I hear it all the time, “Oh that should be easy for you!” It’s true that at this point, I have run 29 half marathons, 10 full marathons, 1 50K, and 2 50-milers, in addition to countless shorter races. But I am here to tell you, it’s not easy. My path to get here wasn’t easy. And each and every run takes work. The only huge difference between then and now is the mental advantage of knowing what I’m capable of when I push through my barriers.
First, my weight journey has been a long one. I went into the hospital to deliver baby #3 at 238 lbs. Even after I got rid of the weight that naturally goes away after childbirth, I leveled out at a solid 196. In February 2009, I stopped the sporadic work-outs and got serious. My goal: to lose 50 lbs — and hit 146. By June 2009, I was down to 168. When I hit 168, the physical difference was large enough, that I plateau’d. I stayed at 168 for the next year and a half, until I finally realized this was not my goal weight, and I didn’t have to be content with being “ok”. I worked my rear off and by June 2011, I hit 150. Held the weight pretty steady for about a year, then started to put weight back on and topped back out at 162. A couple months ago, I went back to the hard core, serious about being healthy version of me… and here I am, happy to report, that I now weigh 146. My goal weight from over FOUR YEARS ago. It might not be 100+ lbs like some of the inspirational stories I read out there and even some of my personal friends who have accomplished amazing things, but I’m here to say, that at any size, IT IS NOT EASY. It’s hard work. It’s ups and it’s downs… and hopefully in the end, the steps forward outweigh the steps back.
Second, the distance is never easy. It doesn’t matter how many runs I do or how many races I run, if I’m running to my full capability, it is inevitably hard. I may be capable of a 50-miler, but I can promise you I still struggle at many half marathons. In fact, at a 5k this past December, I completely hit a wall at mile 2. TWO. Hit a wall. You’d think as many distance races as I’ve run, this would all come easy and natural, but I’m here to promise, it doesn’t. Even in training, while I occasionally have a double digit run that goes really well, there are days I’ve struggled to get in 5 miles. I ran a 9 miler last week, where I gave myself permission to quit at 6. But then I pushed to 7, then figured I was close enough to at least try for 8, and yes, I ended up doing all 9, but it was a battle, every step. Just Saturday, I had a 20 mile trail race. From mile 5 on, my body was done. Not sure if I was under-fueled, my legs were revolting against the mileage build-up of the week, or the heat, humidity, and extreme hills were beating me up – but, no kidding, I think I walked at least half that race. HALF. I was walking fast, but still… I even logged the race as a “hiking” workout instead of a “run”. It was that bad. Again, it’s not easy. I struggle. Sometimes I fail. But I keep pushing. It’s not easy for me at any distance.
As a coach, I hear the same struggles over and over… I’m here to tell you:
– There are days I don’t want to get out of bed.
– There are runs where I feel awful the whole time – stomach issues or heavy legs or mental demons.
– I get frustrated with my pace all. the. time. (You’d think with all my experience, I’d be fast, but nope, still the same ol’ mid-pack runner that I’ve always been… back-of-the-pack on trails.)
– I struggle with comparing myself to others.
– The same “I can’t” and “Just” and “Only” that everyone else does come out of my mouth.
– There are days that I wonder why I torture my body and want to quit it all.
– I like to eat, and often I fall into the “over-rewarding your run” category, and I have to struggle to get back to the right intake.
– I’ve quit runs. Just flat out gave up and declared the run over.
– I’ve epicly ruined races by not following the race plan.
– There have been runs where I made a list of excuses why it was bad, when I know the truth is that I mentally just stopped trying because it was “hard”.
If you haven’t faced any of these things, you probably will! All this to say, running isn’t easy. Staying healthy isn’t easy. But when you do it, when you set your mind to it, and push through no matter the circumstances or possible “excuses”, it’s a triumphant moment, and it is always always WORTH IT. So get up, lace your shoes, and go for a run!