Today was my last long run prior to the race. Now I begin two weeks of tapering down to resting a few days before the race. It’s funny that a 90 minute run now seems like a short run and a gift. There was a time that 90 minutes was a real stretch run for me. I remember struggling in the summer to hit the 90 minute target on vacation. I used to average 3 miles and under on my short runs, which took just over 30 minutes. Now I average 60 minutes most days and about 5 miles. I find those days to be easy runs. It’s funny how things change when you put your mind to something and set some strong goals. Honestly, without the goal of running this half marathon, I’m not sure I’d even be back to running after my stress fracture.
How exactly does the right goal help? It’s been my target for what I am trying to accomplish. It’s what I’m shooting for and aiming to accomplish. It provides me a strong layer of motivation and focus.
Today my determination was put to the test. Yesterday, I ran close to 6 miles in the pouring, cold rain. I was drenched and cold. I didn’t have enough time to properly stretch and foam roll because I had to get to work. Today, I was facing 12-13 miles and knew my legs would be tired. I wasn’t expecting the pain to hit my bad leg before mile one was even complete. I actually had a moment of panic and thought of calling for a pick up or turning around and walking home. The pain was eerily familiar and in that same spot. But, I knew this was my last long run prior to tapering and I really had wanted to get it done. I kept going a bit, but the pain was getting worse. I was almost in a total panic at this point. I couldn’t have come this far only to have this hit me two weeks out from my race. Finally, I had to stop and walk. I decided to stretch right there on the road and see if it helped. I stretched out my quad and hip and then decided to try again. I vowed to go super slow and easy and see if it loosened up. Thankfully it did and I got the run done! I was super proud and happy to have completed the run and not be in any pain. Honestly, without the GOAL of my race in two weeks and the GOAL of the last long run, I truly don’t believe I would have continued. I would definitely have turned right back around and gone home.
The goal was my motivation today and it made me try to do something that would allow me to get the run in. The training plan also provided me strong motivation as I knew this was it, the last long run prior to tapering. There was something so exciting about knowing I was in the home stretch. This made me realize why I have failed so many times before to reclaim my health. I’ve never set a goal other than one based on the total number of pounds I would lose. Today I finally realized I’ve been setting the wrong kind of goals for myself. My goals were actually too narrow and based on the wrong thing. You see, I just set a goal to be a certain weight and when I didn’t reach it I felt like a failure. There really was nothing to celebrate along the way because I never was able to hit my unrealistic target weight. Had I set a broader goal, like being able to run a half marathon, followed by a full marathon, I would likely have had more success.
At this point, I don’t even really get on the scale much. I weigh in just once a week now just to be sure I’m around the same weight with no major fluctuation up. I used to weigh myself every single day, sometimes twice and then fret about it all day. I don’t measure myself more than once a month, if at all. I can generally tell by how my clothes fit how I am doing. My broader goals have freed me from the confines of the minutia of weighing, measuring and fretting. I measure my success now by how I meet the requirements of my training plan. Did I get all the runs in and meet time targets? Did I meet my heart rate targets? This is something I struggle with. I am averaging above the 140 target for most runs, but have given myself a pass on that. I am running comfortable at 146-150 bpm and decided it’s just not worth stressing over.
My broader goal also motivated me to connect with a great nutritionist who has helped me learn how to fuel my longer runs. I’ve tried my whole life to avoid vegetables at all costs. Now that I know it is the fuel I need to meet my goals for running, I’ve been slowly learning to add vegetables to my diet. I’m eating things I thought I’d never eat. I even finally tried salmon. I’m noticing how I feel on runs and track it directly back to my nutrition. Isn’t it amazing what the right goal can do!
Once this race is behind me, I plan to start shooting for my next goal. I will spend the rest of the winter running in heart rate zones trying to build some speed. Then in the spring, I will begin to get ready for the full marathon distance. I will continue to add more vegetables into my daily diet and learn new and exciting ways to cook them. I think I’m finally on the path to wellness. Hope you are too!