I think most of us have been told at some point to “know your limit.” Whether it is with exercise, food, work, or even driving a car, that phrase often pops up from someone a little older and a little wiser. Back in November when I impulsively registered for my first marathon (and registered for a hard one), my logic was that this goal would help me through a time of moving, job changing, financial instability, and the winter blues. But as I got settled back in Vermont (yay, Vermont!), I realized that although these areas of my life were in an upswing, marathon training put a significant amount of stress on an already stressful few months. Living between three homes, dodging snowy and icy days, and starting a new job constantly collided with my training schedule. I began getting nervous that I was behind in my running and I had nightmares of falling to pieces on mile 1 of the race. I cursed the Vermont snow when I would normally be its top cheerleader, and I began getting angry with myself for not being in better running shape.
A few weeks ago I called my veteran-marathoner and still super-athlete dad for some advice. His logic is always much more direct than mine. With a simple “don’t be crazy” and a suggestion of changing my race to the half marathon and registering for a full fall marathon, I sighed a bit of relief. He reminded me that there is no reason to risk injury or to add more stress to life. The half marathon is certainly doable, and it is still a wonderful accomplishment. Now, I am enjoying my runs and not worrying too much about my schedule.
I’ve also realized that I have a “limit” to competition. I have some power-house friends who run the NYC and Boston marathons and average 6-7 minute miles, friends who will be out running 13 miles in -10 degree weather, and friends who cannot even comprehend skipping a day of running (or running with me and my solid 10-minute mile pace). Me? Meh-not so much. I’m competitive to a certain degree—I like to climb hard and reach new goals, and I like to “feel the burn” on workouts—but I have zero desire to do what these crazy friends of mine do (although I fully support their “craziness”). And I think I got caught up in their definitions of competition instead of sticking to my comfortable competitive zone. We all have different athletic needs, different bodies, and different goals. I’m starting to feel comfortable as a runner, and I have found running partners with similar mid-competitive goals. As always, it’s important to know and be comfortable with your mind and body.
So, cheers to the half marathon in June and cheers to knowing my limits!