I am currently in training for my first marathon. It’s coming up quickly in October; the 2019 Chicago Marathon. The long runs are getting long at this point. I’m getting into uncharted territory, as in running longer distances than I ever have before.
A few days ago, on my first ever 16 mile run, the self doubts were creeping in big time. Why am I doing this? What if I can’t do this? If 16 miles is hard how am I ever going to run another 10.2?! Between mile 14 and 16 every little twinge in my joints, and ache in my muscles was telling me to stop.
It took an immense amount of will power to finish that run. I was glad I had finished, but still I felt apprehensive. Yes I had finished the miles I had set out to run, but it sure wasn’t pretty. How on earth was my body going to handle 26.2 miles in only 7 more weeks? I was afraid of the pain, and not being tough enough to push through it when the time came. I was afraid of my next long run. 18 and 20 mile training runs are looming very closely on the approaching horizon.
The next morning I awoke to only the slightest soreness. I was surprised by this. I thought of how I had struggled to finish the run, as if I had reached the edge of my capacity to endure. The minimal soreness was telling another story though. And then it hit me. A lightbulb moment. I have been training for months. My body is just fine. This was a mental challenge, and I passed the test.
I have heard it said that long distance running is 90% mental. I am starting to understand the truth of that. Yes, you have to physically train. A lot. There is no substitute for that. Still, nothing is going to prepare you for those mentally challenging moments; the fatigue and soreness; like knowing you have conquered them before. This is the lesson of the long run, and I’m starting to learn it.
“Every single one of us possesses the strength to attempt something he isn’t sure he can accomplish.” – Scott Jurek
Every long run is challenging. At some point along the way you will want to stop. And every time you push on, you are training your mind as well as your body. Pushing yourself through a tough run teaches you mental strength and toughness; for marathon day, and for life. I started to feel a lot better about where I am at in my training. Yes, the long runs are getting more challenging but I am tough enough to handle them. One mile at a time. And every run will make me stronger than I was before. I let go of the fear, and decided to just embrace this part of the journey.
Now, I have a marathon to train for…
Have you struggled with long runs? How have you pushed through the tough times? Leave a comment! I would love to hear more about your journey with running and/or marathon training!
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Keep Roaming! – Tina