Seeing the Trees for the Forest

I hate to say it, but I can’t deny that I’ve fallen into the trap that gets most of us runners. When things aren’t going awesome with our running, we kind of drop off the map. In my situation, I’m not hurt or pregnant or taking a break. I just haven’t had a noteworthy workout or race in what feels like years. And as I prepare to run a marathon in less than 9 days, there is a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to my fitness. But I’d be lying if I said that I’m struggling.

It occurred to me when I was talking to Tina Muir recently that among runners of all ages and stages, there is a sub-text for the question “how are you?” Because our current fitness and latest performance can have such a huge impact on our overall happiness, really the question “how are you?” also means “how is your running going?”

It stood out because Tina just had a baby (yay, congratulations, Tina!!), and when we spoke most recently, she was very pregnant. And yet when I asked her “how are you?” even she (someone who has REALLY done her work) had to give a nod to the impulse to mention her running first – something like “well, I’m not really running much.”

To be fair, our running does have a huge impact on our wellbeing! I mean, if running is normally part of your daily routine, it would be like asking someone who can’t shower or poop how they’re doing – of course they’re going to say “well, I can’t shower or poop.”

 

So when I tell people I’m going to run a marathon – the race I’ve been preparing for for months – the natural question is something like “how are you feeling?” “how has training been going?” or “are you excited for your race?” And my response is this: I’m really excited for the trip and I’m grateful to be healthy and ready to race, but I’m not excited about my current fitness.

When I first said it that way, even I was shocked at how matter-of-factly I was able to say it. No self-pity or disappointment, just the truth. I thought it would be scary because in the past it has been terrifying. But I’ve learned that you only have so much control over your fitness, and if you do the best you can day in and day out, then regardless of the outcome, you know you can live with it. And hey, you also might surprise yourself!

 

And if you ask me how I am? My answer is I’m great! I’m healthy. Cole is an awesome partner and he’s also running well. Grace is the best dog I’ve ever had. I have amazing parents, sisters, and in-laws who support my life of passion. I have so many great people to run with in Greenville that I almost miss running alone sometimes.

Does that mean that I’m over running competitively? Am I just running for lifestyle and community now? Heck no! But just because I’m not knocking it out of the park every week, doesn’t mean I deserve to be miserable.

Maybe everybody else already knew this and I’m just the last one to catch on.

 

Recently I commented on a friend’s post about her hugely successful breakthrough race after several years of working really hard. I was genuinely pumped about what she had done!

Her response struck a nerve with me. Especially right now.

The theme of my entire Osaka build-up has been perspective. Sometimes having a big-picture perspective is motivating and helpful. Remembering how much farther we have to climb can keep us humble and hard-working.

But other times it can be painful. Sometimes it actually isn’t helpful to remember that I have run 2:33 or won a US Marathon title. Because hey, I was able to do those things without having done them before, and after almost 4 years of not breaking that PR, I’m starting to wonder if that ignorant bliss wasn’t part of the magic.

Right now, I just want to remember that 3 months ago I could barely run mile repeats at 6:05 pace, and this week I averaged 5:44 easily. Selective amnesia can be helpful.

Am I where I have been before? No.

Am I where I want to someday be? No.

But am I better than yesterday? Yes.

And even if I weren’t, there’s still something to be gained from today. Like this… (my response to my friend’s reply):

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