After returning home from the Phoenix marathon with what I felt was a disappointing performance, I decided to take some time to look back on my training, look back at my habits, and consider my next steps. At the time, I really did not know what that meant exactly – my next steps. I seriously doubted my abilities, my confidence was gone, and my spirit was broken. My quest for the 4:00 marathon seemed to be getting further and further from my reach. I began to feel just as I had in years past regarding my weight. Many failed attempts to lose the weight, and each time, ending up heavier than before I started. It’s a defeating feeling, and a very dark place to live in.
It’s now been about 3 weeks since the marathon and I’ve had a chance to step back and evaluate the situation. There is definitely a correlation between losing weight and trying to run a 4 hour marathon. In each situation I set a goal, and didn’t meet the goal, several times. Both presented some external factors, that I had no control over, as well as several that I did have control of. However, I do believe that each time I have not been successful in meeting my goal, whether it be weight loss or running, I’ve walked away learning something new about myself. So what are my “take-aways” this time? Well, number one, I acknowledge the fact that while I may have tried several times to lose weight, without success, I did ultimately achieve my goal and lose the weight. It didn’t happen overnight. Some weeks I gained, some weeks I hit a plateau. But I kept working at it, and I made it happen. I used those experiences to drive me to the place I most wanted to be. And ultimately, that’s what I will do again with my running. I won’t be hanging up my sneakers any time soon! Instead, I’m making some changes and trying to look at this situation from a new perspective. Yes, there will be bumps in my road, challenges to face, and I will need to work hard. Looking back to where I have been, I am proud of where I am today. I was not an athlete, heck I couldn’t even run the mile in school. I spent my time watching episodes of Saved by the Bell and eating boxes of Twinkies and gallons of ice cream (butter brickle was my favorite!). Today, I am an 11 time marathon finisher living a healthy life. Sure, there’s always room for progress, but I have a new appreciation of all that I have already accomplished.
So what’s next for me? I have a few half marathons planned for the spring/summer, and will plan to run a fall full. I’ve already been working on making some changes that I believe will put me in a better position to be successful in reaching my goal. I went in to the Phoenix marathon under-trained and over-trained all at the same time. How you might ask? Well, I did a whole lot of the wrong kind of running. A cold brutal winter kept me inside for most of my long (and short) runs. I worked a grueling schedule and didn’t get enough sleep. My diet had gotten sloppy and my training lacked quality. So here’s what I’m working and focusing on this summer:
- Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
- Eliminate all processed foods and eat a clean diet.
- Spend more time focusing on recovery (eating foods that promote recovery and reduce inflammation, Epsom salt baths, massages, rest days).
- Attend a yoga class once a week to work on flexibility, core strength and breathing.
- Revamp the training plan to include specific paces for each run, and each run shall have a distinct purpose.
- Run the majority of my runs outside (this will improve my breathing economy and endurance on hills)
- I will be more present in my mindset and not just go through the motions.
I know there is a possibility that even in making these changes, I may not reach my goal. It’s a possibility with any goal we set, but, nothing risked, nothing gained!
Have you faced challenges in meeting goals? How did you overcome the obstacles?