This morning's 12 mile run threatened to ruin all of that.
It really wasn't terrible - nothing horrible, like an injury, happened. But it was just not a good run. It was one of those runs that had me questioning my decision to tackle another marathon. It was just hard. My legs were tired. My body was tired. My mind wasn't into it. It seemed like the whole thing was uphill. First I was cold, then I was hot. I felt like I was moving at turtle speed but my pace was a good 20 seconds slower than an average run of that distance. I got frustrated.
We've all had these runs.
It's so easy to let the doubt creep in after a hard run. Will I be able to maintain my goal pace if I can barely maintain a pace that's this much slower? Will I be able to complete 26.2 miles if 12 is this hard?
But instead of doubting, when I got home, I celebrated. Not that it was over, but that I did it. I finished the run. This is a run I can build off of and learn from.
When I taper in the weeks before a marathon, one thing I like to do is look back at my training log and celebrate my successes. Of course this means the days where 18 miles felt great, the tempo runs that were good and fast and easy, and the relaxing runs that I simply enjoyed. But this also means celebrating the bad runs. The runs that I didn't think I would make it through. The runs I didn't want to make it through because throwing in the towel would have been easier. These are the runs that remind me how strong I really am. These are the runs where I didn't give up. Those are the runs where my body and mind proved to me that they can keep going even when they don't want to.
When I hit mile 23 of that marathon and my legs are tired, my mind is frustrated, and everything starts to hurt, these are the runs that I can reflect on. I draw strength from knowing I powered through it in training and I can power through it again.
These are the runs where I prove to myself that I am a good runner. These are the days I'm proud of my accomplishments. It's not always supposed to be easy. It's supposed to hurt sometimes. If every run was easy, it wouldn't be a challenge, and without a challenge, it wouldn't be an accomplishment.