Sometimes I think training for a marathon is harder than running the actual marathon. You’re talking 16 to twenty weeks of rigor and attention. I’m not even what anyone, by any stretch of any imagination, would call a natural athlete. While I’m sure I look like an Olympian when I’m running, the truth is, I’ve seen myself in the reflection of windows. I know that whatever machinations my shadow is performing probably looks better than what my actual body is doing. And then come the track workouts.
Still, I take my training seriously, for the most part. I have graphs of data. I hydrate. I write my track plans on my arms so I can remember what the heck I’m supposed to be doing. I hate missing a workout, because I’ll never get the chance to have that workout back. Huge gains are made over a long period of time of doing the little things.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are track and tempo days, respectively. And on each and every one of these days, I start out thinking that there is no way I can do whatever workout my coach has lined up for me. I think she’s crazy, and overconfident in me and my average abilities. Usually, I lace up thinking I’ll do my best, with plans to get through it.
Tuesday was a holiday and as such I slept in, with nebulous plans to get my workout in as the day played out. I headed over to the track around 10, which as smart people know, is the start of the hottest part of the day. I had 12×400 to do at my 3k pace. I got through the first six just fine.
Then my confidence washed away with my sweat. It was hot. I was tired.
This is stupid and I hate myself and everyone and running and why am I out here. It’s taking forever and I want to be done.
The excuses rise up like a monster here:
it’s not like you’re going to win anything. You’re not getting faster. You’re not in great shape. You are already behind the game. This is a waste.
Quitting, though, never entered my mind. I had time. I had energy. I knew I would outlast the workout. I told myself to get it done.
I finished 12 laps around the track with 200 meter active recovery in between. It did take forever. It was hot. My legs felt like wet concrete during the last lap. But I did it. I did all of it.
Maybe I won’t win (fact). Maybe I am older and slower. (Truth).
But I’m also stronger than I was before that workout. And maybe that’s the secret. Maybe success isn’t at the finish line but in all the things we do to get to the start line, to have the courage to stand there, waiting for the gun to go off.