Determination & Discomfort

Week 49/52 recap

9.5 Yassos (4:40/4:29/4:25/4:35/4:34/4:34/4:38/4:33/4:34/4:38) – 5.8 EZ – 20.38 mi (3 easy/ 2 mod. hard x4) 3:45:35

Some of my marathon training runs are harder than others and this week was packed with some of the most difficult. I tackled nine miles of speed work on the track on Tuesday and my last 20 mile long run on Sunday. To those who do not run it can sound crazy.

I have had people say to me, “Why do you run when if it hurts?” or “I would die if I tried to do that.” Granted, I have built up to these harder training runs. It takes quite a while for a non-runner to get to the point they can tackle hours of pounding. The body adapts, tendons get resilient and muscles get strong as week after week mileage and intensity is incrementally increased. My one friend recently said, “I had no idea there was such a science to it.” If you want less of a chance of serious injury, it is best to follow a well thought out training plan.

Another aspect is building mental toughness. Over time and with much practice I have learned to talk myself out of stopping when I am tired or starting to hurt. When I get so tired of running hard in tight circles on the track I think things like, “Why go on? Quit and write up a fake recap for Angie*.” I then keep going and bang out all of the required repeats because when I do a mental check of, “Are you injured?” I have to admit I am not. Then I remind myself, “You are only cheating yourself. No one is going to tough out those final miles for you.”

*Coach Angie Spencer of Marathon Training Academy to whom I could never lie.

Excerpted from “How to Think Like an Elite Runner,”Jim Afremow, Ph.D.;

Our society has conditioned us to believe that there should be no discomfort, to stop when we are uncomfortable. But the discomfort we feel when we’re doing a challenging workout is an important part of the strengthening process. Push through your down days when you’re not feeling your best (unless, of course, you are injured or ill). Dogged determination requires keeping your feet moving forward through inconveniences, discomfort, and insecurities to reach your goals.

It isn’t that I enjoy the discomfort. Heck, I could sit at home on the couch all day and get so stiff it would hurt to walk if I wanted to be in pain. It is the empowerment to overcome minor physical irritations, the determination to complete what I have started despite the physical challenges that arise. I don’t like sweating just to sweat but I know that its itchy gross feeling generally comes with the pay off of better physical fitness.

Convinced that my toes were raw and bleeding, I somehow managed a smile on the final mile of the 2012 Wineglass Marathon.

Convinced that my toes were raw and bleeding, I somehow managed a smile on the final mile of the 2012 Wineglass Marathon.

All of the long runs, speed work and time sacrificed away from other activities and indulgences that I really enjoy are inconveniences on a certain level. They are hard. It is hard to have to say “no” to friends who want to hike or letterbox or go out for beer because I really enjoy those things and miss them. I also know that my determination is paving the way for seeing me through to the finish line of this year-long endeavor of mine.

The 2012 Wineglass Marathon was an exciting new adventure at and completing it was an amazing experience. It also caught me by surprise at times. My feet hurt so much during the final 3 miles that I was certain my toes were bloody pulp and I had to fight off the urge to stop to take my shoes off. I told myself, “Ok, your feet are bleeding. Get to the end then take your shoes off.” When I finally took them off in the car I was shocked that my feet were fine. Not one damaged toenail, not a single blister.

The final miles of the NYC Marathon are going to be tough. I know it will be asking myself to do something I have only been able to accomplish once before. I am prepared for my mind to tell me things that just aren’t so. It will try to convince me to stop. I know I will think things like, “You need and deserve to walk a little. This hill is starting to hurt your legs. You need to stop for another cup of water and walk while you drink it.” Just like when I was a kid asking for a drink of water in the middle of the night, I won’t be thirsty but just looking for some comfort in those long difficult times. Hopefully all of my training and determination will be enough to not have those moments catch me by surprise and I can steel myself, be resolved and determinedly push my way through the discomfort.


4 thoughts on “Determination & Discomfort

  1. This is an excellent post with an impressive report on your NYC Marathon preparation. 10 Yasso 800’s and holding your pace through the final one gives me another challenge to work toward.

  2. GREAT post! Hope you had an awesome 20 miler today. I was thinking of you on my long run this am. You SO got this race. My family will be cheering you on all the way. Heck, I’ve been cheering you on this whole time. Rock your NY run!

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