When Running Goals Become Just Running
It's a strange thing when a previous goal becomes simply a stepping stone towards another, bigger goal.
For over a year, my running goals were relatively centered around the 13.1 miles of a half marathon. I trained for months to push my body into a state where it could run that mileage and then I spent as much or more time training my body to run that mileage faster. All that time, my focus was still on 13.1 miles.
I didn't realize how much of a mental block I had around that distance until I passed it.
It was a pretty dreary, nasty Sunday, following up a day when I had had a pretty solid 7 miler and my body was feeling good. I was up early to run - unintentionally close to the time of day that I've done my half marathons in the past - and I cranked out 14 miles. It felt awesome. Both my body and my mind had crashed through my previous personal record distance and suddenly, a marathon didn't strike me as such a stupid idea.
My sister-in-law was in town with my brother and asked how it felt to have run more than a half marathon that morning with no masses of runners and observers, no fanfare, none of the normal accoutrements of the race atmosphere with which I had experienced that kind of distance in the past. We talked about that briefly and then turned our attention to more pressing matters, Biscuitville being chief among them.
That conversation did put things in an interesting perspective for me, though. There's a sense of accomplishment after completing a race, particularly when months of training and thought have gone into it. I certainly felt accomplished after finishing this training run, but there's nothing too glamorous about slogging it out in the neighborhoods on a nasty Sunday morning.
Having broken through to a distance longer than a half marathon with my body feeling great, I no longer felt like 14, 15, and 20 mile training runs were that daunting. And hell, by the time I'm at 20, what's another 6.2? I do know that mile 20 is when the majority of marathoners drop out of the race, but my concept of these distances has shifted into a much more accessible place than it was even 2 weeks ago.
Now, having notched a 15 miler in weather that ranged from cold and windy to cold and driving rain, I feel relatively unstoppable.
Shout out to Clif Bars, tiny water bottles, and my sweet, running fanny pack.
I wrote in previous posts about how odd it was that I would be setting this PR before my training plan was even halfway through so it's quite possible I psyched myself out a bit. Cranking out 14 miles has given me new energy and confidence in my running ability so I urge you to find a breakthrough point if you're getting bogged down on a goal, running or otherwise.
Just keep grinding it out.