat from scratch, or bench press your own body weight. I won't feel like a quitter for deciding to change my goal and listen to my body, and neither should you.
No one judges you but yourself, and really, cut yourself some slack! Whether you need to lose 100 pounds or you're just trying to maintain a 5-pound loss, we're all fighting the same fight, taking the same journey. We're in this together. My body is unique, and so is yours. What works for me won't necessarily work for you, and what motivates you might not be what inspires me to get off the couch and lace up my sneakers.
Have you ever set a goal for yourself, only to discover that it wasn't the right goal for you? Are you too hard on yourself?
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