If you know me, you know that I have a love/hate relationship with running. Despite my husband’s confusion over it, I actually think that for many runners this type of relationship with our sport is fairly common . Ultimately, I know that running is something I love, it’s something that’s good for me (mentally, as well as physically), it connects me to some amazing people and places, and I never regret doing it.
But sometimes, it’s just tough to want to actually do it – to get out the door, to continue to push through a hard workout, to follow through miles that can feel like a slog and, especially, to take care of the little (but actually big) things like strength and maintenance. But even the hard and/or boring runs somehow always make the day better, and overall they provide me with a kind of happiness that nothing else can.
In anticipation of the trials, there have been a number of interviews with qualifiers of various backgrounds/levels/goals circulating the internet. As for me, I’ve been in a bit of a slump with our move – to a new place and away from my training partners (miss you guys!), and especially with coming out of my recovery period a bit preemptively when I found myself suddenly qualified to run in the Olympic Trials marathon (SURPRISE!!). What I’m saying is that it’s been a particularly difficult time for me in the inspiration and motivation department.
But last week, I read one of these interviews – with Brett Ely – and something she said resonated and made me realize what I’ve been lacking in my preparation for this Saturday’s race. Her words motivated me through my workout that morning and inspired me to reflect on and remember why I run.
You can, and should, read the interview with Brett here. But so you don’t have to navigate away immediately, the particular part of the interview that I’m referring to is a story Brett tells about a former teammate:
“The best advice I ever received wasn’t actually meant to be advice. One of my teammates, Soh Rui Yong, was featured in a Singaporean sports documentary as he prepared for his first marathon. In the documentary, they asked our coach, Ian Dobson, “What is Rui’s best quality as a runner?” He said something along the lines of this: “He believes what he is doing is important.” (From Brett’s interview on Saltyrunning.com, linked above)
Even though this advice applies 100% of the time and, in retrospect, seems fairly obvious, it had particular impact because over the past 7 weeks I’ll admit that I haven’t been believing what I’m doing is important. I’ve been running, doing workouts a bit half-heartedly, but mostly in an attempt just to make sure that I show up to the line on Saturday able to finish a marathon. And if I’m going to be very honest, I’ve been deliberately telling myself what I’m doing is not important, to avoid a feeling of disappointment or …embarrassment.
As this weekend draws closer, I’m reminded that even though the trials isn’t the goal it once was, it’s still a representation of something that was once very important to me, and that I put in years of work (hard work!), of goal setting, of improvement to be able to participate in Saturday’s race. This weekend, I’ll be lining up with up with so many women I’ve trained with, raced with, emailed for advice, and admired over the past 10 years that I’ve been running marathons. The outcome of this race won’t necessarily be important (and honestly, it probably won’t be pretty), but as the platitude goes, “it’s the journey, not the destination”.
So while I’d LOVE to get out there on Saturday feeling like this:
It’s quite possible it will go a bit more like this (it’s gonna be 80 degrees!!!):
and I’ll feel like this:
But despite how it looks and how I feel physically, you can be sure that deep down, I’m having a great time and enjoying the experience of racing alongside the nation’s fastest marathoners and some of my best friends, who like me, believe what we’re doing is important.