Being a modest runner for perhaps the past 10 years of my life and participating in some charity 16km runs (and one time, a half marathon), I decided it was time to take it seriously and get it over it, aka, go the whole distance and run the whole marathon. Because naturally, that is the next logical step. With everything you do in life, you need to feel you are making progress; running is not exception. And now, less than two months away from it, I am looking forward for the marathon to be over. Not so much because I am super excited, or I am looking forward to the challenge, but I just want it to be over. I knew preparing for a marathon would be hard work, but I had no idea how absolutely exhausting, time and mind-consuming it would be.
The plan I follow is based on some advice I read online, some advice of friends who ran a marathon, adapted to my own needs and capabilities. I make sure I run a few times per week and once a week– on Sundays– I go for a longer run. Needless to say, I hate Sundays now. And yes, almost every time I am out for my long run, somewhere at kilometer 22 and above, when my knees start aching, when every step takes all the willpower I can muster, I ask myself again and again why I am doing it to myself. And then try to calm me down by saying ”I need to do this just this once, then never again!”
Thinking that way reminds me of all the ridiculous, sometime quite funny things that ran through my head when I was participating in other official running events.
First, there is the “Never again!!” phase. Sometimes it comes up early enough, sometimes rather closer to the end. But just when I am pushing myself above and beyond my limits, I always wonder why I am doing this to myself, promising me I never have to do it again once it is over. Yeah, right.
I am also one of those people who need to listen to music while running. Music can give me quite the kick, or slow me down if not the right type. Unfortunately, when you start associating your favorite songs with the pain and strenous efforts of long-distance running, soon enough you end you hating them. But having the right tune can do a lot to increase my performance. But yeah, I often end up wondering what the hell I liked about a particular song.
One good thing about running events is that you are surrounded by people, high on energy, whose enthusiasm and sometimes –mere speed– can be contagious. Often when someone overtakes me, it pushes me to speed up a little bit. Then what I really really hate is for someone to pass me by and then start running exactly in front of me with a slower pace than me. Seriously, you jerk, if you were so much in a hurry, go right ahead, don’t glue yourself right in front of me, slowing me down and forcing your smell on me. Or being a short person in the land of the tall, I console myself by denigrating and deriding people (I know it is rather mean of me but it takes me from point A to point B fast). For instance, if some 2-meter tall guy just passes me by, I have this conversation with him in my mind, “Oh yeah, great job, for being faster than a small girl, never mind that for every step you take, I need to take at least three!!”
Then, being a woman, I can get distracted by the clothes people around me wear. For instance, I see a lady in nice running shorts or pants and I wonder where I can get the same from. Or because during running events, sometimes people run together with their colleagues and have the logos of their company printed on their t-shirts, I would end up playing the guessing game just to pass the time. “Ok, that is perhaps the 10th [TATA] person I saw, I wonder what kind of company is that and why I have not heard of it if so many people are working there.” What can I say, when you are in pain, every small distraction you can use is rather welcomed.
Then, there are the occasional spots where they give out water. I am not used to drinking water when I am out for a relatively shorter run, and it always amazes me how people can run without losing much pace and drink from a full cup. I can at most take a few sips and half of the content ends up on my shirt.
Also, there are the clothes malfunctions and uncomforts. It sucks to realize by kilometer 15 that this t-shirt is not from a nice, soft material and is actually chafing my arm. ”And did my running shoes feel so weird yesterday? There is some zipper in my pants that is bugging me..” and so on..
I have not run a marathon yet but every time I go for a longer run, somewhere past kilometer 21, my knees start hurting, I wonder why my legs feel so heavy, I wonder what will be the long-term damage to my body if I keep on running so intensively, if any, and how the hell am I going to push the 10 more km tille the end of a marathon distance.
I don’t know if it is my neurotic, easily-annoyed-when-in-pain self that thinks of those things when out running, especially running at oficial sport events. I’ve heard from others that for them, running is very relaxing and enjoyable. Unfortunately, i cannot switch off. I end up thinking about my problems, thinking about my work (or, perhaps I should have done this and that, and I wonder how it would have affected my results if I have done it). The only good thing about it is that after a proper training, I am so exhausted that I cannot think or worry myself unnecessarily anymore. Somehow, it helps me get some distance and see things from a different perspective. You know, for as long as the music was good 🙂