Running a marathon has been a goal of mine since high school. As a cheerleader, I can recall standing next to my squad while cheering on the runners of the first P.F. Chang’s Rock & Roll marathon here in Phoenix and admiring their strength and grit.
Later in my twenties I bought the book, ‘The Non-Runner’s Guide to Running A Marathon”, and envisioned all ways I would be different in order to run a marathon.
I would be a non-smoker.
I would be disciplined.
I would be in the best shape of my life.
I would believe in myself.
I lost sight of that goal in 2012- the year my father died, the year after the divorce, the year of…well, loss. Loss in innumerable ways.
But then last year- in January of 2019- I accomplished my first half marathon- and set my sights on the 26.2 miles that my 23-year old self, that my 16-year old self dreamed about.
Training this past holiday season was difficult. I pushed myself to extremes on weekends during my scheduled ‘long runs’- 12 miles, 14 , 16 , 12 , 12 . I trained with a friend who was both faster and stronger than me, and instead of listening to my intuition and body, I struggled to keep up. I filled up on sugar and adjusted my nutrition to make up to the extra miles too late. I sacrificed my sleep schedule due to the busy holiday season.
And (unsurprisingly) I injured myself. The Sunday before Christmas found me hobbling, my knees unable to adapt to the pressure I put them through. Visiting urgent care, going for X-rays, limping around on crutches, and saying good-bye to my long-term goal.
I sat down on Jan. 7th- two weeks before the run was supposed to take place- resigned to let go of this obsessive drive to accomplish this goal and made a list of what I had learned:
- Honor your intuition. Recognize when you are feeling something and ACT ON IT (or rather, DON’T ACT).
- Rest is as important as training.
- Nutrition can make or break you.
- LOVE your body enough to know when it is feeling off.
- White space on your calendar is KEY.
- Hobbies are only fun if you are still having fun.
- Don’t do things you hate (duh).
As I let go of this performance goal- my 5:45 time aim, my 13:09-minute-mile plans and my lists and my scheduling and my check boxes, I began to think about all the ways I push myself to DO or to BE in exchange for my own love and self-acceptance. Performing and perfectionism are two pillars I cling to in order to award and reward myself with love and approval.
But I’m ready to lay this down now.
I’m through with having to DO or BE someone other than I am in order to be enough for myself.
I’m remembering to breath, making fewer commitments, and accepting that down time and play and laughter and sleep are more important than the to-do’s, and the striving and the achieving.
And I’m really proud of that.
I learned a lot about myself through this journey.
This past Sunday, I decided to show up for the run, with my knee brace and my audio-book, and just power-walk beside my brother-in-law for as long as I felt like it- and without injury.
Wouldn’t you know it?
I walked the whole damn thing.
Without injury. Without self-judgement. And with a whole lot more grace for myself and my journey and the beauty of each passing moment. I shed some tears once I crossed that line- for the girl I’ve been and the woman I am, and finding peace in between the striving.
And now it’s time for rest.