For those of you who don’t know, I’m training to run the Boston Marathon on April 17th. It’s an iconic race and one that I could not be more thankful to run, especially as my first marathon. I am running on behalf of an amazing organization, Tenacity, that helps less-advantaged students within the Boston Public Schools system. Whether they need mentoring, academic help, family support, etc. Tenacity is there. They have a focus on tennis and fitness as a way to get kids engaged. I am in love. Side note and very shameless plug: I have a goal of raising $10,000 for them and welcome all of the support here.
After last week’s post about what I’m finding it’s (really) like to train for a marathon while in eating disorder recovery, I’ve been eager to keep the blogging momentum going. Especially after all of the support, love and encouragement that I received from you all. Thank you x 1 million for that.
I hope my last post didn’t seem too negative. If anything, I think it was a reality check for myself – one that reminded me to keep seeking the positives. One of the messages I received in regards to that post was from one of the my Tenacity Teammates. She said:
“During my first marathon a good friend reminded me that .5% of the world has ever considered running a marathon. That means that in a room of 200 people, you are already more bad a$$ than 199 of them.”
… which I absolutely love and will carry with me. I don’t think this means I’m better than anyone else and I don’t want it to come off that way, but it is pretty cool and something that’s helping my mental commitment. I mean, even if I end up crawling across the finish line, at least I’ll have attempted something most people don’t. There’s a lot of pride to be found in that.
So while I’ve been a little anxious that people might think that I’m not doing so hot or that “always-positive-Emily” is taking a trip to negative world, I’ve decided to do some reflecting on what I’ve absolutely loved and learned through this whole process. Enjoy.
1. Having a training buddy is everything.
One of my best friends, Hadley, is also running the marathon. While we’re both running for different charities, we’ve literally done as much as possible together training-wise. We started on the same day, have the same coach, have the same training plan and schedule our weekly runs together. Luckily we not only live a 5-minute walk from each other but also work the same distance apart. We’ve banded together through snow, rain and long distances.
I honestly can’t pick one word to describe how imperative Hadley has been to my training. I am not joking when I say that she literally keeps me sane. Hadley is extremely balanced, extremely smart when it comes to pushing or backing off during a run and extremely strong. Although I sometimes beg her to go faster without me (because I know she can) or to not stop when I need a break, she usually refuses to leave my side (unless I threaten her).
I couldn’t do this whole thing without her, end of story. I am beyond thankful for her existence. If you ever want to run a marathon, pick a partner and lean on them. It’s such a relief to be honest with someone about how you’re feeling and know that they aren’t going to judge you. We’ve also formed the best tradition of hitting up a local restaurant for bloody mary’s and brunch post-long Saturday runs. Again, sanity.
Thanks for being my running buddy, Had, I love you always.
2. Don’t be silly, seek out the experts.
Boston has a super strong running community, as I’m sure many places do. I’ve learned to really take advantage of that. There’s someone whose been who has been in my shoes before, someone who has faced my same struggles and someone who has advice. I’ve learned to reach out and to listen.
My favorite fitness studio in Boston, MyStryde, is literally filled with certified running coaches. Becca, the owner, is the definition of a bad ass and running role model. She has literally built a community for all levels of runners to find their place. The studio is filled with Woodway treadmills (which mimic what it feels like to run outside) and they hold classes that coach your through hills, sprints, endurance, etc. This place has also been my saving grace.
Hadley and I were lucky enough to snag their lead instructor, Kelli (highly recommend, check her out) to be our training coach.
I honestly feel like I could go to any of their instructors and ask questions. They’re are all experts and they’re all readily available. This has really been a game changer for me.
I also need to give a special shot out to one of the instructors, Rachel, who really went above and beyond with helping me understand that I’m not crazy. Her experiences align pretty closely with mine and having someone to just chat about that with, makes all the difference. Again, trust the experts. They know the deal.
MyStrdye also helps create a solid back up plan when running outside is not an option. See example of how Boston has looked for the past week, below:
3. Set an intention.
Have I mentioned that a bunch of amazing people reached out after my post last week. One of which, is a friend that I didn’t even know has run a marathon before. Her advice? Set a mantra or intention each time you head out on a run. When you feel like giving up, start repeating that mantra to yourself.
Not only did I love this idea, but I had tasked myself with doing something similar right before she reached out (scary). I had to run 60 minutes Wednesday night and while the first 30 minutes felt great, I needed a break at the 1/2 hour point. I forced Hadley to continue on without me and for the remaining 30 minutes, I forced myself to think. Why did I feel blah, why was I losing focus, where had my strength gone?
And then I decided I didn’t need to answer those questions, that instead it was what it was.
So I started telling myself … “Even though this isn’t perfect, it’s mine. And it will always be mine.”
Somehow that soothed me. When I get home, I wrote those words down. From now on, I’m going to try to create a quote or mantra or intention during each run and keep track of them all. I have a strong feeling they’ll keep me going in the future.
4. Know that it’s your own journey.
Piggybacking off of the idea above – that at the end of the day, this whole experience is mine, is the last thing I want to share with you.
I took a yoga class this morning and may have fallen in love with the instructor (not the point). At the end of every guided sequence, he told us to flow through our sun salutations solo and that he’d “meet us back in the dog.” At first, I semi-freaked out. I need him to tell me what to do! What did he mean, do it on my own?! Was he crazy? (I also laughed at how he referred to downward dog as “the dog,” my kind of guy).
I went through the first round on my own and survived … shocking. Round after round, I became attached to the thought that for the next few breaths I was on my own. This may have literally only be ten seconds, but for those 10 seconds I held onto the feeling that I could do whatever I wanted and still end up back with him, where I was supposed to be. I could be alone and then where everyone else was. I could be Emily and then be Emily as a part of something larger. Leave it to me to turn sun salutations into a life lesson.
But I think it’s true – so often in life we freak out about thinking we’re alone (which is never the case). Gosh forbid it was, I think that’s also OK at times. We need those moments of fear, doubt and being unsure to bring us back to the idea that we are living and experiencing.
And at the end of the day, isn’t that really all that maters?