What I learned from NOT running a half-marathon

Back in January I embarked on what I called the “Half-Marathon Adventure.” I had only run my first 5K a few months earlier, but after hearing an inspiring story at a New Year’s Eve party I decided that could jump up the next day and start training for a half-marathon. I did some research, I came up with a training plan, signed up for a race, and hit the ground running (no pun intended…).  A few weeks and 6 miles in, I was falling apart. I was exhausted and sick, which ultimately led to me being frustrated and angry.  I never did run that half-marathon.

I was a first-year teacher so I kept blaming my sickness on that, but I realized after some time that I had pushed myself. I kept thinking of what others could accomplish . Instead of listening to MY body, I kept comparing what I couldn’t do to what others could do and I ran myself ragged because of it. For months I hadn’t been back in a normal running routine. I kept setting expectations that are way too high and disappointing myself. I kept telling myself “I need to go to the gym and I need to run 2 miles.” It wouldn’t happen, then I’d get angry. I was getting sucked into that all-or-nothing approach and I knew it, but I didn’t know how to stop it! Mostly because I had been on such a roll, running a lot had become the norm and I didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t do that any more and that I had to start at square one.

About a month ago my boyfriend gave me the best running advice anyone could have given me. I get very obsessed with running schedules and special plans. I always need a plan. He told me that I just need to run. Get my butt out there and run! Run as much as I can, then run a little bit farther. So I went to the gym for the first time in months and for the first time ever without a plan. I don’t think I ran more than a half-mile and I definitely wasn’t there more than 20 minutes, but I showed up and I did something. That’s better than what I had been doing – nothing! I told myself I’d do this three times a week. Within a couple weeks my distances were increasing and getting easier. Just last week I ran two miles and it was so easy! On the flip side, today I ran only a mile and felt like I was going to die. But you know what? That’s what my body can handle and it’s fine. I’m still doing a great job.

Obviously I’ve “given up” on my half-marathon goal for this year, but is it really giving up? No. I think I’ve just become realistic. I tried something new, realized it was too much, and learned a lot about running (and myself) along the way. So 2011 will not be the year I run a half. Will there ever be a year I run a half? I’m not sure. It might just not be something my body can handle, and I’m not going to push it if it can’t. Instead I’m going to be proud of the things that I CAN accomplish, no matter what anyone else around me can do.

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Filed under Half-Marathon Adventure, Running

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