Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Week 2 of 18 begins

Marathon training is now well under way. I've officially started week 2 of my 18-week plan as of this past Sunday. So far so good. I've no doubt that I'll be able to train myself to run the big distance. In fact, on every long run I do, it gets easier and easier to do and easier and easier to imagine going the extra distance. And every time, it gives me the gentle reminder of how far I've come. Every day I get a glimpse of what my potential is. Every step of my training, I get to test my potential and push myself to do something greater. I love it! It makes me feel strong and capable of anything.

In the summer of 2010, just 1.5 years ago, I ran my first 5km race since renewing my passion for running. It took me 35 minutes to complete the race, was a real challenge, and gave me a huge feeling of achievement. I did it!

I realized then that I had the potential to reach goals I couldn't reach before. I knew that in no time at all, I could indeed build up to a half marathon. I had the confidence of knowing that I'd done that distance twice before in my "former life", so I could do it again in 2011 if I trained for it. Getting there would be a familiar place I'd been to 6 years previously. I could test my potential and see if I was able to be in this familiar place again and be just as fit as I was back then. 4 months after this 5km race, while I was healing from surgery I had on both of my legs, I took the leap and registered for a half marathon in 2011. It was a big leap considering how the surgery slowed me down. I had to start from 0km all over again. But I knew that I could bounce back and train hard. Going from 0km to 5km worked, so starting at 0km and moving up to 21.1km was certainly possible. It would just take work. A lot of work, but I was up for the challenge.

Knowing it would take work empowered me to consult resources outside of myself and properly train for this half marathon. And most importantly, I did the race with a good friend of mine, and this helped me tremendously - having someone to talk to, to get advice from, compare training notes with, and cross the finish line with was priceless. For that I'm truly grateful. Here I got to test my potential as when I signed up for the half marathon, I expected that I'd finish slowly like I had 6 years beforehand. But when I started my training, I knew I could push my potential even further. I bettered my finish time in my October 2011 half marathon by almost half an hour. I didn't just reach the place I was before: I surpassed it with flying colours. Clearly my potential was to reach something greater. And I'm capable of something greater still.

So now I've started my training for my marathon. I'm being conservative with my goals for my finish time, but who knows, I might wow myself again on race day. I don't know what my potential is, so I'm setting a goal based on what I believe is a smart goal (i.e. which would also be a S.M.A.R.T goal). But maybe I'm capable of so much more. I'm willing to believe I may be. Either way I cross the finish, I will be happy with the result. I will at that point be able to say it, that I am a marathoner.

What I do know is how training is going so far. So far, so good. I spent November and December just running for fun, but consistently running distances of 10km and 12km even though I didn't need to.  This included an impromptu registration for a 10km race, which coincidentally was the fastest 10km I'd ever run in my life! I had no training goals in mind for these two months except to enjoy my runs, and to get comfortable running double digit distances regularly so there's minimal recovery time from them. I wanted my body to be primed and ready for training that started on January 1st. I wanted my 5 days a week of running to not be a shock to my system and something that can easily be fit into a busy schedule of working full-time, having a social life, and being involved in my community. So far so good. Body is not overwhelmed. In fact, it's overjoyed.

I did a really fun run this past Sunday, tried out a brand new route. It was a destination run, which is super fun because it's something I don't get to do often (ie., not a loop starting and finishing at the same place, but rather running from one place to another). It worked out to be 11km and at the end of it, I had energy to spare to still play soccer that night and run hard at the game. It's nice to realize how my abilities are ever increasing. I'm every day testing my limits and pushing them further. 

If I were to look back to this time in 2011, I was working up to 5km all over again. The bandages from my surgery were officially gone and I was free to run as much as I wanted. It was the beginning of my life as a runner again. Starting slow. Starting short. Now I run nothing shorter than 6km on an everyday run. 

Yes 32km does feel a bit daunting. And of course, the full 42.2km race does too. But I know that when I've pushed my potential before, it worked. And I know I'm still capable of so much more. I will do it. I will get there. I'm approaching it smart by testing myself a little at a time, and adapting my body and mind to believe in its own ability.

Whether it be physically, intellectually, socially, and so on, we should strive to try bigger and greater things. As human beings, we are capable of so much.. It's fun to discover what we're capable of, and dream what could be. It's even better to learn to and adapt to being capable of something we previously weren't. How will we ever know what our potential is if we're afraid to test it out? And testing myself doesn't end with my running. Along with my marathon training, I am testing my potential through my career exploration and through my artistic endeavours. I want to learn to do new things, meet new people, and give back to the community in new ways. But perhaps this marathon is the most exciting test. It's so much more tangible and dreamlike. There's a finish line to cross and a medal to receive. I can't wait to get there. And I will get there.

How about you? What are you doing to test your own potential?


  1. I remember when I first ran 21km as training for the full. I had never ran that far before and it was a really hot summer day. I had to walk the last 2 kilometers because I just felt so tired and sore. After that I started to doubt that I could do the full but my running mentor kept me going and encouraged me to keep training for the full. When the time came to do the 30+km runs, they were actually really enjoyable! I feel as though once you hit the mental barrier in training and overcome it, you can remind yourself that things were difficult before but you still managed to achieve what you wanted to, and so there's no reason why anything else should stop you.

    1. I love this, Kiran. I worry about my first training run that'll be higher than 21.1km. I've never ran more than a half marathon. But I love this perspective and will have to keep it mind as I venture to the higher distances. It is so much more mind over matter in this case. Thank you for the reminder!