It’s officially July, which means summer is in full swing. The BBQ’s, bikinis, and babes are all out in full effect. Summer Fridays and weekends away are all anyone can talk about. But for those of you training for a marathon, the summer can take on an entirely new / not always pleasant meaning, or at least it did for me last summer.
Training up until May was a breeze. I would wake up at a normal hour, the sun would still be skin-friendly (with SPF on of course), do my miles, and not feel as if I needed to sleep for the next two days when I was finished. Cut to mid-summer, and I was not only questioning why the weather gods hated me so much, but also why would I ever put myself through this grueling, worlds-strongest-woman type of bullshit. But I always reminded myself that not only was I running the marathon for an amazing charity, I was also doing it as a challenge to see how far I could physically push my body (and mind). And at the end of every run, I was always amazed at both my will power and pure strength.
Something I did not expect to happen during the course of my training was the change in my relationship with my body. Even though I was years recovered from an eating disorder, many people expressed concern when I told them what I was doing. And it turns out they had a right to be!.
It’s my personal nature to push myself HARD. Whether it comes to work, life, play, you name it, I don’t do anything less than 110%. So it came as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I chose to train for my first marathon as if I were a seasoned runner, running 8 ½ minute miles. Insane right? Totally!! But that’s just me.
As my training schedule progressed, so did the amount of miles I had to run per week. Before I knew it, my long runs went from 8 miles to 12 to 16 to 20.
I remember coming home after my first 20-miler (you do about 3 of those during training) and instead of giving myself the worlds biggest pat on the back, I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered why I wasn’t getting more of a “runners body.”
In the beginning, I had this vision that halfway through my training, I would be magically transformed into this running machine – with the body to match. And while I was in fact becoming something of a machine, to me, my body looked pretty much the same as it did before I started training.
Having gone through the entire process of eating disorder recovery, I knew this was a total oh-no-no. If I were going to have this attitude about my body while training, I would simply have to stop.
Nothing is worth beating yourself up over – NOTHING!!
So what did I do? I took a step back, talked honestly to friends and my coach, and gave myself a serious reality check. I realized that it was OK for me to push myself hard, but it was NOT OK for me to focus on my body in an unhealthy, negative way.
If there was ever a time for me to love and treat my body with kindness and respect, it was while training. Sounds simple enough, but for those of us who have struggled with eating issues, you know that at times, it can be really tough to do. But in that moment of realization, it was pretty much all I needed to get myself back on track, and what made it OK for me to keep on running.
Listen – running a marathon (or any type of long distance) is a big decision. If you are going to train properly, which, DUH you should, there are a lot of components that have nothing to do with the actual act of running. You need proper nutrition, rest and recovery time, a great support team, and most important, you have to know your limits. You can only push yourself so hard and you are only capable of so much.
If I took away anything from training, it was that your body is only as good as you are to it. If you want it to keep you on your feet for 26.2 miles, you better treat it like a fucking temple, cause that’s the only way you are gonna cross the finish line.