Rewind. Remember when I ran the TCS New York City Marathon? Yeah, so do I.
Rewind again. Remember when I ran the Navy Air-Force Half Marathon in DC? Ummhmm, I remember that too.
Well, then we all remember that I got very overheated and sick after that half marathon and nearly deferred my entry for the marathon. I was terrified of getting sick again, not being able to finish a race, disappointing myself… not be able to do something I love- run distance.
What ya’ll may not know is how I’ve worked to overcome that fear and physical reaction. To meet my body half way and find a way to run safely and enjoy it… first, I had to learn to walk.
Yup, you read that right- WALK.
I walked a lot during the NYC Marathon and all the other half marathons sense. I walk during long training runs and really any other time I feel like it’s what my body needs. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t fall into a “tourist stroll” no no! I keep up a nice power walk pace and can smoothly transition from a jog to a walk and back again. I keep my legs and arms moving, I keep my breath steady, and my posture correct. But I slow down a little which gives my body a change to cool off.
For both the Maine Coast Half Marathon and the Brooklyn Half this month (reviews coming your way soon), I worked with a walk-a-mile/run-a-mile game plan after mile 4 or so. Alternating gave me time to consume gels and water as well as cool down. This was also time to take in the surroundings and enjoy each race a little more knowing I would finish feeling good! At the end of the day, this was the desired outcome. Sure maybe my pace has taken a slight hit, but I’m not going for a PR every time I run and if I keep pushing it so I get sick, eventually there will not be a next time.
At first, yes, this whole “walk if and as you need too” was very hard to accept. It felt like failure. Like I was lazy and not working hard enough. The thing is though, that I was training right and eating right and it was still happening. I wasn’t being lazy– I wasn’t listening to my body.
Completing 13.1 or 26.2 is nothing to sneeze at! No matter how you do it.
Sense I started this method, I have felt so much better while racing and while living my life afterwards. Less pain, no getting sick, and I can actually enjoy the rest of the day after a morning race!
Finishing each race that I start on my own two feet, this is what really matters to me.
While I was running the Maine Coast Half Marathon a few weeks ago, I was thinking about this post. Actually, I was in a “walking mile” while I was thinking about it… and I had an experience I won’t soon forget.
A woman came up behind me and passed on the left. OK, totally normal.
As she passed she asked, “Are you walking this whole thing?”
I nearly fell over (or slapped her)!
I replied, “No, just every other mile” and managed a smile… continuing on the rest of my walk mile and the rest of the race… but I was actually pretty annoyed by the comment.
For me, racing is personal. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I want to be with myself in the moment of every step of each mile. I’ve never had someone say something to me in a race. Sure, usually I participate in much larger races that have a different caliber of runner, but also there are just so many people you can’t talk to everyone, so you don’t say anything. (Unless it’s something encouraging while going up a big hill or approaching the finish, we all cheer and support one another).
But this woman stayed with me. I mean that literally! She was alternating run/walk as well! So for the next few miles- up to the finish when I couldn’t let her cross before me and I pushed through with an amazing finish sprint- we played a little unspoken tag, I’d pass her as she walked and she would pass me when she started running again and I would have started walking again. All the while I was thinking about this post.
Because in that moment with her, I realized SO MUCH! It shouldn’t matter to anyone if I’m walking in a race. No one but me… and well, now all of you… know what I’m working through or what I have going on.
The long and short message- I walk in all of my major races and it’s the best thing I’ve allowed myself to do. Yes, at first I felt like I was failing and not worthy to take on these major races. But now, now I am finishing races and not feeling like I’m doing to die. I feel stronger and happier during and after each race. I’ve accepted what works for me so that I can continue doing something that I love. I not longer feel like a failure, I feel like I can take on any course and any race I pin on a number for!
What helps you through long runs? Share, comment, and like! Most importantly, don’t worry about what anyone else says or thinks, this is just for you.