Monday, 28 January 2013

More Marathon Mania

Short distances races can be run impatiently, like someone set fire to your ass. But for marathons - this middle aged mommy has to dig deep from her store of patience. At least that is definitely a lesson I learnt in the recent past.

I know patience hardly sounds like a virtue in a race. It is a race, for heaven's sake. Not to be confused with a 'run' - which is what you do when you train for a race. And that infamous article (or set of articles) that said that all the 'slow' runners in the marathon races were fucking it up for the others? Well, there is that.

My mental transition over my years of running has been fun to watch. I know, for you it probably is akin to watching paint dry, but I have enjoyed it. I like this sort of stuff. I like to write about it too so that ten years out I can come back and laugh at myself. Which is another quality that one should hold on dearly to, in addition to patience, if you ask me - the ability to laugh at oneself.

Yes, I started out with that typical attitude. Having tasted the 'tape' - so to say - in my youth - with the head dip at the end of the 100 or 200m distances, I started off being very enamored still with speed. My occasional-coach used to say, "Run the 100m with everything you got. If I so much as poke you at the end, you must fall down."

Well, I don't think I figure out what THAT means till I started running long distance. But still, I ran strong, and hard, and with determination, even if my training was haphazard and looked at only indulgently by my ever-busy parents. I did passably well, and more than anything, really enjoyed running. Even the time I ran barefoot on synthetic track and it tore away my sole.

Over my years of moving up the evolution chain to a long distance runner, and who knows, an endurance athlete perhaps in the future, I have had to pretty much re-learn running. Stand it completely on its head, so to speak. Replace my long strides with shuffling ones, among other things.

In my youth, I relied on my natural speed, big calves, low body weight, and a strong mind to achieve a little success. I used the same to advantage in Basketball, surprising bigger players into committing costly mistakes within range of my ball-pilfering arms; then sprinting away on a fast break. This is not enough for long distance races. And doesn't work for my life right now.

I don't like to fall down. I like to keep on walking. I like to go to work on Monday mornings after a Sunday race. I like to feel some pain in my legs when I stand up, and perhaps a moment or two of tiredness of an afternoon, but I want to be out there, teaching, preaching, reading, meeting on Mondays, after a marathon.

So I have learnt, that one has to be patient. In the first half of the race, my entire struggle is to keep it slow, calm, easy. Nothing insane. The second half of the race is really the challenge. When hidden reserves of strength, sense of humour, discipline, mental fortitude, come into play. In fact, that is the only thing to train for.

The beauty is, three marathons in, all I want to do is run more of them. Not immediately, because I want to give my body the benefit of recovery, and more training. But once that is done, I want to be get back at the start line. In the meanwhile, I will patiently work on the kinks! Till then...

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