“In the end, your body always wins.”
The “Dude” Abides
Okay…I know, the use of “Dude” in the title is a bit much. Anyone who knows me in analogue life, knows that I am anything but a, “dude”.
Anyway, I am home with a chest cold today, and have some extra time to take inventory on my training progress, process, motivation, and intent.
First, just let me say how very irritated I am that I am battling my second cold virus of the season. It turns my head space dark, and feels like a setback, even though I am only in my 6th week of training with ten more to go. It is terribly easy to catastrophize the end result when training does not go as planned. However, it does cause me pause.
My approach to challenge, especially concerning my life as a runner, and at work, is to grin and say how truly well everything is going. Ask me how I am doing with my training, and I am likely to say with a smile, “one foot in front of the other!”
I do recognize that this is a bit disingenuous. Maybe I am afraid people will tune me out if I complain to much…or maybe I realize that reporting on the challenges of marathon training, in the end, will simply not matter – success is getting it done, right?
Success must be more than that. Maybe success is our ability to work through the challenge, not just ignore that the challenge is there. A life in transparency is a life willing to tackling our own self-serving denial.
Thus, in the spirit of being transparent about my journey, I have some confessions to make regarding training for my second marathon. If you are a regular reader of the Svelte Yeti Health and Fitness website, you know that I ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon last May, and am running it again in 2017. The challenges I face for my second attempt are very different from my first:
- I am burnt out: I think that there are two types of fatigue, physical and mental. The cumulative effects of both are part of the challenge in any training program, whether you are training for your first 5k, or marathon. Failing to pay attention to physical and mental fatigue leads to burnout. At this stage, I am experiencing mental fatigue to a greater extent, and am using trial and error with a variety of tools, with little to no effect, if I am being honest with myself.
- Fear of failure is no longer my motivator: During my first marathon, fear is what drove me, fear that I would not be able to complete the 42.2k race. I did complete the race, and surprised myself with several small successes along the way. Completing the marathon is no longer the overarching challenge. I am now left searching for deeper reasons to run the race. The lesson hidden in this challenge is asking my very achievement oriented self, “Jerod, is fear a motivator you use is other areas in your life? Is fear a healthy motivator?” I have yet to answer this question.
- I am still developing my end goal: Broadly speaking, the health outcomes of running trumps any challenge along the way. I have never felt more alive and connected to a community that running has provided. However, I struggle with the actual end goal of living a running lifestyle. How do I keep if fresh? I think it is healthy to ask, “What is the point of it all?”
- Getting older kinda sucks: I am turning forty-five in June. In the past five years, I have noticed a clear decline in stride, and an increase in the recovery needed between big runs. For instance, I ran 25k last Sunday. It took me three days before I felt ready to get back out there. That is frustrating!
- Running can be isolating: Even though I have found a community of runners that I love to connect with online, and some in person, I notice that running can be a bit isolating. Most people in my life are not runners, and don’t understand all the physical and mental day-to-day challenge I experience. In some ways, this makes me feel accomplished and unique. In other ways, it leaves me editing reports of my running experience with my non-runner friends and family.
Looking at the above confessions leaves me with a sense of uneasiness, even guilt. It is important for me to stay positive as I face challenges I experience in life. I value perseverance, sticking to the plan, and pushing through challenges along the way. I generally do not honor the struggle, instead honoring the accomplishment of the goal. Maybe there is value in transparency. After all, acting as if “all is good” all the time, tends to push people away, not draw them near. Closeness is developed through vulnerability, not strength alone.
What are your challenges? Are you having to dig deep, deeper than you ever believed as you prepare for an upcoming race or experience?