Last night I got in a run as I left work. Over the past few weeks I have made a transition to going back to work. I am lucky to have a job where I can set my hours and they are sporadic, fun, and active. The other half of my job involves working with running clients which is also fun and active. But once you have a child, it takes a lot of balance. And when there are two runners in the house, there involves a lot more coordinating to get our daily runs and workouts in.
Gone are the days when I could wait around and then pop out the door on a whim and come back 15 miles later. Now every run has to be carefully planned around both of our schedules. We have to work to make sure that we each get a run in and have time to get everything else done too.
I start marathon training next Monday and I am feeling a mix of excitement and apprehension as that day approaches. I’m excited to be back on a schedule and to even be considering a marathon. But this time around I have goals. The last time I ran a marathon I had nothing to expect and I surprised myself by qualifying for Boston. I didn’t even push myself to my limits during the race and it made me wonder what I could have done. This time I know what I am capable of, or should I say, what I was once capable of.
Back then I ran a lot. I would run 55-70 miles per week and randomly go for 20+ mile runs on the weekend. Just for the heck of it! This time, I have struggled to find the time to get in some double digit runs between work schedules, weather, a sick baby, and life.
So last night when I was running, I looked at my watch as I weaved around ice patches and snow mounds to check my pace. With each mile, I would think, “Ok, I only have to run that pace for 22 more miles.” Then I would start to wonder how I did that so effortlessly in the past.
A thought came to my mind, “I’m not the runner I used to be.” Talk about discouraging! It’s true. I’m not the runner I used to be. I’m a mom now. I’m older. I have a new job and new responsibilities. And that’s okay.
As I played with this notion in my head, I tried to put it in perspective. That is when another thought came to my mind, “But I wasn’t the runner I am now.” Sure I am older. Yes I don’t have time to go run when I want and come back when I feel like it.
On the other hand, I have a lot of experiences under my belt. I’ve learned how to properly rest and to know when my body needs extra time to heal. I am more patient with my body. I’ve coached hundreds of other marathoners and know things will be okay.
I also had a baby and I know that I can push my body to the brink…..and then some. I know what it takes to push through the hard times and that when your mind says you can’t take it a step further, your body can take over (and vice versa).
I’m more forgiving with my schedule and know that things can be readjusted. A training plan isn’t a Bible and a missed run or a crappy run won’t break me. I know when to push myself and when to be patient.
I think as athletes this is an important lesson. We shouldn’t get so concerned about living in the past, or missing what was in the past. Those memories aren’t going to help move us toward our goals. Instead, focus on what you have learned and what you can do now. In many ways, we can use our experiences to move us forward and become stronger and smarter athletes. And in the end, remember that as we got older, those qualifying times get slower!