Miles High, Mentality Low…

…That’s pretty much been the story of my past 2 weeks.  I’ve now had 2 tough back-to-back long runs, doing 20 miles last weekend and attempting 18 this past weekend but only hitting 11.67.  Sure I’ve had some aches and pains on the runs, but something rather new for me has been the consistent negative talk creeping in during the runs.  I have not been able to get out of my own way, mentally speaking.  To say I’m frustrated is an understatement.  To say I’m getting stressed as my marathon is now just a mere 25 days away….well, here’s hoping that’s enough time to snap out of this!

You all know I post a lot on social media around running so not surprisingly some relevant articles started popping up in my news feed on Facebook. (I’ll spare you my conspiracy theories regarding Facebook’s infiltration into our lives i.e. I really think it’s reading my text messages!)

Feel Amazing While Running reminded me of the importance of reflection.  While I don’t have a Gratitude Journal, per se, this blog was founded when I took on my first big running adventure, the 2014 Boston Marathon, and has captured almost my full running “career.” Part of my delay in writing a post this week was I found some time to reread some of my posts and reflect on the awesome Journey I’ve had since taking up running.  This reflection has really helped me gain some perspective, mainly that these past 2 weeks do not define me and who I am as a runner.  Part of running is that it will be hard, and truthfully in some ways that is why I do it!  I know I’m a completely different person than I used to be.  The health and weight benefits are of course critical in building a long and happy life, but running has helped me find a whole new appreciation for my strength which has further helped me in all areas of my life, socially and professionally.  Physical strength you can build, but recognizing my mental strength and resilience has not always been my forte.  Guess what I learned reading about some of my past training? I have previously had sucky runs! Kudos to me that when I talk about running I am not focusing on the bad that I have been able to run through.  Generally speaking I talk about running with a sense of passion and motivation. The fact that I don’t immediately go to “Running=Bad” tells me that this is something I really enjoy and that it is something that gives me a real benefit.  It sounds so simple, but in recognizing this, and now writing this, I already feel like I’m gaining a different perspective.

I know I put a lot of pressure on myself, with this training schedule, in particular. It laid out 2 attempted 20+ mile runs, the second of which is supposed to be this coming weekend.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this coming weekend and admittedly have had some anxiety. What’s my plan? Do I still try to do this? How am I going to feel if I have a THIRD week of not meeting my goal? Am I really not meeting my goal?  Really “the goal” is to finish the Marine Corps Marathon; I’m going to be able to do that, right?  All signs of my training to date suggest yes.  While not perfect (perfect is boring!) I have stuck to training and overall should be ready unless I just use these next few weeks to regress to a bon-bon eating, story watching couch potato (hmmm….. kidding!)  But I think where I get caught up on myself is that last week my “plan” said to run 18 and I did not hit that mileage.  Sometimes I’m too concrete for my own good.  I sign up for races and then I immediately lay out my training schedule on my calendar.  I do this as a source of motivation, in addition to organization, but what if I don’t do what I’m supposed to do?  Does that mean I’m completely off the mark for my ultimate goal?  It’s not like I’m skipping 5 long runs in a row!  I find that if I don’t hit my miles or I miss a midweek run, seeing  my incomplete training task floating on my calendar makes me feel a bit like a failure.  I have realized feeling that way is not particularly fair to myself, and certainly propagates way more negative talk than I want.   I’m really considering this in looking forward to my next marathon and I need to find a way to organize a training plan but in a way that will leave less room for feeling as if I have failed.  Because I finally am realizing I am not failing.  Overall I am a HUGE success!  I originally set out to run one marathon and now I’m training for a second.  While many folks do way more than that, for me that’s a great accomplishment and I need to regain that sense of pride.

My run buddies have been invaluable this training season. Without them, there are many weekend runs I would not have woken up for and I either would have slept in and gotten myself into the pickle of running in 90 degree, 100% humidity weather or making excuses to put the miles off until the next day, or worse yet put them off to never!  That said, this weekend I’m going to break away from my pack and hit the road solo again.  I miss going out on the run alone and being able to think without a worry of who I’m with and what pace they are trying to run.  My goal will be to run long with myself and for myself.  I don’t care about the time. I honestly never have. It’s nice to see my speed increase but the reality is while I’ve been pretty good about training this summer, I’m not so regimented that I’m expecting miracles with this marathon finish (sorry folks, but I won’t be winning!)  But what is important to me is that I am able to enjoy the experience.  I want to enjoy the final part of this training journey and then show up on marathon day feeling mentally ready to tackle this next challenge and with a positive attitude about looking towards the future and my next big race. I also need to have my head in the game because this course runs by all the monuments in the D.C. area so my run selfie game has to be on point!  I’m proud of the commitment I make to myself when I sign up for a race and I have worked too hard this summer to get down on myself now.

As beneficial as this reflection has been, I’ll end with some pics from the weekend and early this week because it certainly has been a busy one!  While running has been a source of fun for me, so is finding other things to keep life fun!

So even thoughIMG_9974 Saturday’s run didn’t go as planned, I still needed to take a few pics along the way.  I love that the selfie is really just me in focus, ha! Unintentional, promise!  The second one I thought came out kind of cool.  We ended up on the Minuteman Bikeway starting in Cambridge and running towards Bedford.  It’s a great path that I hadn’t run in quite awhile.  No one I was with had ever run over here, so I was happy to be able to share this new route with everyone!

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Later in the day on Saturday, I went to my friends’ event for their non-profit, Empower Spinal Cord Injury.  It was an adaptive mountain biking clinic and I got to try out this bad boy!  Let me tell you, awesome stuff!  I have never apparently done legit mountain biking. I tried getting on a 2-wheeled bike and the fact I fell in the flat parking lot told me that I should probably go ahead and not attempt a legit trail on that piece of equipment.  This trike, however, was incredible! It’s still leg powered but I went over some pretty tough stuff including rocks and tree roots.  Looking forward to the next chance I can try to get out on the trail with something like this!

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Sunday was Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s Set Sail event to raise money for our adaptive sports and recreation program.  I was there all day with my dog, Scrimmage, who is also a therapy dog regular at the hospital to play with folks in the Bark Park.  The event was a success and also a ton of fun! We also got to snap this photo of our Race for Rehab Alums.  Few things are more motivating when you’re in a running funk than seeing past teammates and fellow runners.

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Lastly, I started of my week with the final Cardio Pilates on the Greenway in Boston.  It was an awesome summer series run every 2 weeks and I made it to every class.  Now that night is setting sooner, it was a neon glow theme, complete with glow bracelets and necklaces.  By the time we finished we were basking in the city lights which made for a couple cool shots.

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Alright folks, I’m looking forward to a great post after this weekend’s long run.  Until next time, happy running!

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