Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What I've Learned

Well, the Runner's World summer run streak is coming to a close. It's crazy how daunting the streak seemed in the beginning, and now how short it seems in retrospect.

39 days of constant running (37 at the time I write this) has taught me more than a couple lessons. Lessons about running, lessons about stamina, lessons about perseverance, and lessons about myself.

I was uncertain how much pressure I could put on myself during this streak. I was afraid if I risked injury, I wouldn't be able to begin marathon training in July. (OMG that's this month, guys!) I was afraid if I pushed too hard or too far, I wouldn't be able to make it without a rest day.
Every. Single. Day. BOOM!
But after the first two weeks of keeping my mileage laughably low, I realized that a single mile can be a rest day. I wouldn't plan to never take a rest day during regular running/training, but on a streak like this, I found an easy mile or two after pushing myself was just what my legs needed.

I realized I'm stronger than I think. I learned that I can transcend discomfort and pain - like during the week I was dealing with shin splints before they miraculously went away - and go beyond my goal. I was ready to call it quits there, and I'm so glad I chose to keep going.

I learned I could set my goal for 3 miles and then tack on one or two more if I was careful about my pace early on.
Negative splits and an additional mile? I feel like a beast!
I learned that there is a place in this world for treadmills.

I learned that focusing on short distances for awhile can drastically improve your pace...I can now run a mile well under 9 minutes without even feeling like I'm working for it; before the streak, that was unheard of.

I learned (or relearned) that working out consistently makes me sweat like a bear. It's downright embarrassing.
Mm, nose sweat!
I learned that I have a huge group of friends - runners and non-runners alike - who are willing to cheer me on, put up with daily facebook posts, and generally pet my ego when I need it.

I learned that when I set a goal and don't want to miss it, I'll do anything, including running at nearly midnight or running through a torrential Florida downpour, lightning included.

After a full day in the airport/on planes, people!
Speaking of, I learned that a good spouse will run with you at 10pm in the pouring rain, even though he's not a runner, just because he loves you.

I learned that refrigerated towels are a luxury I don't want to live without.
This is so glorious, it needs a new word to describe it.
I learned the importance of cross-training, personal accountability, walking-the-walk, and keeping promises you make to yourself.

Mostly, I learned that the limits I've set on myself in the past were simply abstract creations that I put in my own way. If I want something, I can achieve it. Will this lesson stick with me? It's hard to say; some days you feel like Superman (or Superwoman) and can run a fast four miles without a thought, and others even two miles seems daunting.

But the more times you force yourself to face the daunting reality of...whatever...the more successful you'll become. There were days when I was too sore/too hot/too tired to do much more than a mile, but I went anyway and always felt better afterward. Eventually, you remember that, and your current discomfort makes you crave a run even more.
This may be my new mantra.
The challenging runs taught me more than anything else, because I conquered them. I finished them victoriously. The harder a run felt, the more likely I was to add some distance at the end of it, even if just to prove to myself that I am stronger than the whiny voice in my head.

We learn something from the hard runs. Life is a freaking classroom, people. I couldn't plan a lesson as flawless as this run streak.

And now, with the streak due to end in two days, I find the most valuable gift this streak has given to me was a renewed sense of belonging. I am a runner. I belong here. And I feel confident and ready to tackle marathon training. This challenge set me up perfectly to take on the next.

And when in doubt, I can now look back on countless difficult runs during these 39 days alone and think, "Hell, I can do it. I can do anything."

What have you accomplished that you never thought you could?
What has running taught you?
What is the craziest weather you've ever run in?

*If you didn't click the link for Remy's "So I Went for a Run", do it. It's so heart-wrenching and inspiring. Here it is again.



  1. I am training for a half marathon ... I used to hate running more than a mile (and the only time I liked that was at school or soccer)
    No matter how much you think you hate it, or think you need to stop, you can keep going.
    Pouring rain that meant I couldn't even see without wiping off/shading my eyes

    1. The worst part about running in the rain was that the rainwater messed with my time I'll be sure to wear a hat!

  2. I remember the girl who was unsure and wanted to take a day off from the streak. Her friends encouraged her to tough it out and get in at least a mile. I remember her uncertainty about the streak and wanting to give in. What I read today is a girl who has in a few short weeks experienced tremendous growth and maturity. You have learned a great deal about yourself and you will be a better, stronger, more confident, and much tougher person. My guess is there is a little more bounce in your step, and that marathon off in the future doesn't seem quite as daunting as before. So incredibly proud of you. Keep it up!!

    1. It's unbelievable how much can change in just a little over a month. Thanks for all the support!

  3. Refrigerated towels???? That sounds awesome!! I am going to try this at home :)

    "Your legs aren't giving out, your mind is giving up" was my mantra when I first started running. I used to tell myself that over and over and over again throughout the couch to 5k program. I still use it sometimes, it's such a great quote!

    1. The towels are just barely damp and in the fridge...SO refreshing!