I have a big announcement to make. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this publicly. I’ve been sitting on this for a while now, but I feel like it’s time to finally say it out loud. One of my core values is authenticity so it feels especially important for me to be transparent with you at this particular moment in time. OK, here it goes…
Wait, what? You didn’t catch that? OK, fine, here it is again. Deep breath…
I am training for a marathon.
If you’ve read some of my previous posts (here, here, and here), you know I have a complex relationship with running. In fact, when I started with a new physical therapist recently to address some lingering hip pain, she asked what my goal was for treatment. I told her I had just finished a spring half-marathon and was eyeing a marathon in the fall. She said, “oh, so you’re a runner!” My response: “it’s complicated.”
And, yet, I find myself seven weeks into a 20-week training plan that has promised to make me feel prepared to go for a 26.2-mile run on a Saturday in November. The interesting part is that the schedule only covers the physical preparation with a mix of distances, strength training, and yoga, but it's apparent that the psychological and emotional components are going to be even harder for me to build than my stamina.
I referenced Atomic Habits by James Clear in a previous blog and how adopting the identity of the thing you are trying to achieve can be helpful in creating momentum towards a goal. For example, saying “I’m a writer” instead of “I write” feels more definitive, confident, and bold. So, I gave it a try.
I’m a marathoner.
What's really going on in my head:
HAHAHAHAHA! OMG, that’s hilarious! It sounds utterly ridiculous! Insert self-deprecating joke here about how the only running I used to do is if I heard the ice cream truck coming down the street. I may have played sports throughout high school and been running recreationally off and on since my late-20s, but I certainly don’t run marathons. That’s something I’ve secretly had on my bucket list for a decade and a half, but that’s not something I would actually do. It’s not something I could actually do. That’s something that other people do, but that’s because those people are real runners. They look and dress and move like marathoners; I don’t. Sorry, James Clear, that’s just too much of a stretch.
Since we make sense of the world by assessing evidence from the past and using that data to inform future situations, it’s true that I don’t have any proof to reassure me that I can successfully complete this big, hairy, audacious goal of running a marathon. I have never done it before so my brain, rightfully so, can’t quite comprehend what is going on here and is doing its job of keeping me safe. However, rather than give in to that critical voice that continues, relentlessly I’ll add, to try to talk me out of this unnerving situation I’ve found myself in, I recently assessed evidence from the past to make another list that feels equally true.
I am the kind of person who…
Sets meaningful goals for herself
Keeps her word and follows through on her commitments
Enjoys challenging herself to stretch outside of her comfort zone
Prioritizes wellness in all aspects of her life
Sets a positive example for her children
Knows how to lean into community when she needs support
Carves out time and space for things that matter
Isn’t afraid to work hard for something she believes in
Understands that asking for help is an asset and a strength
Knows that mindset is more impactful than physical ability
As the mileage on my long runs gets into the double-digits, these are the mantras that I’m finding myself returning to as fuel, along with my Gu packets and sports beans, to keep me going when things feel hard. Perhaps I will need the race medal around my neck and an official picture from the finish line as concrete evidence before I’ll be able to embrace my identity as a marathoner, and even then it might take some getting used to. Until then, holding onto what I know for sure about myself and the kind of person I am is what is keeping me motivated by enabling me to believe that this far-fetched fantasy is even remotely possible.
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