This weekend I did my longest run before the marathon in 3 weeks. 20 freaking miles. I ran around my neighborhood, but I'm pretty sure if I'd been smart I could have run to the ice cream shop and back. Anyway, afterwards I had the energy of a slug so the weekend post never happened. So here's the weekend post with the fitness tip folded in. Like a candy with a gooey center.
I've decided that the biggest run before a marathon is just bad juju. Last year it was just after my longest run that I injured my hamstring, making my first marathon a speed walkathon. Two weeks ago I had a great 19 mile run. I wasn't tired or sore or anything. I could've run the marathon that day for sure. This 20 miles kicked my butt. It wasn't the extra mile that pushed me over, I hit the wall all the way back at mile 5.
It started in the ball of my foot then shot up the shin, through the knee and then up the hamstring finally zapping my lower back. My right leg was stiff and tight and begging to be amputated. So choices. Run through it or go home. I'm too darn stubborn to go home, so I ran through it. Then next 10 miles sucked. Really bad. I wasn't in extreme pain, maybe a 5 on the pain scale. I had to pull through all my bags of tricks to get through it. Music, singing, visualizing the finish line, self talk... everything. I finally went with "This sucks" over and over to the beat of my feet. Then changed it to "Just one more lap until Chrisy comes". Yep, I had reinforcements coming.
The last five miles of my long runs, my friend Chrisy Ross joins me. If I could just make it long enough for her to come, then I knew she'd drag my butt those last five miles. Sure enough, rounding the park I saw my salvation. I nearly started crying. My knee by this point felt completely rusted over. She started running in step with me encouraging me, "You're running strong. Good girl." I stood a little taller, my stride a little more confident.
For the next fifty minutes or so we kept the pace and she kept my mind off how much I wanted to be home, in bed, with the biggest bag of ice I could find. The last five miles ended up just as easy as the first five. My knee still killed me by the end, but I had made it. And I'm not sure I would have without my friend being my cheerleader.
Everybody needs a cheerleader in life. They don't need to have pom poms or wear a short skirt, but they do need to push you back onto the field even when your down by five goals. When you have a workout buddy, you seem to stand a little taller, push a little harder, and stay a little longer. I'm not sure if it's the mechanics of healthy competition, or pride, or the warm fuzzy feeling of encouragement- but I always do better with a friend at my side.
So that's the fitness tip, get a cheerleader. Somebody that holds you accountable for your progress and pushes you to go even though you feel like giving up.