Hey y'all. This is part 3 of a series about how running is a beautiful metaphor for life (and anyone who's had half a conversation with me knows how much I love a good metaphor...)
Running gets better with age.
Say what??? You thought running got harder? That your aging body wouldn't withstand the pounding impact on your joints? That your pace would slowly slip into oblivion? That the increasing responsibilities of life would take away all of your training time?
Well, those things are possible. And in some cases, inevitable. Truthfully, the impact is harder on older joints. But not impossible. Your pace will definitely slow. But at a reasonable rate. And life will absolutely get in your way sometimes. Three kids, Jessi, Amen?
But a lot of running gets much easier and better as you get older.
First, the guilt about training. The first major race I trained for, I hated missing a single training run. My Catholic upbringing did not help me out here. I felt so much guilt about missing a run, for any reason at all, that I risked my health. One hot Saturday in July, I set my alarm for 6 so I could put in 10 miles before it got too hot. At 6, I woke up, realized I had eaten something that did not want to be eaten, and puked. I slept for 2 more hours, woke up, and felt terrible still. But I needed to run 10 miles! So I did. I would run 2, walk half a mile, then try to run 2 more. I puked. Twice. I stopped on the sidewalk and contemplated waking up my roommate to bring my my T pass so I could take the subway home. After that, I couldn't run for a week. If I had just rested for the day, I would certainly have been back on my feet by Tuesday at the latest. But I lost a whole week because I couldn't see the forest for all the trees.
Then, there's the lack of preparation. Maybe it's just me, but in my adolescent (and early 20's) days, I thought I was the queen of wingin' it. I mean, who says you can't just pick up and run 10 miles any time you like? Who says you have to drink plenty of water and consume extra calories for harder, longer runs? And what is this "dress for the weather" you speak of? When I trained for my second half-marathon, I increased my mileage way too fast. I mean, come one, that recommendation of no more than 10% weekly increase seems conservative, right? Ask my shin splints about conservative. I once tried to do an 8 mile run on about 4 hours of sleep, half a turkey sandwich, half a pack of caffeinated Gu and 8 ounces of water. Sure, I almost passed out in the middle of Beacon St., but at least I didn't get hit by a train while I was down there. And please ask my friend, Barrett, about that 5K we ran on a cool May day a few years ago. That sweatshirt I insisted on wearing? It had a little something to do with my 33-minute finish.
All of these stories are lessons learned for me. They may have been painful at the time, but now the only pain I feel is that cramp in my side from laughing at myself. Time has given me, and my running, the greatest gift: humility. As in life, I've learned over time to laugh, but also to learn. I'm now pretty good at listening to my body. I won't sacrifice a long-term goal in order to tackle one right now. Patience is certainly not my strongest quality, but I've learned the hard way to be patient with my body. Building mileage takes time, and that's okay. And great day in the morning, you will never see this girl hittin' the pavement without my trusty hand-held water bottle, plenty of carbs, and weather appropriate clothing! (I'm a bargain hunter, y'all, if you need help building your running wardrobe, holla at your girl.)
The most important thing I've learned, though? That I will always make mistakes. It's a good thing I like those things, huh?
Your turn. What lessons has time taught you about running?