Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Not A Marathon Runner | Kathy Kliebert

I am NOT a marathon runner. 
To be honest, I thought I might be.  I had never run more than a half-marathon and never ran more than 10 miles in training for those, but since I did seem to get faster the longer miles I ran I just thought that maybe, just maybe, I could be a marathon runner.

I am halfway through my marathon training and can unequivocally state that is not the case. 

Last weekend, I ran 15 miles. That’s the most miles I have ever run at one time. During that run, I decided not only is marathon running not what I was made for, I actually despise it. The frustration grows deeper with every mile. I run on for hours, getting more and more bored with running.

I strongly believe in exercise, but I haven’t figured out any good reason to run more than one hour in a row.  I don’t think I am getting any additional physical or mental benefits from increasing my running regime from one hour to three or more. So, I am finding it incredibly difficult to continue to do something I think is this excruciatingly boring.
I am somewhat attention deficit and when I am running I can’t seem to focus on the run for very long – instead I focus on the weird feeling in one knee, the blister forming on my toe, the tightness in my hip and the weird sounds coming from my stomach.  I am sure at any given moment my knee will give out, my legs will cramp and I will vomit.  Also, I am quite sure that I am doing some massive damage to all parts of my body.  In reality, my body is holding up quite well. Most of my discomfort is very temporary and I never seem to have any physical reason to stop a run and my recovery is not bad.

All the same, I  could spend all day talking myself out of doing a marathon. In an attempt to find some motivation and purpose to what I now believe is a rather tedious activity, I asked other marathon runners their thoughts.  They said they run for the peace and quiet. I can get that in a library. They said they run for the mental fortitude. I can get that doing crossroads or playing words with friends. They said that eventually my legs will get stronger. While some of the after run soreness had diminished, my legs still feel pretty weak during the runs. They said they run for the sense of accomplishment. I can get that from a medal finishing a 5K or 10K or many other activities that don’t involve pain.

So, how do I get through these next two months mentally?  I have thought about this extensively over the last two weeks.  One thing is for sure – I won’t quit because I do want to meet the end goal of completing my first (and probably last) marathon.  Many of us that work in government recognize that sometimes we have to do some things that appear illogical to accomplish the end goal.  So, I will follow my training program as much as possible. I do think it was designed for a younger person so I have added a couple of extra rest days when needed.   I’m now listening to a book on the iPhone and am scheduling some runs in different places to help with the boredom.

Whatever distance you are training for, trust your coach or your training program and don’t give up on that end goal.  Try a new approach if the old one isn’t working – just keep moving toward the finish.   I’ve learned that in the end it will be worth it. You will have figured a little bit more about yourself and what you value in the process.  The journey to the goal is just as important at the end game. Here goes trying to remember that as I go out for my 17 mile run this weekend.

Kathy Kliebert
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary

Kathy is an avid triathlete, taking on the challenge of her first full marathon with the 2015 Louisiana Marathon. When she isn't running a state department or keeping up with her triathlon training, she loves spending time with her grand kids. Follow Kathy on twitter @KathyRunsLaDHH

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