Muscle Memory

Guys, I don’t know what’s going on these past few days, but I’m just going to come out and say it:

I’m nostalgic about marathon training.

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I honestly don’t know what snapped, but I find myself scrolling through old pictures and videos from those peak NYC Marathon Training training months of September and October of last year from the other side of the finish line, I suddenly feel… nostalgia.

Particularly those late weeknights where I’d run 5, 7, even 10 miles after a full day of work, all by myself, alone in the office gym with no one but me, myself, I, and my cell phone.

It was hard work. It was painful. And I KNOW I was burnt out, especially towards the end – hell, I have videos where I said exactly that to the camera:

I also remember a few nights where the miles wouldn’t come easily. One night I wound up screaming at myself for not being able to run 10 stupid miles when I’d just done 15 the weekend before.

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But there was also a lot of joy in those hours of running. I watched a lot of movies I’d been wanting to watch. I cracked myself up when I realized I’d filmed 3 Insta-Stories in a row about Jeff Goldblum’s Instagram feed and younger-than-me wife.

I had a blast talking to the camera about how I attempted to run the first mile or so on an incline and simulated the race course (with disastrous results).

I was happy knowing my body could do nearly impossible things. I was achieving new goals with every run. I remember driving home after some of those longer mid-week runs at 8:30, even 9PM some nights, singing along to my radio in total joy over what I had accomplished.

Go ahead and say “I told you so”, but… I am profoundly sad that I’m not doing that this year.

Does this mean I’m going to sign up for another marathon tomorrow? No. Not by a long shot. But it’s helped me learn that a lot of my marathon anxiety – and the general bad taste about running that was left in my mouth after the race – stemmed from the fact that it was my first time doing this big, huge, impossible thing.

With a little perspective, I realize now that the first time I attempted any distance, from 5K to half marathon, was rough. But with each race and each training cycle I kept at it, got stronger, learned new skills to cope with the dark times and better anticipated what to expect. Why would the marathon be any different?

In my nostalgia, I went back and re-read one of my final training posts from last year, when my sweet friend Liz gave me this gift when I was at the absolute lowest point of training:

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I thought “one day” meant Race Day.

I was wrong.

It’s taken me nearly a year, but all the physical and mental pain I went through to get to the end of 26.2 is finally starting to make sense.

And that’s pretty cool.

6 thoughts on “Muscle Memory

    • THIS! 100%. And in marathon training, it happened nearly every other week. But the more I went through it the more I realized it was normal and part of the process. It still stinks though!

  1. I look back on completing my first marathon – Corning Wineglass 2012 – as a significant milestone, and once wrote a blog post about how it helped me ‘vanquish childhood demons’ … yes, at 46, with 23 years of running behind me already, I was still dealing with issues around childhood and fitness and body image.

    The interesting thing? I had already run >28 miles three weeks before the marathon – because I needed to assure myself I could do 26.2 … similar to running 15 miles before my first half-marathon (then my longest ever run!)

    So I totally get what you’re saying – it hits you when it hits you. You had a bunch of other stuff to sort out as well.

    And once you get past it …you get to decide what is next. Race all the time? Go the ‘Marathon Maniac’ route? Whatever works for you. For me … I have run a few more marathons, a bunch of half marathons and a couple of charity 5ks … but honestly – I don’t care. I get up 5-6 days per week, run ~75-100 miles a week, because I love running, love the way my body looks and feels, love that isolation and quiet solitude to think and plan and reflect and meditate and curse out the crappy drivers (ok, not so much that one).

    Running, for me, gives back everything I put into it and more.

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