runners are my soul mates.

This morning’s commute to work was dedicated to cringing at the memory of my 11-mile run Saturday, my last long run before my half-marathon in two weeks (this Saturday calls for six – I’m in taper mode leading up to the race.).

In a word, it was horrible. In two words, it was horribly painful. After about six miles, my knees (or, I just learned, my IT bands) were killing me, which quickly led to my shins, then my ankles and then my feet. Not to mention the groin injury I’ve been suffering lately, which I’ve heard will only really clear up when I have time to, you know, rest. (As in, not train for a half-marathon.)

It was also a lesson in mind games. Running is such a mental game. Once the pain kicked in, all I could focus on was the pain, the pain, the pain – not the road or my form or how proud I was should have been of myself for even getting this far. And once my focus was on the pain, it was way too easy to let my doubts creep in.

What if I’m trying to do this too quickly? What if I haven’t given myself enough time to build up to 13.1 miles? What if I’m not ready? Will I get injured? Will I be able to run through the pain? Will I even make it 13.1 miles? If I could barely make it 11, there’s no way I’ll make it 13.1, right?

And those doubts, the assholes they are, don’t just go away once you’re off the road. They followed me through drinks with friends Saturday night, through breakfast and laundry and blogging on Sunday, through my morning commute Monday morning. And I was just getting ready to do some last-minute freak-out Googling (“horrible last long run before half-marathon,” “how to know if I didn’t train enough for my first half-marathon,” etc.) to convince myself I should pull out of my race when I got an email.

From the lovely Mrs. Packard, my blogging and running idol, saying:

So, how did your long run go this weekend? I saw you posted on FB that you ran a little over 11 miles. How was it? I was scheduled to run 11 this weekend too, and it was TERRIBLE.

She then confessed how her run was so bad she had to stop and cry twice, which prompted me to tell her how I’d ended up a mile and a half from my starting point (miscalculated my route – damn you, math) and had to call Boyfriend because I literally couldn’t walk back home. And then she wrote this blog post about just how horrible her run was.

I swear, it was fate.

As you (probably) know, this is my first half-marathon. As you (probably) also know, I just started running a few months ago. I’ve read about but am just starting to experience things like runner’s knees and bruised, ugly toenails and hitting a wall and how to deal with awful runs.

So I just needed to know my doubts were normal. That just because I was doubting myself didn’t make me any less of a runner than anyone else.

I needed that reassurance that even the most seasoned runners have bad days, sometimes coincidentally the same days as you. And that you need the running community to give you that reassurance and positivity and encouragement to put those bad runs behind you and learn from them to keep going.

Lovely Mrs. P., I’m so sorry you had a bad run this week – but your 12-miler this Saturday will be killer. And I can’t thank you enough for emailing me at the most perfect moment possible today, reminding me to just keep going. And although in two weeks you’ll be at the finish line about an hour before me, I’ll see you in the recovery area. So save me a banana.

Runners, you lovely runners. I’m so happy I finally found you.

4 Comments

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  1. Self doubt manages to creep in during so many important moments in our lives…especially when we have set high goals or want to accomplish something big. It happens to the best of us. Lucky for you …you found words of wisdom just when you needed that extra boost!

  2. Aw, Hannah! I’m so glad that my horrible running experience could somehow be encouragement for you (which means my run wasn’t a complete failure if it helped someone else). I burst out loud reading this post because I swear on everything sacred and holy that I TOTALLY googled ““horrible long run before half-marathon” word for word yesterday at work! HA!

    Running is a very mental sport and that won’t change whether you’ve been running for a few months or for decades. That’s why I think runners are so tough–we have so much more to overcome than just physical obstacles. The biggest thing I need to work on is not letting a bad run get me down for too long. They happen. The trick is not letting them ruin your spirit or your motivation or your drive to do better next time. Take all failures as learning opportunities.

    And can we even really call running 11 miles failures? I don’t care how slow we run or how many times we stop to cry, we’re running 11 miles and not many people can say that! Be proud NO MATTER WHAT!

    And though we’re worrying and panicking far too much, it just goes to show our dedication to our craft. We’re determined, motivated, kick-a$$ girls and we’re both going to rock this thing.

    • Ah, you’re so, so right. Such wisdom! I was actually on the phone w/my mom last night telling her how I “only” ran four miles yesterday…and then thought…um. That’s 3.5 more miles than I ever could have accomplished three months ago! So you’re right. Wallowing stops NOW.

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