Strava Marathon (Bellingham, MA)
Finish Time: 3:53
Temp: 60 degrees
Run For: Amanda
It’s a new year and for most that means New Year’s resolutions, coming up with goals to accomplish in 2023. For me, the goals remain and my focus is still honed in on running marathons, sharing stories and raising awareness about Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. Nothing changes just because the calendar turns over or the numbers change in the date. New Year – Same Focus.
The first marathon of 2023, number 56 of 26.2 For You was run today for Amanda. As Amanda said in her story, she is the President of the Young Professionals Committee for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. A few years ago, I was honored by this group of amazing people and that is where I met Amanda. One of the first things I noticed about Amanda was her genuine enthusiasm and her outgoing, positive demeanor. Her desire to help others was evident from day one. She was extremely friendly but also deeply passionate towards making positive changes in others’ lives.
The YP group is full of people just like Amanda and I was so happy to learn that she was named President of this group last year. She is a true leader and definitely one who will lead by example and I know the committee is in good hands with her as their President. I couldn’t imagine doing this marathon journey without her playing a major role and being one of the IBD heroes I ran for. As I’ve said before, sharing these stories is important and Amanda’s story is one to share, not just her battle with Crohn’s Disease but how involved she is in the IBD community and the thousands upon thousands of dollars she helps raise. It’s truly remarkable and I’m just one of many that is so thankful and appreciative of all she has done. I know it’s the tip of the iceberg and that she has only just begun.
As most of you know, I’m a coach with Team Challenge and right now we have runners training to run an event in Clearwater, FL as well as a team preparing to run the London Marathon this spring. One of the topics I routinely talk about with them is about the mental aspect of endurance running. Just the other day we had a team call where the conversation was centered around motivation and discipline. We specifically talked about running indoors on the treadmill and how most runners are not the biggest fans of treadmill runs. Admittedly, I was one of these runners for years and I could count on one hand the number of times I would run on the treadmill during the year.
I never felt 100% comfortable and I would dread any and all inside miles. I still prefer running outside but over this past year I’ve made a concerted effort to work on hard stuff. I wanted to get comfortable being uncomfortable, a phrase I’ve used and repeated as a coach many times. It’s only right to practice what I preach isn’t it? The answer is yes, so that means take the opportunity to run on the treadmill and use the right approach.
So that being said, today’s marathon was run entirely on the treadmill and it’s as mentally challenging as it sounds. If you’ve been following along with the marathons and these recaps, you know this isn’t the first time I’ve run 26.2 miles all on the treadmill. However, this is the first one I was able to run about as consistently as any. I thought about breaking this one into two parts, one half inside on the treadmill and the other half outside, however making the entire run inside would be more uncomfortable so in order to get comfortable being uncomfortable, running inside the entire time became the plan.
I felt good physically and mentally for the first ten miles and took a short break to refuel and stretch before getting back on the moving belt. All was going well and the pace was challenging but doable. Around mile 15 I was starting to feel the mental boredom, monotony with the lack of scenery. I decided to take another break at mile 16 knowing I’d have just ten miles to go after getting in some electrolytes and fuel for the final push. 26.2 miles is a long distance, especially when you watch it tick by slowly on the treadmill screen in front of you. I was tired and my legs were feeling the miles at this point which I knew were all triggers that my brain would start to use as it plotted against me trying to convince me to stop. Around mile 19, the mental fight began which I knew was coming and seemingly inevitable.
My mental strategy was to embrace the suck, to welcome in the pain and soreness, bring it on and let’s get to work. This is where I actually struggled to figure out my way through the discomfort, and it was actually a little unsettling. I used several different approaches including, association (focusing in on the task at hand), dissociation (tuning out, letting my thoughts wander) but neither seemed to really work or make things feel easier. After a few miles of what seemed like failed attempts to figure out how to get through the home stretch I made the choice to just let things be what they are. When the pace was starting to hurt and feel uncomfortable, I just accepted that and let it be uncomfortable, but I did not stop or waver. I kept my form and pace as consistent as possible regardless of the discomfort. I didn’t ignore the “pain” I just let it come and go as it pleased, I was going to finish running my way and it can come along for the ride or not. I didn’t let it have a say in the matter, this is how we were going to finish, comfortable or uncomfortable. To my somewhat surprise, the last two miles ended up similar to what the first few miles were, so I’m going to say it worked. Did I become mentally stronger after today’s run? I’m not sure, but I did get to work on embracing the discomfort, to lean into it and I was able to apply some strategies. What I did learn today is that I’m excited to try this all again, to keep learning from this sport and to learn even more about myself.
Fortunately, I will be able to experiment and learn because there will be many more marathons to come with 26.2 For You. This was only number 56 of 100 so we have a long way to go. This 26.2 For You was for Amanda and I was honored to be able to run for her and share her story. Thank you, Amanda, for doing all you continue to do for those battling IBD, including yourself. Cures are coming and it will be because of your efforts that we will get them sooner rather than later.