I set a big running goal for myself this year: the 2019 Philadelphia Marathon.
I’ve got all the emotions about this one. Excited. Nervous. Proud. Determined. Terrified.
You see, this will be my first marathon distance, and while I’ve trained tons of women through their own marathons… I have held back on doing one myself.
This is a big, audacious, motherfucking HUGE goal. At least to me, at this stage of my journey. Even when my body was in top shape, it scared me. Now I’m starting from scratch, 40 pounds above my fighting weight.
Running Injuries and Setbacks
Every year I’ve said THIS IS THE YEAR, and then found a million excuses not to. Last year was really supposed to be my year… but plantar fasciitis in the spring followed by nagging knee pain all summer kept me benched. I knew I had to fix those issues before training for 26.2 miles, so I got busy.
I tried a couple simple options to fix my knee—gel shots and cortisone shots—but nothing helped. An MRI showed a ragged meniscus and a Baker’s cyst, and my doc suggested surgery and not running anymore.
What? That was a solid HELL NO for me.
I found another doctor.
Dr. Kim suggested that the real issues were a tight & inflamed IT band combined with lateral strength imbalances that caused my kneecap to track off-center. I got myself into physical therapy in November, and after 4 months of hard work, I started running again on March 4th!
A Mindset Shift
It feels so fucking good to be running again. I’ll be honest, even though it brings me great joy to coach my Run Your Best Life community members and see them succeed, I’ve also been a teeny bit jelly of them too. I had to do A LOT of work to manage my thoughts and feelings about not training (more on the process I use to keep my brain from spinning out in episode 33 of the podcast, “How to Coach Yourself”).
Long story short, my mind kept worrying that I’d never start running again. That I’d end up a running coach who couldn’t run, or at most I’d only be able to do 5Ks. I was brokenhearted thinking that maybe my first doctor was right and that I should find another way to get exercise.
Ugh, when I let those thoughts into my brain, I felt awful. So I had to get busy finding different ways to think. Whether or not running was in my future, focusing on how awful I felt about not running was probably the least helpful thing I could do. It just made me feel worse.
So I just decided to believe and act as if it was all going to be fine. When one thing didn’t work, I tried another. I refused to get mired down in self-pity because that would have kept me from taking the action of seeking out solutions. When the negative thinking came into my head (which it did, frequently), I usually allowed myself to wallow for about 60 seconds and then I deliberately refocused on what I wanted to be thinking: “As long as I keep doing the work, I’ll be able to run again.”
Starting Over: Training as a Beginner
It worked! But after nearly a year away from running, I’m basically a beginner again. I’m slower than before and 40 pounds heavier than I was at this time last year. Right now my pace is around a 17-minute mile, which means I have work to do to meet the 7-hour time limit in November!
I’ll get there by sticking to my training plan like my life depends upon it. Right now I’m going through the 5K training program that I teach in Run Your Best Life. It’s a course designed for beginners, and I’m going through it right alongside my students!
It’s actually pretty fun being a beginner again, and rediscovering all those things about running that I missed so much, like running in light rain, or losing myself in a podcast and completely forgetting about the time. And especially getting back into races—I did my first post-injury 5K a few weeks back (the Phillies 5K) with Andy and my friend Karen. It was cold and windy but still felt soooo good.
This past weekend I did the Philly Hot Chocolate 5K (full race report next week), and two weeks from now I’m doing the Blood, Sweat and Beers 6K. Further down the road, I’ll be doing the Wisconsin Ragnar in September and of course the Philly Marathon in November. Between now and then I’ll be adding at least one race a month including a half marathon over the summer. Maybe I’ll even see YOU at one of them!
I’m back, baby! It feels so good to be a runner again.
Until next week,