Do not search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing, live your way into the answers ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
One of my biggest fears going into marathon training was running solo. Tackling long double-digit runs on my own intimidated me. I searched for running groups. None seemed to fit. I tried to find a running partner. Again I couldn’t find a match. Even when I’ve found people to run with, my schedule hasn’t allowed me to commit to running a certain time each weekend. So I’ve been running solo. 15 miles last weekend. 16 miles this weekend.
I wondered how I’d do it. How would I keep myself going for hours when things hurt? I thought I’d get lonely. I thought I’d get sick of listening to the thoughts in my head. I thought I’d need motivation from an outside source when miles got tough. There is only one way to find out – run solo. After a lot of scheduling juggling this weekend and my mom coming to my rescue, I was able to find 3 hours of daylight to run on Sunday (Thank you mom. My only other option was running 16 miles in the dark Sunday night). I ran from my parents’ house. The new route was refreshing. I ran from their house, to the oceanfront, and around one of my favorite loops before heading back to their house.
One of my biggest goals this training cycle is to really listen to my body. I don’t want to set out to run at a certain pace. Instead I want to run by feel. Speed Work: Get Uncomfortable. Tempo Runs: Run Fast. Recovery Runs: Feel good. Long Runs: Get comfy. As I ran, my garmin let me know I was running miles in the 9s. On paper this is too fast for my long runs. Instead of slowing down, I listened to my body. It felt very comfortable. At mile 10, my pace creeped back into the 10s. I realized I could unofficially beat my half-marathon PR if I just kept going.
At mile 11, I desperately needed to take off an outer layer of clothes. Another goal (a sub goal of ignoring my garmin) is to quit hitting pause on my watch. Stuck at a red light. Use it to recover. Need to take off a layer of clothes: this could/will happen in a race. There is no pause button on a race clock. I want a real picture of my run with red lights and picture stops included in my time. Mile 11 was an 11 min/mile.
At this point my focus changed. Instead of running 16 miles, I wanted to run a PR half-marathon and then I’d add another 5k to my run. If I PR’d, I’d let myself old man shuffle the last 3 miles if I needed to.
13.1 miles. 2:10:25. 9:57 pace. (including red lights. including a photo stop. including taking off a layer of clothes.) A new PR by 3 minutes 3o seconds, and it was comfortable.
The last 3.1 miles of my run were tough. My hips ached. Although I feared running solo for long runs this time around, I am learning that I really only need myself to keep me going. Not once did walking cross my mind. Red lights drove me nuts because it hurt more to stop than it did to keep going. I know I did my share of shuffling. I tripped on an acorn. Yes. An acorn. But my pace didn’t fall too much (10:11, 10:22, 10:09). Running solo has allowed me to push when I want to push. It’s allowed me to define my own level of comfort (or not so comfortable). Although I really do love have a running companion, sometimes it is important to do it on your own. It’s important to learn to rely on just you.
16.34 miles. 2:44:05. 10:03 pace.
When I hit stop on my watch, tears got stuck in my throat. Tears because I was so happy I was done. Tears because my legs and hips hurt. Tears because I couldn’t believe I just ran that fast. Tears because I’m one week closer to crossing the finish line of my first marathon.
Living the questions now so I can live my way into the answers.
My Training Plan is finally on my blog too. You can read it here.