For the last few weeks I’ve been doing a little personal experiment. As I’ve talked about before, this marathon I’ve decided to run/walk instead of just walking. I’ve been using a plan specifically for run/walking the marathon and I had been following that plan exactly. I’d made some gains in speed but not what I was hoping for and my long runs were really not that fun,dictated as they were by beeps from my watch alarm.
It hit me during one of the shorter runs that I sometimes felt like I could keep running when the “walk” alarm went off, and sometimes it felt like a tremendous struggle but I kept running, all based on the prescribed intervals of running and walking.
It hit me that I was buying into a concept that I hate – the idea that our bodies are just limitations to overcome, just meat sacks with no useful information or feedback for us, that they can’t be trusted and and that athletic achievement means at best ignoring and more likely overcoming our bodies by forcing them to do things that they don’t want to do.
Except, since I left diet culture, that hasn’t been my experience of my body. So I thought what if I did my marathon training like I live the rest of my life – in partnership with my body. So I decided a couple weeks ago that I would do my long run working with my body – no watch beeps, no prescribed plan. Run when it feels right, walk when it feels right. I was nervous because, as I talked about before, I see training as insurance and I didn’t want to waste a training session, but I reminded myself that if it didn’t work I could always go back and it was just one run/walk.
So I set off on my long run/walk. I won’t say it was fun, but I will say that it was the least sucky run I’ve ever done. I didn’t trust my math as I looked at my times but sure enough when I got home and entered it into my spreadsheet I had dropped my time by 2 minutes per mile. I thought that it might be a fluke. The next week I completed my interval training run/walk and my hill run/walk as usual, and was off on my long run. My pacing was even faster than the long run the week before.
I could kick myself for falling into the old trope of body as limitation/enemy, but it also speaks to one of the main reasons I did this marathon in the first place. I wanted to do more things to push out of my comfort zone so that I could learn things about myself, and so that I could apply old lessons in new environments like, oh I don’t know, TRUST YOUR BODY AND LISTEN TO IT! Of course there are still miles and miles (and miles and miles) and did I mention miles, to go before the marathon, but I think those miles will be better if I remember that it’s me and my body against the miles and that my body has some really helpful things to say if I’ll just listen.
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