I last wrote here the day before I ran the London marathon. Since then, I went quiet. First here, and then also on social media.
I’ve always been a crowdsourcer. In the best possible light, this means I am interested in what others think and in their advice. Less wonderfully, though, I have sometimes listened to others more than I have listened to myself. Social media really amplified this aspect of my personality. As the influence and presence of social media grew, the”likes”, “dislikes” and comments became ever more present and I got caught up in that. I became too invested in the responses to what I was writing and posting.
In early May I went on a running and writing retreat in Oregon. It was an incredible experience for a lot of different reasons. Something that really stuck with me was a comment made by our writing instructor, Marianne Elliott, that “to many women, feedback is like crack cocaine”. That really stuck with me, and wriggled within me, and woke me up in the night. Because I realised that for me, feedback had become too addictive and was beginning to shape my output, whether a post on social media or a blog. I wasn’t writing from the inside out anymore, I was writing from the outside in. And it didn’t feel right, honest, or good anymore.
So I quit everything for a while so I could figure out what my own voice was, and how it felt to not get feedback on it.
4 months in, I am dipping my toe back in. I have loved having the time off (which makes social media sound like a job, and that tells you a lot). But I have also missed the community of friends I have on social media, especially the friends who live far away and who I don’t see in my daily life. So I’m back and I’m also back writing. I have reconnected with my running, and my own feelings and thoughts, and I am writing from the inside out again.
And I’m loving running again. Damn. That one just crept up on me. Just when you think things are one way, they change. Late spring of 2016 I started heart rate training with Another Mother Runner’s HR training program and their coach, MK Fleming. It’s been a long old road, and a slow old road. But the gentle build up and the many, many easy miles allowed me to build up my stamina and my enjoyment for running again. London was a joy, from beginning to end. I measured and pushed my efforts and smiled the whole way. I was loving it.
So I carried on heart rate training for the Twin Cities marathon in October. At the beginning I did not do so well. I was tired and lethargic and did not do all the things I should have been doing. By mid August (6 weeks before my race..) I was so tired I could barely climb up a flight of stairs, even though I was trying to run 20 milers. A blood test later and I was on a high dose of iron pills for severe anemia which my doctor thinks has been building up for a long time. 1 month into those (and yes 2 weeks before the race) and I was feeling like I was on steroids. Fantastic. Twin Cities was a fabulous race – gorgeous cities, my mother as the most fabulous cheer squad, and running into the BAMR cheer squad at mile 23 was the lit I needed. I ran conservatively and still improved on London with a 4:03 in pouring rain.
So nearly 6 weeks on from Twin Cities and I’m ready to train again. I’ve taken some time off to recover but I don’t want to lose my fitness, or enthousiasm.
I’ve spent some time doing what I always intend to do, which is to really take some time to figure out what my goal is. Yep – because as I’ve outlined above, I can easily be talked into things, including other people’s goals. And so I have realised that I’ve got some hunger back. I want to do some hard workouts. I want to try things that I’m not sure I can do. And yes, I want to BQ again. I love that race to distraction, I love how Boston treats runners (i.e. just makes you feel like a rockstar from the moment you arrive in the city) and I love that, right now, qualifying is a real BHAG*. I’d need to take at least 10 minutes off my Twin Cities time, more if I wanted to be sure of a space. I considered various coaches and various training methods. Heart rate training has been incredible for me, but I want to push myself a bit harder. Also – if I wanted to criticise it at all, I never spent any time at marathon pace in training. And while I deeply believe you shouldn’t spend too much time in that zone in training, I also like to prepare my body and mind for exactly what I want it to do on race day. So after much thought (i.e surfing around the net) I’ve decided to go with Train Like a Mother’s Crush the Distance plan – a more “traditional” plan, and to keep the easy runs as easy as I’ve learned to make them this past year and a half. I’m 2 weeks in and loving it.
So onwards into the Christmas season where I am always SO happy to have a race plan. It gives structure to a time of year that has very little and forces me out of the house and out on my own – yet another way in which running saves me. As always, life is full of change but my plan gives me a small controllable area of my life. Updates to follow!
*A big hairy assed goal…