On this morning’s long run I was overwhelmed with an intense sense of gratitude. Gratitude for my health, my sport, my people, and my life in general.
I had twenty miles on the schedule today, my last long run before Boston, and although I know I’m capable there’s always some anxiety about running farther than you have in months. Initially, I was bummed and weary because I’d be flying solo today and the idea of being on the roads alone for over two and a half hours felt daunting. Fortunately, I quickly reframed my thinking. I realized today’s run was my first solo long run since my ‘official’ (I use that term very loosely) Boston training kicked off. I’ve been lucky enough to have company for every single long run I’ve embarked on over the past ten(ish) weeks. I’ve had a badass lady gang by my side for the most relaxed eighteen miler I’ve ever experienced, as well as the worst twelve miler of my life (which included two miles of run-walking just to make it back to my car), and for everything in between. I’ve made many new friends on those runs and deepened friendships that were still pretty new a few months ago. Running alone this morning allowed me to appreciate how privileged I am to be surrounded by the ridiculously supportive running community that I have.
This morning’s running offered me a unique opportunity to reflect on the training I’ve completed over the past few months and truly appreciate how far I’ve come since being sidelined for three months with an injury. A year ago I was doing the same thing, running twenty miles in preparation for Marathon Monday but it was a completely different experience. A year ago, I ran every run fast, it didn’t matter how short or long the run was, in my mind, I had to hit a certain pace or I wasn’t working hard enough. This constant need to meet the expectation I set for myself led to overtraining. I vividly remember the pain I felt in my hamstring during those last couple of long runs leading up to Patriot’s Day in 2016. I told myself it was nothing because if I was injured I wouldn’t be able to manage twenty miles. But despite successful (albeit painful) training runs, I was injured. Today I learned what twenty miles on a training run should really feel like and it feels pretty damn good.
A year ago I may have been training harder but now I’m training smarter and my body is saying “thank you”.
This time last year I had no interest in fueling or hydrating during my long runs. I let myself believe that if I could survive a twenty mile training run with no water and no fuel, that meant I was pretty badass. Now I think it meant I was pretty stupid. Thankfully, I took a nutrition class in the fall and learning the science behind what’s happening to my body during a long run motivated me to take hydration and fuel seriously. To my surprise, I made it to mile twenty today without spasming calves or an intense craving for gallons of fruit punch.
It’s amazing what happens when you give your body what it needs.
Finally, I felt gratitude for the strength I felt in my legs and my lungs. I was intensely appreciative of the ability my legs have to carry me around my city for 20 miles. I never once thought about how many calories I was burning and whether or not my stomach looked flat in the new tank top I was wearing. I was thankful for the Lane 9 Project and the fierce women I’m working with who have encouraged me to be stronger and more appreciative of my body everyday.
Today I felt more appreciation for my sport than I’ve felt in a long time. I finished my run proud, exhausted, strong, and smiling. I was overcome with self-love as I took those last few steps and I cannot think of anything better to gain from marathon training.