I have wanted my goal races to feel easy so many times. I’ve toed the line wishing fiercely for a day that felt effortless. (That never happens.) The first time I ran a Boston Qualifier (Marine Corps Marathon, 2012), the miles ticked by quickly, and largely without issue, until about mile twenty-two; then the pain set in and suddenly it definitely was not easy. This was one year after I ran a very painful 3:37, because I spent a good part of the first half going too fast, and thinking “Wow! This feels great!” Until it didn’t. I crashed hard.
The second time I ran a BQ (Eugene, 2015) was tough from mile fifteen on. I thought my quads may literally explode right off my femur. I convinced myself that was a thing that could definitely happen, and probably would happen, as soon as I finished. I couldn’t even fathom a walking break, because my legs might not start again if I stopped. It was not easy.
I’ve spent many cycles thinking that only the training would be hard, but the (goal) race would be a breeze. But, isn’t that kind of the opposite of why we race and train hard?
Most of our clients, myself included, race because it’s an opportunity to push personal limits, challenge what we’ve done before and what we could maybe do on this day, and then see what happens! It doesn’t always turn out well. But there is solace in knowing that at least we tried.
If you train well, trust that you are ready for it to be hard.
Training isn’t easy! It takes months of being dedicated to something, many moments of convincing yourself to do a hard workout by choice, and then getting through those workouts. Our brain is used to the “hard” moments, even though we so want to avoid it.
So, come race day, guess what your brain is ready to do? Push through the hard stuff. You just can’t doubt that that’s true.
A lot of us are bracing ourselves for the fall marathons (or half-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks) that are finally here, after months of training. As the taper comes on, so do the nerves. We start to remember, yes, it’s going to be hard in some way or another! That’s the only thing we know for sure, which can be a little daunting.
If you are going for a goal, it’s not going to be easy. Even if that goal is a marathon/race that feels “easy!” Because then you still have to stay in your head all day, before and during the race, convincing yourself that you’re trained to do this and you will be OK. That’s still a fight. It takes consistent effort to stay in that good place.
Always trust these two things: your training, and your self.
Your training probably wasn’t perfect. No one’s ever is. Your self—body, mind, ego, etc—will communicate, you just have to listen up. You’ve done hard work to get yourself to this starting line, trust that you’re ready for hard work on race day, too!