I remember my first marathon clearly. It was September 2013 and it was in Sydney. It was a LONG. HARD. ROAD. Actually it was a LONG. HARD. LONELY. ROAD. I remember when I decided that I would run a marathon. It was just after I had finished my first half marathon at the Dubbo Stampede in Country NSW. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean, I had run a half, wasn’t that the next logical step? Little did I really know what that involved.
So I asked a friend who had actually run a few marathons for a training plan and I tried to follow it as best as I could. I had a pretty good fitness base, and I guess I had a pretty good running base, but I wasn’t used to the different ‘types’ of running that I should be using in training and so, about six weeks out I ended up injured with shin splints from a sprint session which I ran too close to a long run day on really really tight calves. I was also out twice during my marathon training needing surgery for issues non-running related and I really didn’t know how I was going to get there.
Top that off with the fact that I had decided to raise money for a charity and so I was REALLY committed and I actually felt like there was no backing out.
I remember the feeling of despair after having come so far in my training, only to be struck down with an injury. I would do anything and everything to make sure that it would get better, but of course that didn’t mean no running! Although, I was actually a good girl and I did take a FULL week off running and swam, although I was recommended longer.
Fast forward to marathon day, and I remember the highs of being out on the course. I was SO excited and the feelings of joy and pain and elation and agony. And I remember the finish shute. I remember the absolute sense of ACCOMPLISHMENT. That I FINISHED something. That I was a winner in my kids eyes. I had a smile from ear to ear and I will NEVER forget that feeling.
Now I am wiser and more experienced in the journey, so the second time around seems very different to the first. The best part of this marathon journey is that I am not alone. I am taking almost 1700 running mums with me on this journey, plus my family and friends. But the pressure is still there, idly sitting in the background. Pressure on myself. Pressure to perform, and for me, pressure to reach a PB time. I know that the aim is to finish, and running a marathon is an amazing thing in itself, but I am always so hard on myself and when it comes to something I want, I pretty much go after it and don’t look back.
This journey has had some amazing ups and some pretty amazing downs. The anxiety of running a marathon or even a half marathon gets me every time. Wondering if I can make it and can I make it uninjured and actually enjoy the journey. It always hits me about now. 4 1/2 weeks out from marathon day. I’m tired. My body is tired, I am working a three day a week job and raising a family of three children and a husband and running the website and facebook group as good as I can, but the anxiety of the end goal sits idle in the background.
Every time I go out for a session my mind fights with wether I can do it or not. And every time, I end up doing it. I know I CAN, so why do I doubt myself? I find myself starting to get anxious on a wednesday night, knowing that Thursday is my threashold run and Sunday is my LONG run. This weeks long run is the furthest I have ever run in training. 34km. After speaking to my coach last week, I know this is something I need to do on my own. Just like most of my long runs have been this time around, bar a few that I have roped a friend into coming for some of the time with me.
There is something spiritual about the long run. I go normally when the sun is still hidden and the night sky is above me, and I listen to the sound of my footsteps. I think about the journey so far, who has contributed, what this ACTUALLY means to me and why I am doing it. I feel my breath and pray. I listen to my body and I push it to the limits. I know that I can finish and I know that I am STRONG and DETERMINED and ABLE. And then I hit the final few kilometres, when sometimes it all seems too hard and I PUSH. I reach in somewhere deep down and I PUSH. I push not only to get home, but to feel that strong finish that I will be wanting come marathon day. I say in my head, you are STRONG, DETERMINED and ABLE again until I round that bend towards my home. I stop and I breathe. Sometimes I cry. A sigh of relief, but a sigh of accomplishment and joy that I conquered.
There are so many unknowns in training for a marathon. Not only do you have to allow your body to adapt, you have to allow your mind to conquer. Your mind will want to give up before your body does.
Train your mind and let it empower you and run strong to the finish line.