What's a little friendly competition?

Not so friendly, it turns out, if it starts to get in the way of your goals. I'm a pretty competitive person. I knew I would have a tough time learning how to run without some sort of ultimate goal towards which I could work. I also really really don't like exercising unless there's a purpose to what I'm doing. Going out for a run "because it's good for me" has never really cut it. This past month has been a stressful one and as a result, I ended up sitting out most of the week with a nasty cold. I was feeling very frustrated about not being able to get my training in, and have had a handful of bad runs back to back to back. I felt discouraged, and really started getting down on myself. Did I think I could finish the marathon in under 6 hours? Did I think I can finish at all?

Sometimes it's good to remind ourselves that we are only human, and our goals are only markers to which we, as humans have given some sort of tangential significance. They're great to have if you need a target, but if they are holding you back and stressing you out where you feel trapped and paralyzed by the fear of not making them, what good do they do you? This was where I found myself the last few days; agonizing about everything that wasn't good enough.

Good enough for who?

Good enough to what?

Good enough to satisfy all of the nagging insecurities that plague us, as human beings, each day, and that push us to better ourselves in the innumerable ways possible? So that we can be perfect?

And what is good enough? That thought really hit me. I thought to myself, "if I could someday, maybe in a few years, run a marathon in under 5 hours, that'll be good enough. I'd be happy with that." Then it hit me what I was saying. I've been training for this marathon for four months, and I'm already setting up a cutoff for myself to define what's "good enough"? Part of my reason for signing up for this marathon with Team in Training was to establish a baseline level of fitness and proper form that I could use to maintain a level of activity for the rest of my life. I wanted to learn to run, and to run, walk, crawl, finish a marathon to show myself that I can do it - that I can be stronger than any negativity or any trap I might set out for myself. And I wanted to do that in tandem with raising money for a cause in which I believe in so strongly. And all of a sudden, I was telling myself that this wasn't good enough? That I shouldn't be happy to be where I am right now, because I can do better, and be better? That's crap, and I've been telling myself this crap for too many years now. It's time to stop. It's time for me to go out for a run just because it's good for me. I don't have to be fast. I'm not fast now, and regardless of whether I get faster in the future, it won't last forever. That doesn't mean I should stop doing something I enjoy - whether it's running or swimming, or any sort of exercise. Being a good runner will in no way improve my quality of life, but finding enjoyment out of the fitness that comes from regular exercise, and to a degree, the exercise itself, absolutely will.

I don't know what will happen on November 6th. But I know where I'll be: at the starting line of the New York City Marathon. And anything past that, I'm trying not to let into my head. As long as I finish, I'll be happy. Or as Edmund Hilary once said, "it's not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."


Frustration and Motivation

I've been back in school for two weeks now, and it has completely thrown me off balance. I think my training has been the thing that has suffered the most from my lack of equilibrium, and I'm trying to keep myself positive and work through. I keep having to remind myself what I'm doing:
1) learning how to run properly so that it can be something I can do for the rest of my life
2) becoming less of a headcase and finding a balance in my life that involves exercise
3) becoming healthier
4) taking the time to work through some old cobwebs and cleaning them out, so to speak
5) running the NYC Marathon.
Doing this involves less of me beating myself up and more of me relaxing and taking things in life as they come. I'm noticing that my training has been pretty cyclical, and when I'm pushing through tougher parts of it, I tend to blog more, but that's what the blog is here for. I started out with a lot of fears and anxiety about my training, and wasn't terribly consistent. Then I hit my stride and began making significant mental and physical gains. Now I'm back to fear and inconsistency, but I'm trying to keep it in perspective. I've had a bumpy last few weeks - I had my 13 miler that went bust on the Brooklyn Bridge, then a 14 miler that I finished but was not particularly pretty (and took me a while to recover from), and then last weekend's pacing disaster. So it's little surprise to me that I've been a bit anxious for this weekend - at most, I'll end up doing 16 miles, but more than anything I want to be strong and consistent throughout my whole run. On reflection, though, I think that's the essence of training - forward progress, finding yourself in uncharted territory, overcoming fears and anxiety about said territory, and then making more forward progress. I will get back into balance, this is just another hill that will make me stronger.