On lifelong fitness and the relativity of achievement

One of the goals I set for myself when I signed up for the NYC Marathon was to learn to run properly so that I could develop a healthy habit that would, ideally, last a lifetime. This was one of the smartest moves I could have made. The last couple of weeks, I have continued running, slowly, surely, and have surprised myself at the leaps I have made in my personal fitness. It's so exciting to have faster paces, and personal continuous-running records  but by Saturday evening, I was feeling a good amount of discomfort in my knee and knew I was overdoing it. I missed having coaches to talk to about my training, both the aches and pains as well as the fitness breakthroughs.  It felt counter-intuitive to remind myself that I was still very much a beginner - hadn't I just done a marathon? - and that I wasn't invincible and needed to make slow, steady increases, not large (exciting) jumps. It was hard to go back to two and three mile runs when I had been logging 12+ miles every Saturday morning, but I realized that there are so many layers to the enjoyment of running. There is the physical benefit of it, which almost always gets me out of bed in the mornings; I always feel so much more awake and capable after a morning run, even if it's only two miles. And then there is the exhilaration of pushing yourself past your capabilities. But more than anything, I've been reminding myself that I'm not out there for that run as much as to develop lifelong habits that will keep my body and mind healthy for decades to come, and pushing myself to the point of potential injury does nothing to further that goal. It's a difficult balance to find - how do you find a way to push yourself but still take care of your body?

Another goal I am gearing up for in 2012 is to complete the NYRR 9+1 program to guarantee myself an entry in the 2013 NYC Marathon. Yes, that's right, I'm already excited to do it again! I want to get enough conditioning under my belt so that, instead of hitting the proverbial wall, I can challenge myself to keep going with a smile on my face. In short, I want to enjoy the experience. I'm so excited to have these NYRR races to keep my focus, but I have been concerned that it could get repetitive, and that I could get frustrated if I have a string of great races and then, for whatever reasons, don't. But so many aspects of the race can be great without any sort of focus on the time - even the most difficult struggles can be the most rewarding. And just as I was able to do for many parts of my marathon training, I think it will be a tremendous opportunity to challenge myself mentally as well as physically. I have dealt with so many fears in the past six months, some of which I have written here. That has been, and continues to be, one of my biggest struggles. I held so much fear for the unknown what-ifs that sometimes I would become paralyzed or even retreat to escape the hold that those fears had over me. One of my biggest fears was disappointment: disappointing others and myself. The biggest irony was that, through all of my worrying and fear about failure and disappointment, I would often become consumed by it, and lose sight of my goals. It has only been recently when I have been able to give my goals the attention that they deserve - no more and no less - and develop the confidence in myself to keep working towards then despite nagging doubts, that I have been able to make significant strides forward. On one hand, this might seem fairly depressing - why work for something at all if it is going to cause you so much difficulty? For me, this question can be answered by the beauty and value of each difficulty we encounter:

"When a butterfly emerges from its cocoon, there is a great struggle. If you were to cut open the cocoon in order to spare the new butterfly this struggle, it would never thrive. The struggle to get out is needed to build the wing muscles. Without the struggle, the butterfly will never fly." 


  1. Great post :) Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in running more and more when really we need to just focus on running smart to get better.

    That's exciting about doing the 9+1 to get guaranteed entry in 2013 - I imagine it will be tough but you'll be such a strong runner after :)

  2. great job, hats off to you. The only one I've done is the annual peachtree marathon in atlanta- july 4th.

  3. What a great goal! I look forward to reading more about your fitness journey!

  4. so exciting you are in, again! Me too..I'm just scared for the fee!