Embracing the Pain With Dr. Bob
In the past 72 hours, I went from crossing the finish line of the Philly Half and hoping that I never have to run again to deciding that I didn't want to qualify for the Boston Marathon during the Chicago Marathon, to feeling panicked, to feeling proud, to feeling terrified, and back to feeling excited about toeing the starting line of Chicago again. Yup, it's been a whirlwind 72 hours.
I had an "aha" moment while I was talking through what when down during Philly with Dr. Bob. I realized that I've been holding myself back from really pushing my limits during my tempo and track workouts. In order to run faster, you don't just have to run faster, you have to get used to pushing the limits of your pain threshold. I don't really like doing that. Pain is scary. Pain and discomfort aren't fun because I've never had to push through them to fight to see how far I can go before. Whenever it happened, I'd grab my camera and use it as an excuse to get comfortable again.
When I hit my threshold during a workout, I take a tiny step back and stand just behind it. It's the reason the Philly Half left me so freaked out. I found myself at my limit almost at the beginning of the race and I had no clue how I was going to hold on. It was the first time I had to stay uncomfortable in order to hit my goal and it wasn't easy.
I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that embracing pain doesn't have to be something I suffer through. Dr. Bob touches on this in our talk but by reminding me to stay present, grateful, and focused on my form, he has helped me find ways to get comfortable in the pain. But it's hard to trust your effort when you feel like you're going to gas out! I struggle because I don't trust myself to keep fighting. During Rock n Roll Philly, I was convinced I was going to pull back. But somehow, I didn't.
It really reminds me of the willpower I experienced when I was first getting started as a runner. Running 30 seconds was almost impossible. I'd finished completely out of breath and my legs felt like they were going to fall off. But over time, the discomfort felt less and less intimidating and running five, ten, and then thirty minutes non-stop became my new normal. Establishing normal and pushing your threshold takes time. It's not ideal that I figured this out five days before my taper begins but at this point, I just have to trust my training.
This is why I'm really, really grateful that I had my coach Josh Maio. It's thanks to Josh's coaching and his weekly plans that I know that I'm ready. And looking back at what went down in Philly, I now sort of trust that when push comes to shove, I can hang on when the effort level creeps into uncharted territories.
The secret to running faster isn't running faster, it's running smarter because your physical strength isn't going to get you to the finish line. Your mental resilience will. We don't know what we're truly capable of until we find a way to get our brains to say yes.
Easier said than done!
17 days to go. There's no holding back now. I've come too far too shy away from that threshold.