Hey Healthy Happier Bear readers! I’m Heidi from Life in Pink. I have a long convoluted history with running. I started running in high school on the track and field team and later the cross country team but was never the fastest runner. Needless to say I didn’t pursue running in college and hardly ran at all except on rare occasion. When I moved to DC after college, eventually I got stuck in an office with no windows and 3 other government relations coordinators at a thankless firm. It was my unhappiness there that inspired me to sign up for my first marathon.
Tough Lesson #1: Train Hard I researched training plans briefly, and just hit the register button when the Marine Corps Marathon opened up. Loving to run sometimes isn’t enough to get you to put one foot in front of the next for 26.2 miles. I didn’t train well for that first marathon. I didn’t train hard. I trained half heartedly. And if there’s one thing you don’t want to do half heartedly friends? It’s train for a marathon. That wall? Instead of mile 20, it comes at mile 15. That bus that picks up stragglers? It’ll be nipping at your heels around mile 18. But I accomplished my goal of simply finishing. Tough Lesson #2:Training Takes Time For my second marathon, I decided to take the time to train properly. Seven am runs to beat the grueling DC summer heat became a well versed habit. I did hill repeats on Capitol Hill and I cross trained with lunch time spin classes. Regardless, committing to my training and giving up those Friday nights out paid off when I shaved over an hour off of my previous marathon time.
Tough Lesson #3: Have A Cheer Squad Not every race goes perfectly. Whether it’s a 5k, a half marathon or a marathon, having family there with band aids when a blister is forming at mile 19, or even just someone to hug you at the end, family and friends make a world of difference. I ran my hometown race in Burlington, VT in 2009 and again in 2010 and set my marathon PR in 2009 with my dad and grandfather cheering me on at the finish. At mile 20, just before running by my grandparent’s house, my aunt texted me and asked where I was. My response? Mile 19, need Band-Aids. Seriously, it was like a race car team changing my tires before I went back out on the course. It was amazing. But seriously? I’ve run races where there’s no one there thanks to my husband’s US Army training, and I’ve run races where I have a whole team of cheerleaders – and having the cheerleaders is always more rewarding.
Tough Lesson #4 It’s All About the Attitude After my amazing PR and the elation that came from that at Vermont City Marathon 2009, I registered for it again. It was a beautiful race, if you’ve never been to Vermont? Go. Visit. Fall in love. Run the Marathon up there – the finish line next to Lake Champlain is one of the most beautiful. I registered for the race after Adam and I moved to CT in Fall 2009. Race day came, and I did not feel confident. I ran the race anyhow. How could I not? No one really wants to DNS an expensive race that you traveled to and took time off of work for. But I used myself as a mental punching bag for a good 15 miles. Everything I could have done wrong, I did. Marathons are not just physically challenging, they’re mental. You can train all you want but if you’re head isn’t in the race? You’re not going to have fun and above everything else, running and racing should be fun.
It’s not about the distance, it’s not about your time. It’s about being mentally strong. It’s about being confident. It’s about the reward – finishing. No matter what distance you run don’t feel like because you’re not running marathons or ultras or triathlons, that you’re not as accomplished as others. Stop comparing yourself and just be proud of yourself. I’ve taken these lessons not just in my running, but in every day life. Because ultimately attitude is everything and having a positive one will not just get you through 26.2 miles, but also through any other situation in life. After my 4th marathon, I took a break. Do I want to run another? Sure. Five is better than four right? But right now, I’m not at a place in my life where I can commit to the training, the long runs, the miles, and the pain in my knees. Knowing that leaves me in a better place to tackle the distance in the future.
Thanks again for the opportunity to share my lessons with your readers! -Heidi