Marathon training started 2 weeks ago. I’ve been a good girl, doing all the miles and supplemental work. I’ve already experienced a lot of feelings that I recognize as part of training: excitement, boredom, happiness, frustration, and fear. But, this year I’ve found something that I don’t usually experience this early: gratitude.
Maybe it was the week I spent on the couch recovering from wisdom teeth surgery just before starting to train, but I have been awash in gratitude during my runs.
Running focused on injuries
I’ve struggled with injuries for a while now, all in my feet and ankles. When I wrote about how I tried running in 2007, I recalled that I bought an ankle brace days after I started. This issue has always been there in some form or another. A lot of training plans have been de-railed, runs not ran, races not raced.
I am getting better at mitigating flare-ups, but I haven’t found the underlying cause. Last year when I was not experiencing injury, I was afraid of re-injuring. Or I was relieved I wasn’t in pain. Or I was even angry I wasn’t in pain. A lot of my running life focused on this injury.
But these few weeks have been different.
Running focused on gratitude
Along with the fear and excitement of starting a new plan with a less-than-ideal foot structure, I’ve been thankful. I’m looking past my feet and looking up. And I see things for which to give thanks.
I am grateful for my drive
A couple of months ago, my depression reared its ugly head. The first thing it does is rob me of my drive. During that time I can abstractly understand the benefits of hard work, but I’m unable to personalize or imagine those benefits in my life. Then hard work feels worthless. Then depression zaps my energy and hard work feels impossible. But as Wil Wheaton says, “Depression lies.”
I give myself permission to feel. I acknowledge how I feel. I am gentle with myself until I am ready, and then I make changes. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.
The Husband occasionally reminds me that my drive to do hard work is a gift. He reminds me that many people struggle to put in hard work, and considers my ease a talent. Experiencing the loss of that gift temporarily reinforces that concept. Hard work is hard work, but I’m thankful for my ability to do it and my drive to do it.
I am grateful for my routine
5 days of running each week. Water for this run. Gels for this run. Time to stretch. Time to ice. Time to make the doughnuts.
I know some people despise routine, but it anchors me. It uses a minimal amount of energy. By default, I am functional. I don’t debate with myself whether I should run, stretch, or ice. I direct my energy into the actions themselves and I get a lot out of them.
I’m 1 week into new bedtime and morning routines. It’s hard to develop these habits. They are not fun habits. But my fight with depression demands that I take extra care of my body.
I’m thankful that my old and new routines will nurture growth and allow me to thrive instead of just getting by.
I am grateful for my boredom
Even in these first two weeks, I’ve thought, “Ugh, why am I running for so long?”
When that thought passes through, I have a choice… but not really.
I’ve already chosen to keep going.
And that’s when I know that I’m meant to be out there as a long distance runner. I am grateful to have that reaffirmation in boredom.
I also use it as a signal. Boredom signals me to give my mind permission to wander — to either something that makes me happy, or to something I’ve been avoiding. There is plenty to explore both out there and in here.
I am grateful for my experience, whatever the outcome
I know this training session is going to make me a better runner. I know it’s going to make me a better person. Every training plan, whether a success or failure, has done both. There is no reason why this one would be an exception.
I have looked toward this marathon since… well, before my February marathon. I’ve prepared each day with a fall marathon in mind.
But, no matter if I get injured. No matter if I don’t start or complete this marathon, I have now – after 2 years and 7 months – convinced myself that I’m a runner.
And that means a lot. It has lifted a weight off my shoulders. I don’t have to prove it to anyone. I don’t have to prove it to myself.
I’ll get to my goals, eventually. Probably. Maybe.
And that is enough.