So... I ran a half marathon last Saturday, the Akron Half (which I have run before and I love). I wasn't even planning on blogging about it because I didn't put in the work to run the distance and I was not happy with my time (seriously, I ran the same race in the same time when I was 7 months pregnant). This was because I was given the opportunity to enter for free one week before the actual race. Needless to say, I did not train for this event. I have run many half marathons, but at this point in my life Braxton and I run frequent short distances with some hills and Tabatas mixed in.
Even though this distance isn't new to me, it isn't too surprising that this race was filled with pain in my hips and quads (the result of fatigued muscles untrained for the endurance I was requiring of them) and the feeling of hardly moving forward. I finished feeling tired and a little disappointed.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. // Theodore Roosevelt
Even though I am living nowhere near how this quote is saying to live, I really admire the idea of this kind of life. In some ways I could look at this half as yet another race I did not train to my fullest ability for: a waste of ability and talent (I always remember late runner Steve Prefontaine's quote "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.") However, in this instance, I did not have a half marathon on my race calendar so doing this race was more about the "sweat and blood" to know "the great enthusiasms, the great devotions." This can apply to so many areas of our lives. We need to push ourselves to do difficult things, even when they are a fight.
3 Tricks (That I Used On Saturday) To Get Through Any Race
Positive Visualization Will Get You Where You Want To Go
There is value in pain and pushing limits. While I don't recommend running a half marathon without training, I do recommend doing something that will push your limits, something that is just so plain hard that all you can do is will yourself to finish by making finishing your only goal. During my race (and during every race I do) when I am having a hard time I visual my husband, Brian, at the finish line, smiling and clapping at my accomplishment. This achieves two things: mentally, it convinces my brain that I will cross that finish line, and physically, it convinces my body I am strong enough to finish because my brain is in charge.
Gratitude Changes Everything
I did something a lot of runners do, but I have not yet tried, to get me through the grueling middle miles of my half on Saturday. I dedicated individual miles to people in my life. I chose people who have been on my mind for one reason or another and used the time during that mile to think about, pray for, and be thankful for that specific person. It took my mind off the race and provided me with short-term goals within miles 5 through 9 of that daunting 13.1 miles.
I also used my time to remember how fortunate I was to be in this place, outside on a gorgeous September morning running, with my capable muscles and mind that I maintain nourished and trained enough to just get out there and do it, all time considerations out the window.
Walk-Run Is A Valid Racing Method
Mile 9 was a walk-run mile. I definitely promote walk-running as productive way to work up to and achieve what you don't think possible in your running. Olympic runner Jeff Galloway even trains new and seasoned runners alike in the Walk Run Walk Method. While I know it is a valid method, I still had to put my pride aside to do these short intervals of walking and running. Changing up the muscles I was using to move forward gave my running muscles just enough time to recover. Using intervals kept me motivated to continue running, as I was setting even tinier goals (30 seconds run, 30 seconds walk) to get through the whole race.
What have you done that was so hard you had only the goal of finishing in mind?
Hi. I'm Suzanna.
I like running outside, eating real food and crafting beautiful images. I am captivated by documenting everyday life–revealing what authentic, adventurous and lovers of life we all are.