Wednesday, October 9, 2013

5 Things I Learned While Training for a Half Marathon

Well here we are just three days away from race day. It's hard to believe its really time already. I feel like I've been training forever. It has actually been a long time. I started training in spring 2012 originally planning to run that fall. Then I got pregnant and decided to wait until this year. I started training again at the beginning of July when Reagan was about 3 months old. Throughout my training I learned a lot about myself as a runner. Here are five things I learned from training that I thought were interesting enough to share.

1. I don't love distance running.
I sort of knew this anyway, but somehow I hoped that I would grow to love it more. Don't get me wrong- I love being a runner. I love accomplishing things I didn't think I could. I enjoy the feeling of having completed a good, hard run. I especially love noticing myself getting better and better. I do not love devoting so much of my time to running when I'd rather be with my family or just doing other things. I don't love waking up early on weekends because that's the only time I have 2 hours to spend running. Surprisingly, it's not the 2 hour run that bothers me, it's trying to schedule it with everything else we have going on on weekends and what I'm missing while I'm gone.

2. Anything becomes less fun when it's an obligation.
I enjoyed running way more before I "had" to do it for training. Instead of running because I feel like it or because it's a nice day, I'm running because it's required. If I don't, I'll be ill-prepared for the race or risk injury. I have to schedule runs even when it's inconvenient, run when I'm not feeling well, run when my baby had me up half the night... because I have to. It starts to be something I resent for taking me away form morning snuggles, interrupting my social plans, forcing me to do something I don't feel up for doing. Even though I obligated myself, it's still an obligation. I much prefer running for fun. This is also still pre-race, so maybe I'll enjoy the race enough to obligate myself again sometime.

3. Expect the unexpected. Nothing goes according to plan.
I planned to run this race a long time ago. I thought once I was cleared to resume normal exercise after Reagan was born that I'd be ready to start running. Well, I was. Reagan had different plans though. I figured she'd be sleeping a lot and it would be easy to let her sleep in a bouncy seat or the bassinet in our pack-n-play while I ran on the treadmill. That didn't happen. She's not a good sleeper. It took forever just to get her on a nap schedule and even now her naps vary in length depending on the day. Beyond that, the training I was able to manage was interrupted by a random mid-summer upper respiratory infection which left me with a hacking cough for about 2 months, an infected toe which required antibiotics and about a week with no running, and while I'm fairly accustomed to doing most daily activities on little to no sleep, running any distance isn't one of them. When I went out for my 10 mile training run I had a total of 6 hours of sleep during which Reagan woke up three times. It didn't go well. These are all things I couldn't have {and didn't} anticipate. They were difficult to work through and I know they've negatively impacted my training. Fortunately, I only set out with a goal of finishing the race, and I'm positive I can manage that.

If those things weren't enough, now there is a serious threat of rain for race day. I'm not sure what the threshold is for cancellation due to weather but I imagine it's pretty high. There would be a whole lot of angry people if they cancelled for sprinkles. Cancelation would be the worst case scenario because it would have all been for nothing and I'd lose my entry fee. I can handle running in the rain. The downside to that is that Josh and the girls won't be there. While Reagan is still very young, Carsen is really into running. She loves it. She always wants to go running with me when I go, and that's her very favorite thing to do when we play outside. All along, from the very beginning of my training, I wanted her to see me finish the race. That's what I envisioned when I needed motivation. My girls are 99% of my reason for running in the first place. It's going to take a lot of wind out of my sail if they aren't there. Crossing the finish line with no one there and just getting in my car and going home would be a serious buzz kill. It is what it is. You just can't plan this kind of stuff.

4. Logistics are the hardest part.
If you think running 13.1 miles sounds intimidating, you don't know the half of it {terrible pun intended, ha!}. When I think about this race, I'm much less concerned about the actual running than I am about transportation and parking, what I'm going to eat for breakfast and when, where Josh and the kids will park, what time they need to arrive, if I pumped enough for Reagan to eat from the time I need to leave waaaaay early in the morning until I see her again after the race, where they'll be after the race and if they'll get to see me cross the finish line, what if it rains?? And those are just a few. If all I had to do was run, I'd be fine. It's all the other stuff that makes it complicated and stresses me out. If I have any nerves on race day it will be over logistics.

5. You can do it.
I never thought I could run 13.1 miles. For a long time I didn't think I could run 5 miles. Only when I put my mind to trying did I realize that I most certainly can. That's not to say it's easy, just that it mostly just takes deciding to do it in order to be able to. When I see people much older than I am, or much younger, or heavier, or pushing 3 kids in a jogger, or missing limbs out running, rest assured it can be done. If they can do it, you can do it, and I can do it. Maybe it's a cliche, but I honestly believe that. Try. You'll see.

Time to chug some water and get some sleep. Wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading this, Em. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you that it won't rain and that your family will see you cross the finish line. But if not, you should be extremely proud of yourself and that will just give you motivation to run another half marathon, or maybe a full marathon! Good luck, I'll be thinking of you and waiting for pictures of you with your shiny medal ;-)


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