Racing is something I have always shied away from for reasons you may or may not find familiar. I have a tendency to be very hard on myself (as many of us do!) and the thought of not only training for a race, but then having my time recorded for all to see was too much for me. If I heard that someone finished a 5K in 30 minutes I would think – “Could I do that?” “Is that a good time?” “Could I run it faster?” These were not calming positive thoughts! Then I read this New York Times article a while ago and it helped me to start thinking about races as something fun to do, and not something to win or lose. It got me really thinking about how to go out and enjoy the process without being so focused on the end result. So the first part of my personal challenge is to enjoy the process and not set a goal for a certain time or compare myself with others running the same race. I need to let go of the idea of perfection. I cannot judge myself (or anyone else) on how fast I run this race, I can only ask “Did I do my best?” as long as the answer is yes, then I should be very happy indeed.
Second comes the issue of training. If you are going to run any significant distance, you need to train for it. Training involves more than just running; It’s also about challenging yourself at times with a variety of workouts and backing off at times to rest and recover. For me, the backing off and resting have always been very hard to do. This idea of challenging ourselves to work hard, but also listening to our bodies (and minds) and resting when we need to, is a great analogy for life. My personal challenge? Make sure to not overdo it; when I’m tempted to keep going on a day that is supposed to be an ‘easy’ day, I need to follow my training program and stop!
Another other important lesson with training is the planning involved. It takes both time and a plan of action to get from point A to point B. No one goes from couch potato to runner overnight. Planning can help you to achieve almost any goal that you have set for yourself (as long as it is a SMART goal!). Most training schedules for running a half-marathon are from nine to twelve weeks long at a minimum. Since I am a huge planner, this isn’t as much of a big deal for me, but it’s something I need to do nonetheless. I have a plan and am following along week by week (including all of the rest and easy days!).
One more big component of all of this training and planning is what to eat for energy and recovery when running! For me this is the fun part. I have counseled other runners and triathletes about this before, but now it’s my turn to try out all of the options. Since food is very individual, I am testing out some different options to find out what works for me. I think I’ll save the details of this one for another post.