A different goal

Hello. I’m currently procrastinating the 12 pages of reading I have to do for my Intellectual Property class for tomorrow by writing this. But it’s something that my writer soul needs to say for my runner soul.

I think I mentioned that I’m running a half marathon at the end of October. On Instagram (you can find me @the_running_diaries) I said I wanted to break 1:50 a couple of weeks ago. And the last month and a half, I’ve been training to do exactly that. But that’s no longer my goal.

It took me a long time to admit that I wanted to change the goal. At first, I was all in. But then school got crazy. The sheer amount of reading is staggering. My daily schedule is wildly unbalanced on Monday/Wednesday/Friday versus Tuesday/Thursday. Plus we have make-up classes scheduled at times when we wouldn’t otherwise have class (obviously). Add work, a new puppy, a house to take care of, laundry, cleaning, a boyfriend who deserves some of my love and attention, and life just became overwhelming.

Quick side note: Yes, I know that other people have far busier, far more hectic lives. But sitting next to someone with twice as much going on as me doesn’t make my ‘hectic’ any less. I’m just trying to be honest.

Basically, this craziness makes running fast and hard extra difficult. Because I’m in class so much, and they frown on you leaving class more than once maybe to pee, I am constantly struggling to stay hydrated. Those of you who drink a gallon of water, I salute you but school does not allow me to pee that much. It’s a fact. Also, I’m really struggling to get in enough calories before my runs after school because I can only bring so much food with me. This means that on Wednesdays, after my speed workouts, I’m toast. Tired, hangry, and dehydrated. And I still have to do homework.

This particular aspect came to head last week. I did mile repeats and while I nailed the pace on every single one, I felt awful for the rest of the night. I mean, I was nauseous no matter how much water I drank or how much I ate. Finally, around 8:30-9:00 I felt better, just in time to be really, really tired. And I thought to myself, Why am I putting my body through this?

And then this past weekend, I had a 12 mile run, my second one of this training cycle. The first one was a breeze. But this one was a struggle-fest. I could not settle into a rhythm mentally and I stopped my watch more than once. And I thought to myself, Why am I putting my mind through this?

Anyone whose run any distance they once thought impossible knows that the mind is the most important muscle. Your will, your mental strength, you need those to get to that finish line. It’s what got me a 10 minute PR in the marathon in June. I know I have the grit to do it.

Here’s the thing, and there’s no getting around it. My mind is training for a marathon but it’s not one that I can run. Every day, my mind is working at learning something complicated, nuanced, and damn important. It’s also working to keep my reptilian brain from panicking or melting down over stress about grades or failing or not knowing the answer when I get cold-called. Then it’s working to keep the scale shifted towards positive when I interact with the people in my life I love. And when I ask my mind to push on a run, frankly, it’s too damn tired.

If you’re feeling the same way, I see you. We are strong as hell.

Which brings me to my new goal for this half marathon. Yesterday, I had a 9 mile run. I turned on a podcast. I ran without worrying about pace. I focused on running so I felt strong. I ran the entire length of the monster hill (1.5-ish miles) without walking once. I finished that run with an 8:25 mile.

So my new goal is to run the half marathon feeling strong from the start to the finish. And to reward myself with an amazing donut from a local shop.

I also realized I care far more about breaking 4 hours in the marathon than I do about breaking 1:50 in the half. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to do both. But if I had to pick, I’d rather run a marathon. Call me crazy, I definitely am. And depending on how my next semester schedule shakes down, that might not be a feasible goal for this spring. If it’s not, I want to get to mile 23 of the marathon and feel strong.

Some people thrive off of numbers and data. I like my Garmin and my splits, don’t get me wrong. I think that numbers and my mind are too diametrically opposed for me to be motivated by hitting numbers. I want the feeling, the strength, the moment of deciding that yes, something is hard and hurts like hell but I’m doing it anyway. It doesn’t matter if that’s a 9:30 pace or an 8:25 pace.

Thanks for sticking around, beautiful humans. Until next time.

-Elizabeth

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