The half marathon 9 mile training loop last Monday did not fail to provide hot and humid conditions for the runners and walkers. There seemed to be a few more frowns and looks of anguish than smiles as we passed each other on the road. One added mile of distance per week can approach the breaking point for some . We begin to doubt our sanity taking on the feat of the Parkersburg Half Marathon and ask ourselves "what in the world was I thinking?"
There aren't too many veteran runners and walkers who haven't had those thoughts cross their minds when training for a distance race. Tackling 13.1 miles is a big undertaking on the individual, their families and their lives in general. Getting through a training program takes significant discipline and sacrifice. Our bodies get sore, we develop injuries, we become obsessed with what we eat, and even schedule social events around our training runs. I sometimes get asked, "Is it worth it?". This answer is undoubtedly "yes".
We are "over the hump" in the training run distance. This is the point where the mental toughness comes in to convince ourselves that we can accomplish the task we have set out to do. In the midst of the drudgery of the discomfort that comes with increased miles, there is a sense of accomplishment getting through it. Even more rewarding is partaking in the experience with others who share our spirit and goals. We meet some incredible people and develop friendships that enrich our lives.
"Runners always look so miserable" others tell me. I laugh to myself because it probably looks that way from the outside. What they don't realize is that we are actually having fun. We laugh together and share stories that make the miles more tolerable. Sometimes we don't talk at all, but feel content that our buddies are by our side. Running takes me to a place of peace where I am focused on my surroundings, and my thoughts drift far away from the pressures of work and everyday routine. It is an outlet that I look forward to and has become an important part of my life.
So when you ask yourself "what in the world was I thinking", remember that at some point you had the vision of completing the Parkersburg Half Marathon. Stick with your commitment. If you have not yet signed up for the half marathon, now is the time to do it. This will keep you motivated and focused on your goal. In the weeks leading up to a race, I envision myself crossing the finish line at my goal time. This vision becomes as much a part of my training as the daily workouts. It doesn't always become a reality but is a big part of the mental preparedness much needed for a distance race.
For novice runners and walkers, Monday's ten mile course may be unchartered territory. Trust yourself and your training. Put on your headphones or whatever you need to keep you going through the distance. Run/walk alongside your friends and support each other. As our good friend Rick Brown would say "keep on movin". See you Monday morning at 8am at the City Park.