Lenten Commitment

Photo Cred: Wendy Shulik

I was raised in the Episcopal church, and although I’m still not sure exactly what I believe, I have found that its liturgical rituals have settled deep into my bones. And the season of Lent has become one of my favorite times in the liturgical calendar.

Maybe it’s because my birthday is April 20th so spring has always been my favorite. Or maybe I love it for the same reason as I love training – spring and Lent are both periods of anticipation – anticipating the pinnacle day in the church’s calendar, Easter and the best time of all, summer.

The season of Lent has another great tradition – that of fasting or sacrifice or commitment (however you choose to observe it). It’s another chance to hold yourself to that new year’s resolution you may have already given up on by February or March.

With the Boston Marathon falling on Easter Monday, this year’s Lent also marks the final 40 days of marathon training. A time to regroup and refocus.

Back in December (during Advent, my second favorite church season), I set my goals for Boston. 17 weeks out (12 weeks ago), I wrote down 6 action items that I would take on in order to achieve my goals for the race:

  1. meditate daily
  2. do at least 5min of core every day
  3. run harder workouts than I have ever run
  4. have lights out by 11pm – phone away from the bed
  5. no coffee 2-3 days per week
  6. build community around running

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I’m only 5 weeks away from Boston and now is around the time where I feel like I should start to really find out where I am and formulate that second round of goal-setting.

STEP 1: Progress Report

For starters, I’ll look at how I’ve done so far with the action items I set forth:

  1. meditate daily – I’ve only missed a handful of days since December and have become a HUGE fan of Headspace – the app that I use for guided meditations.
  2. do at least 5min of core every day – I haven’t done this every day, but we did join the YMCA in February and the amount of core and strength/yoga/TRX classes I’ve done definitely equals out to an average of at least 5min per day.
  3. run harder workouts than I have ever run – Yup. And the best is yet to come!
  4. have lights out by 11pm – phone away from the bed – On the whole I’ve been very good about this one, including pulling myself away from the epic post-Gate River afterparty in time to meet the 11pm deadline. But keeping phone away from the bed hasn’t really happened (especially since I often meditate using my phone as the last thing I do before I fall asleep).
  5. no coffee 2-3 days per week – Yeah, I’ve done that and the training log shows. (Runs over 8:15 pace = sans coffee)
  6. build community around running – While my blogging has lagged recently, I have definitely been working on this one. I have been dedicating a lot of time towards my private coaching with McKirdy Trained. I started connecting with the local running community by working at Fleet Feet in Greenville and attending their Monday night Pub Runs whenever I’m in town. I have found lots of new running buddies in Greenville. And at every race I go to, I feel like my network of amazing people and runners just keeps expanding.

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STEP 2: Reckoning

The next step of reevaluation is to look at what I’ve done so far in my build-up. I have a public log on Running2Win, and try to share my workouts on Instagram fairly regularly but the short version is this:

Over the last couple months I have slowly built up a volume of work between 5:30 and 5:55 pace – starting with 5mi worth of 400s and moving all the way up to 3mi pieces. (And this week will be even more fun with a 5mi-4mi-3mi-2mi-1mi long run within those ranges on Thursday, so look out for that one!)

I have run 1:14:05 – 20 seconds slower than my PR (but 2nd fastest ever) in the Half at Gasparilla Distance Festival 2 weeks ago. And this past weekend I sneaked into the top 15 at the Gate River Run and managed a 15k PR of 52:31 (3rd time racing the distance).

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Photo Cred: Erica Shell

STEP 3: Reevaluation

One of the primary goals going into this Boston build-up was to try to make the World Team. Having had the honor to represent the US in Beijing in 2015, I had a thirst and drive to make it back to that level this year.

But one of the hardest parts about this sport is that you only control what you control, and the progress and accomplishments of other women is one thing I do not.

I could not be more pleased that Serena Burla and Sara Hall have both had breakthrough races already this year, and that makes the new time to beat, 2:28:26, beyond reasonable expectation for me at this point, and not to mention all the fasties racing Boston and London before the window closes.

Does that make me a failure? Heck no. It means 3 things:

  1. Team USA is going to have one of the strongest women’s IAAF World Marathon teams in the history of the event. And that. is. AWESOME.
  2. Place-related goals are always risky. I was stretching for a goal that I knew had the possibility of slipping out of reach, and that’s okay. I will do it again.
  3. For the time being, I need to make new goals.

STEP 4: New Goals

So my new set of goals is still very similar to my old one, and it may not happen in Boston, but I need to get as close as possible because they are also the next steps towards bigger things. And at age 30, I’m starting to realize that while the end is not near, it does exist.

  1. I will make it to the starting line healthy (because that’s always my number 1 goal)
  2. Given good weather – I will do everything in my power to join the extremely elite sub-2:30 club.
  3. Given bad weather – I will run smarter and tougher than ever and work my way up, believing wholeheartedly that THIS TIME I’ll make it into the top 10.
  4. I will enjoy the process and have courage and faith in my training no matter what.

And in order to achieve those, I will simply keep holding on to the commitments I made to myself back in December – meditation, core, hard work, bedtime, community.

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One comment

  1. 1

    Wow! This is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your experiences and routine. This will helps us a lot. I see meditation has helped you a lot, I agree with this.
    Even I do follow this in my routine. I use an app which has multiple series within the app which helps to relieve stress or power up in as little as 5 minutes and increases feelings of peace, mindfulness, and productivity when used regularly. This has helped me a lot in my way. (https://sosmethod.co/). After reading your post I felt like to share it with you as well. This might help you as well.

    Looking forward to your new post.

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