I know I’ve already written about about what I’ve learned during training for my first marathon, but I’ve got a few more lessons to share. These bad boys apply to life just as much as they do to running.
1. Find a support system and lean on it, hard.
Since January 1st, running has been my main focus. I’d be lying if I said other things haven’t suffered from lack of attention – seeing friends, wedding planning, reading, writing, etc. I’m mostly OK with this because in the end, marathon training will have taken [only] 107 days total or 30% of this year (OK, yikes).
Honestly, I know I wouldn’t/couldn’t take the time to train if I didn’t have support. And at the end of the day, it’s the one thing that keeps me going. It really blows me away (and makes me tear up every time I think about it), how supportive people can be, without even thinking twice.
The coolest thing is learning who is paying attention to what you’re doing, when you have zero idea. For example: One of my kick-butt co-workers, who I actually idolize, left this on my desk one day at work.
With a note attached, she wrote that it’s been so inspiring watching me get ready to run at the end of long work days and reading my ATBE posts. I almost died. I have yet to take this bracelet off.
My Tenacity teammates, specifically two of them, have also contributed greatly in terms of keeping me focused. We have a group text, a Facebook group, e-mail chain, etc. We check in on each other, root for each other and try to plan our runs together. It also helps that half of Boston seems to be training for this marathon, so I’m surrounded by other runners in the same boat daily. I love it.
If I randomly decided I wasn’t going to run this marathon, I don’t think there’s a single person in my life that would let that fly. I can literally picture my family, friends, co-workers, Starbucks barista, etc. knocking on my door, lacing up my sneakers for me and dragging me to the finish line. How amazing does that feel? I have zero words.
Hadley & I hosted a fundraising party for both of the charities we are running for on Friday and night and again, I was just don’t even know what to say. I haven’t even lived in Boston for three years and yet the bar we held the party at was PACKED. I still get chills thinking about it.
So, if you ever feel like you’re taking on something that feels impossible and makes you question every single day whether or not you can actually do it … find a support system and LEAN on it. Don’t feel like a burden, don’t feel like a pest. You’re allowed to need help/support/motivation, etc. You’d do the same for someone else if the tables were turned. Accept it, bask in it, admire it. I had trouble with allowing myself truly feel its power, but it’s beyond worth it.
If you’re taking on a larger than life challenge and are anything like me, you’ll be moody. You’ll cancel plans at the last minute, you’ll cry over absolutely nothing. You’ll be stressed. It’s OK, people get it. Just promise yourself, you’ll be thankful and that you’ll never stop showing how much you love the support and the push.
I’d also highly suggest choosing 1-2 people that you can just vent to and be a mess around. Jordan has taken the cake in terms of being there to listen to me vent, watch me get upset and do everything in his power to help me stay focused. It’s been a complete game changer.
2. Let things go.
A few weeks ago, Jordan and I were laying in bed (ooo la la) and I was in a particularly stressed/bad mood. I honestly don’t even remember why I was so grumpy, but I asked him he wanted to go shopping the next day. He said no and I literally started crying. For no apparent reason other than that he didn’t want to go shopping with me.
Long story short, I wasn’t actually crying over the shopping part. I was crying over 23424 things that had built up over the day that likely held zero meaning in the grand scheme of things.
Jordan, who was absolutely terrified, said something in that moment that has become my new mantra.
“Don’t stress about things that don’t need to be stressed about.”
The next morning at work, I took a big piece of paper and marker and wrote this out. I tacked it right in front of my computer and now I look at it at least twenty times throughout the day. I know it seems so simple, but sometimes we need that reminder. I needed that reminder.
I’m really challenging myself to let the little things go. I think every small issue easily gets amplified when also taking on a big challenge and I’m finding myself trying to take more deep breaths, get more fresh air and repeat in my head over and over … Emily, let it effing go.
Okay, I know. This is SO typical for you, Emily. BUT IT’S TRUE. I first came to this idea when I was running (shocker) and started to really look at all of the people I was passing.
I always try to smile or even wave at other runners, I would say it’s reciprocated 25% of the time. While this hurts my heart, I kind of get it. Running takes focus, people are in their own grooves. Running bitch face is a real thing.
However, some people legitimately look miserables and I’m sorry, but I do not understand. YOU’RE RUNNING! You’re moving your body, you’re embracing physical activity, you’re going to feel great when you’re done.
Which is why I’m trying to make each run a fun event where I smile and wave my butt off. I’m also pushing to do this more in daily life, because as they say – a smile really does go a long way. Even if I’m the only one who feels good about it.
4. Whatever’s going to happen, already has.
When I first got accepted to run the marathon, my goal became to finish in 4 hours. A month in, it changed to finishing without walking. Today, it’s simply to finish. I’m trying not to feel bad or “unworthy” because of that, but it’s typical Emily personality to want it to be perfect.
Guess what? It won’t be. It’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be like whatever I imagine it will. I’m learning more and more that it’s important to just be realistic. I’m trying to leave it a that. As I’ve written before, marathon training is effing hard and the actual day of will be even harder.
I keep reminding myself of this: According to a 2012 study by Runners World, Everyday Health, approximately half of one percent of the US population have run a marathon before. This equates to about one out of every 200 people.
I’m learning that not only are there things I realistically cannot do, there are things I don’t even want to do. At this moment, I likely will not do a marathon again. Yes, I’m aware this is what everyone says. Maybe 1/2 marathons will be my sweet spot, maybe 10ks, 5ks! Who knows. But there will be certain mountains I simply cannot move.
I was talking to an executive at work the other day, who has run multiple marathons. I was explaining to her that I’m struggling with the idea of needing to walk or go to the bathroom and that I just have it in my head that “walking” = failure.
Her response? She laughed. Directly at me.
And I’m glad she did. She told me about how when she ran Boston, it was basically a hurricane and she had to actually stop and change her clothes. She told me about eating brownies at mile 20 and walking whenever she needed to.
So I’ve settled on this – when training for a marathon, you literally put all of your hard work, hope and commitment into one day. One. freaking. day. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. It could be 80 degrees and it could be 20 degrees. It could could be windy, raining or shining the hottest sun of all time. You have no idea, you have no control.
There will be mountains you cannot move, there will be challenges that some so impossible they make you question everything you’ve ever thought about yourself. But guess what? Whatever’s going to happen … already has.