Monday, May 6, 2013

"But I'm not a serious marathoner."

It's all a matter of perspective. The objective fact is that, contrary to the opinions of most people who know me, and to what you might assume because of the fact that I write this blog: I'm not a very intense runner. Being "a runner" is a key feature of my current identity, and one of the lenses through which I see the world. Running - and other training that helps me run better - takes up a lot of my time, and while I take training for a marathon fairly seriously, I am not what most in the running community would consider a serious marathoner.

I don't have any natural, God-given talent for running, and so I do have to work pretty hard at it in order to finish the one or two marathons that I sign up for every year. And while I do work hard, I occasionally miss training runs, stay up later than I should, and don't always fuel myself properly. I'm a few pounds over my ideal running weight, which probably slows me down, but I just can't bring myself to skip dessert in the name of shaving those few minutes off my finish times. I'm currently pretty focused on qualifying to run the Boston Marathon, so I'm paying more attention to my training paces and race times than I ever did before, and honestly it doesn't sit well with me. It's not who I am, but I know that it's the only way I'm going to achieve that goal. Training for a "BQ" (a Boston-qualifying finish time) has made me a more serious runner than I've ever been, but truthfully I'm about as un-intense as a runner can be, and still technically be a marathoner.

But what I am beginning to appreciate is how little that matters. To people who don't run, the distinction between a serious marathoner and someone like me is meaningless. I caught myself saying to someone recently that yes I am currently training for my fifteenth marathon, "but I'm not a serious marathoner." As soon as I said it, I realized how silly it sounded. At a dinner party Saturday night, my husband told one of our hosts that I'd run twenty miles that morning, and her jaw dropped. "Today? You did that today?" My instinct was to explain that while yes, I had in fact run twenty miles that morning, "it was slow," or "I had to walk a little bit," or find some other way to communicate: "Don't be too impressed. I'm not a very good runner." But I stopped myself. She thought that sounded pretty awesome, and you know what? She is right. What distance runners do on a regular basis - whether we're "good" at it or not - is pretty amazing. We set lofty goals, work through the struggle, and eventually we finish. I'm hereby committing to stop trying to lower other people's expectations of me in this way, and instead to embrace the awesome.

4 comments:

  1. I'm a new runner and I'm already doing this! I talk about how I can "only do 3.5 miles at one time" or about how slow I am, when really I should be celebrating the fact that I'm running at all! This is huge for me, because, as you said, I'm not a natural athlete. Thanks for this good message.

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    1. Exactly, we should always be celebrating. Every run is a victory - for some of us more than others. Thanks for joining me in the ongoing celebration of our being awesome!

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  2. A group of gals that I ran with when I lived in Brooklyn always reminded me to never say "just" or "only" when discussing my mileage. We get out there consistently. We run. No matter the distance we're runners.

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    1. YES! That's a good group of gals to have. A lot of my half-marathoner friends do this: "But it was just a half." I never want to hear that again. Awesome is as awesome does.

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