Perception vs Reality

I’m training for Marathon 2.0 and everything is different this time around. I have a new running group, I’m beginning with a smaller weekly mileage base, and there’s the little matter of the C-section scar where my muscles are still a bit weak.

But I’m having a blast. For the most part. Houston summers suck, and getting up at 5 to beat the heat is awful no matter how you slice it. In general, however, I’m optimistic and enthusiastic to be training for a long race again.

That said, my pace hasn’t been that great and it’s starting to bum me out. I can remember what it feels like to run for an hour without having to walk, and I’m not there yet. I had a particularly bad run yesterday. I’m trying to be better about incorporating hills and speed work into my weekly miles, so I chose a route that is about as hilly as I can get near the Gulf Coast.

I was relaxed and had plenty of water. The hills stretched my quads and calves but they weren’t painful. I didn’t walk too much and felt like I kept a reasonably steady pace on the inclines.

When I got home, my watch told a different story. I don’t use RunKeeper because I hate having a voice chirp at me every 5 minutes telling me how I’m doing, so I judge my progress based on my knowledge of my most frequently traveled paths and departure/arrival time. I estimated I had gone on a 4.5 mile jog, but it had taken me much, much longer than I had budgeted.

It was discouraging, to say the least.

After I dried off and took a shower, I hung out with my family until nap time, then relaxed. I took out my phone and decided to map my run. To my surprise, I actually ran 6 miles.

My relief was as potent as the endorphins released during the run itself. Suddenly my time wasn’t so shabby after all! I’m not winning any races, but I’m also not dragging the pack. I’m right where I need to be.

I’m sharing this story because I do this all the time. I constantly belittle myself, thinking I’ve done less than I actually have. I know it, but I still do it, mostly because the measurements I’m using aren’t really quantifiable, unlike mileage. I’ve done a bunch of things in the last 5 years, but I’m not giving myself the credit I’ve earned.

So if you’re struggling in the trenches, writing like there’s no tomorrow, Don’t Be Me. Take time to acknowledge your awesomeness. Enjoy your accomplishments. We’ve earned it.