I hated running.
Ten years ago, I trained for and ran the San Francisco half-marathon. I was 30 and realized I had never really dedicated myself to something I hated, but resolved to do despite my hatred of it.
It seems like most people accept that they have to do things they hate as a part of life, but I never accepted it. I didn’t do math homework in school unless I liked the teacher, I didn’t file taxes, and I didn’t stay in jobs I didn’t like. From the time I was an infant, if I didn’t want to do something, I’d absolutely refuse to do it.
This is not a very productive or healthy trait in adults, so I decided that I would spend six months training for a half marathon. I would have to do something I hated many times over for basically no reward, other than having done it.
I did it. I trained for the half-marathon even after I moved away from my formal training program. And then I ran the half-marathon almost effortlessly in June of 2005.
After that experience, I knew I could stick with anything. I was able to hold very rewarding jobs for years, even through rough or uncomfortable patches.
Still, I never felt the need to run again.
I don’t remember much about the training, except that I knew I had to do it. Even if I didn’t want to run on any given training day, I knew if I didn’t pull on my running clothes and get out there, I wouldn’t be able to do the next big Saturday run… and if I didn’t do the big Saturday run, I wouldn’t be able to get to the next stage… and if I didn’t get to the next stage, I’d never get to 13.1 miles. Missing two training days in a single week could ruin my chance of running the half-marathon.
A few weeks ago, I read a colleague’s blog entry about discipline. I remembered the incredible discipline it took to train for the half-marathon before, and I decided at 40, I should be able to run another half-marathon.
Training started last week, and even though I was in Kansas City at the Central Soaper’s Workshop, I decided to start training. I ran even though I was getting sick, I ran (inside) even though it was raining outside, and I ran even when I was hung over.
And you know what? I LIKE running!
I really do! I like feeling my legs power me forward, I like listening to music, I like covering ground, I like breathing too hard and sweating and wondering how much longer it’s going to be before I can stop again.
My mom is visiting this week, and I’ve been getting up early and going running on my training days even though I’d rather hang around and have bacon and eggs. I cook some food and then put on my clothes and do my training runs. Saturday, I ran five miles (oops… I should have only run four). Sunday, I ran two! It was fun! And my legs are even holding up ok, despite being 30 lbs heavier and 10 years older and having gone through some pretty painful knee issues.
Tomorrow, I’ll run three miles. But today, I have to sit down as much as possible. My legs have to recover. I’m 40 and training to run 13.1 miles, so I need to be gentle with myself, and that means rest.
Rest is as important as the training runs. If I miss a day of rest, I can’t run a training run, and if I can’t run a training run, I can’t make my longer distance runs, and… you get the idea.
Maybe I could just run and run and run when I was young and hated running, but here I am at Diablo State Park, and I can’t hike. I have to sit here and let my legs catch up with me.
The lesson I learned ten years ago was about perseverence and discipline. The lesson I learn this time is about having the discipline to rest, even when I don’t want to.
What could a long distance run teach you?