I'm on track this week for my 3rd 40+ mile week in a row. Know when the last time I ran 3 40+ mile weeks back to back was? February. As in 9 months ago February. Wow. The fact that I finally seem to be headed back in the right direction has gotten me thinking about what's transpired over the past year and what it's going to take to get past it.
I realized that this is truly the first time in my entire running career that I've ever encountered a serious roadblock to improving my fitness and being successful. Ever since I started running, from high school track and onwards, it's been a constant stream of harder workouts, longer runs, longer races, constant improvement, constant PRs, constant upward motion. There's never been a point in time where I've felt like I went backwards. Until now. And it happened so subtly, without my ever realizing it until months into the process. I had deluded myself into thinking all summer that the 30-odd miles I was doing every week were adequate, that it didn't really matter anyway how many days off I took, and without races to give me feedback of what I had actually lost, I slipped. Not without reason, clearly - a hip injury, ankle sprain, hypothyroidism, and major surgery over the course of 6 months will throw anyone's plans off track. But there was more I could have done in between these setbacks had I taken the long view and realized "damn, this is going to really suck when I actually want to be a competitive runner again".
And now here I am, back standing on the brink of trying to make a comeback, to once again be striving for upward motion. I have no delusions that the path is going to be easy. There are days, lately, when I'll be out running 7 or 8 miles at what (in theory) I want to become my marathon pace, or even something slower, and I think to myself "how in the hell will I ever run a marathon this fast again? How DID I ever run a marathon this fast, for that matter? And what the heck happened to the me that did?" It's a challenge to see my friends on DailyMile and teammates from home out there running PRs, killing it in races - I am of course thrilled for them, but I can't deny being a little jealous, and beat up on myself as a result. I can never completely silence the doubt in my mind. But I also know that the only way that I'm going to make it back is to find a way to put those doubts aside and believe.
Belief. It's been such an overarching theme in my running life, from the charm tied into my XC spikes to the words sharpied on my hand during every marathon. It's not that believing will make something happen, but if you don't believe, it never will. Belief in your legs, your training, your mind, and your heart. Belief that conquers doubt and fear. It's going to take a LOT of work for me to get back into PR shape for Boston, but if I don't believe that that's even a possibility? Well then really, what's the point. So I try to silence the doubt and find a way to believe, and I get out there and see myself improve day by day, mile by mile.
And now, since I see that it's raining, I think I'll go get my run in :)