Thursday, October 11, 2012

Marathon Training Cut Into Steps

Picture of the cousins left over from the weekend.  Our family is certainly not lacking in boys.

In the heat of the summer, my friend Jessica called.  She gushed over the phone lines about her marathon preparations.  As a fellow runner, I adored hearing all the details about her training and experiences.  By the time I hung up the phone, the wheels in my head were spinning. I had this crazy idea fly through my head: perhaps I should run a marathon too.

I ran a marathon once at the tender age of 25.  Even though I had youth and time (as I was single and childless) on my side, I remember the process to be quite a challenge.  I vividly recall crossing the finish line and swearing to never/ever/don't even think about it run a marathon again.  I mentally checked the box and certainly didn't expect to revisit that agony in my lifetime.

Funny how time tends to lessen one's memory of pain.

Over a decade plus later, I wanted to do it again.  How did that happen?

I quickly roped in a few other friends (victims) to join me in the training.  We rummaged through the internet searching for the perfect training plan, finally landed on a particularly challenging 16-week Runner's World plan.

The first several weeks were easy.  We smugly raced through the workout without breaking much of a sweat.  But I knew things would get more difficult as the weeks progressed.  After studying the plan, I began to fear week 13.  That was the week when the mileage shot up to a level I hadn't reached in years.

This week is week 13.  The Runner's World plan suggests we run two 10 mile workouts (one with interval training), two low mileage runs, and one 22 mile long run.  In total, the week's mileage is 52 miles.  5-2.  Just looking at that number makes my knees shake.  52 miles is the distance between Indianapolis and Bloomington, Indiana.  I began to fret (to put it mildly).

I quickly realized 52 miles is not run in a day.  52 miles is divided over the course of several runs.  Then, those runs are cut into individual miles, strides, and steps.  When the mileage is chunked up, the running seems less daunting and more manageable.  Marathon training is successfully accomplished by a series of steps forward.  When I focus more on the individual forward steps and don't worry so much about the big picture, 52 miles seems feasible.

Running has taught me this philosophy and I've carried it over to many other aspects of my life.  I've thought about this a lot with my Aspie son.  The last few weeks have been a challenge.  My husband and I fret endlessly about his future and wonder how his life will play out.  But I've quickly realized, this sort of anxiety gets me nowhere.  It's better to think of his life as a series of steps. I just need to focus on continually moving him forward, day by day, step by step.  

And so we've set out, moving forward one step at a time.    

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