Runners of all walks of life, skill and age have almost completed their fall marathon training. Now they must conquer their doubts.
These runners, a determined few, have pushed through the cold of spring. The heat and humidity of the summers relentless sun. Through the rain, fog and inclement weather of the early fall.
Despite this determination and fitness building feats of endurance. The novice and experienced runner alike start to experience doubts this time of year.
Doubts in their ability to finish what they have started.
Doubts to hit the distance or goal time that they have had in mind for months.
Doubts they can not overcome the aches, pains and injures that come late in the training season.
Doubts that they will let themselves and their loved ones down come race day.
As hard as all this may seem now. As frustrating, sometimes isolating and demotivating as it may be. This is all normal. It is part of what makes the Marathon a worthwhile yet demanding endeavor.
The marathon is about going beyond one’s physical and mental comfort zone. The marathon is not run on race day. The marathon is all the hardships, milestones, and experiences during training. All the long runs, early mornings, sacrifices and emotions both on and off the trails.
We forget this sometimes as the excitement and anticipation once felt gives way to our fears. For many this is compounded by the stress of everyday life. For others training related mishaps, missed milestones or injury. For so many of us a combination of all the above leading to a doubt to race at all.
As runners, we are those that wish to build and test our endurance in a measured way. While we do, we must also remember that we are testing our ability to accept our own humanity. Our limits physical and mental, given the health and daily lifestyle that we have to work with right now.
We learn to accept this as we get to know ourselves and our limits in a way that only adversity can teach us. It is this that training for the marathon teaches a runner. A self-reflection of our desire to do something big and meaningful. With an end goal that only seems to grow until it feels bigger and bigger as we accept what it will take to complete it.
Training for the marathon there are many things that you are going to have to learn to accept.
To feel tired, to have doubts, to have fears, this is all normal.
To wonder why you continue to push yourself to go on is normal.
To constantly evaluate your progress and adjust your goals is normal.
To wonder if you should quit outright and forget all this is normal.
Despite this all being normal, runners are anything but, and yes, you are a runner.
You as a runner have learned to push through discomfort, hunger, tiredness. You have looked into the face of hard work and adversity. You have conquered that adversity under conditions others can not even imagine.
It is this struggle that wears runners down. That makes us question so many things when we should be proud of the journey we have been on so far to get here. To be proud of how far we have come.
But this quality is what makes marathon runners special. We have an ever growing need inside of each of us to do better. To see gains with each training run. To see our pace increase with the mileage week over week. To get a high from the reward of this daily progress that helps us keep pushing on towards our ultimate goal of the race.
So why all the doubt then. Why does it feel so hard? Because the hardest part of training for the marathon is the last few weeks just before the race and the fears they bring.
Doubt sneaks into all our minds as we worry about any number of things that we fear will stop us from our goals.
We don’t see the gains with each run anymore.
We are running out of training time between now and the race.
We have completed our longest run that we ever will before race day, and it was hard and tiring.
We wonder if we will ever feel ready, if we even are physically.
This is because we want to excel and improve at all costs. We are addicts for any proof that we have succeeded in this goal. We feel like failures to a degree when we can not longer see that improvement.
The truth is and what we tend to forget is that we are human.
That the training we have completed for such an extraordinary goal comes at a toll on our mind and body. This toll makes us forget many key things.
We forget how far we have come.
We forget how hard we have worked.
We forget that we took this on not because it was easy, but because it was hard.
We needed to feel alive.
When we pause for a moment to reflect on and remember these things it’s amazing what we see. We see that we have transformed over the course of preparing for a marathon.
We understand the fatigue we feel is because of months of hard training.
We realize that the reason that we no longer see gains and improvements is because we have peaked.
We realize that we have peaked because we worked hard training and it has payed off.
We realize that the reason the days left to train are few is because the race is almost here.
We realize the uneasy feeling short runs bring is actually a desire to do more, to push harder.
We realize that we are ready to run a marathon.
That the training is already in our muscles, our minds and our hearts.
That we have the wisdom and practice to be ready for anything come race day.
That we have rested and healed our body in the taper.
That we are chomping a the bit like a race horse ready to go with nervous energy.
This is the long road to a fall marathon. You have already pushed through the hardest part of the experience surviving your doubts.
Now all you have left is to run the race and reap the rewards.
Though you might not believe me, that is the easiest part, and you are ready.
Please share this with a runner you know that may be doubting themselves and let them know they are ready too.