Anyone who has run a marathon has had the same conversation. In the hallway at work, at the bar with friends, some family function. A person basically says, “Running 26 miles, I could never do that. I don’t even think I could run X number of miles.”
For years as a runner I had the same opinion. And in response to that disbelief I usually tell the person that they probably could do it. What it takes is time. The time to put in mileage and train. It’s actually not a superhuman feat, otherwise, I wouldn’t have finished two and be training for my third. But, in almost every training run, particularly the long ones, the thought comes to the fore, “Am I really gonna be able to do this again? Run 26 miles, faster than these training runs. That’s just crazy.”
When that happens I have to remind myself that, yes, you have done this before, and yes, there is no reason to think you won’t be able to do it again. And standing there, staring at a watch trying to sync with a satellite, shoes on the pavement, some long number of miles ahead… it’s the same feeling as staring at a blank sheet of paper. The block or canvas waiting to be crafted into an artistic expression. It can be terrifying, wondering if past successes can be repeated. Recently that answer has been a resounding NO on training runs.
It’s been a few weeks of struggle. Training for a fall race in Birmingham is never fun. Race conditions are likely to be cool and relatively dry, average temps around 50°. By the time spring is over and training season really begins a great day is when you can get low 70s in the morning, and any afternoon training is stifling and sticky. And so the average pace drops. The mileage gets a little tougher. You know this. It’s expected. But it can be demoralizing. Especially after a great winter race season, improving times, setting PRs, the summer heat sets in and running is just no fun. I could tell myself the conditions are just tough, and I could try to calculate equivalent paces and convince myself that I was making progress even if I’ve been slower on an absolute scale.
But then we had a cold front and conditions became pretty amazing for Birmingham in July, and the struggle continued. I missed my mileage goals on long runs. My program is long, so I felt ok adjusting and letting long runs slip a little, knowing I would still have plenty of time to catch up. But that break in the weather made me feel like I’d really missed it. My paces didn’t recover in the cooler weather, and long runs weren’t any easier. Cue the crisis of confidence. Am I really going to be able to run another marathon?
Of course that question is a little different now. The first time it was the insanity of the task ahead. Now it’s the pressure of goals and expectations. Am I really trying to do this, oh, and really, that goal you set, are you serious? The missed runs, the struggle, all served to convince myself that I’m crazy for attempting this again. And so the last few weeks have been miserable. What’s supposedly my therapy had become a torment.
Sixteen miles. On the schedule for yesterday. And for the first time in more than a month, I hit my mileage. I didn’t feel great. There were nagging thoughts most of the way. Ultimately it was just a matter of doing it, thoughts be damned. After as much time as I’ve spent mentally kicking myself and demoralizing myself, there was a moment yesterday when it became obvious that it’s just a case of doing it. What felt miserable enough to make me want to stop was sufferable. I didn’t have to stop, I could just keep going. Stop thinking. Just act.
Yes. I’m really gonna do this again.
A good read. It’s never just a write up in a lad mag. Culture reaches deep, a reflection of greater truth. And in our culture we certainly need to reevaluate how people are valued.
But what all these issues, no matter how gigantically separated an Esquire puff piece and a Tennessee mother’s jailing for meth may seem, reflect back at us: How, in this country, every barometer by which female worth is measured—from the superficial to the life-altering, the appreciative to the punitive—has long been calibrated to “dude,” whether or not those measurements are actually being taken by dudes. Men still run, or at bare minimum have shaped and codified the attitudes of, the churches, the courts, the universities, the police departments, the corporations that so freely determine women’s worth. As Beyoncé observed last year, “Money gives men power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.”
Too much in this article to pull a quote from it, so I’ll just leave it here…
It’s not about Constitutional Rights, the NRA is just a front for manufacturers seeking to maintain profits. Add in a drug war of our creation and you get the military style conflicts raging in Latin America. And then what do we focus our outrage on? Children fleeing those conflicts, trying to illegally get into the US.
The surge of migrants coming to the U.S. from Central America is being fueled in part by the movement of guns heading in the other direction, from U.S. dealerships doing brisk business with the help of porous guns laws and a powerful gun lobby.