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My Marathon Running Journey: Lessons Learned from 2020 and Running Updates

Dec 28, 2020

Have you ever made a goal, but then didn’t reach it? How did you feel? Disappointed? Upset at yourself? Like a failure?

You are not alone. When we don’t make goals SMART or don’t have accountability and a well thought out plan to get there then we are not setting ourselves up for success. We think we lack willpower, but in reality it’s not that. We are lacking the right mindset, plan, and accountability from someone else to get us where we want to be.

I want to share my experience and lessons I've learned along my journey of racing marathons that may help you.

In 2015, I just finished grad school. I probably didn't train properly and had no idea how to run a marathon, but I wanted to do it. This marathon will always be special to me not because it was my first and crossing that finish line was the most memorable experience of my life so far. I had tears of joy and pain and still remember that feeling of my legs feeling dead. I thought I was going to collapse after finishing, but also because my Mom ran this same marathon years ago when I was only a young teen. I watched on the sidelines and thought to myself that one day, I would run it too. I was proud to just finish and complete it under 5 hours (Mom had ran it in 5 hours). But I know now with proper training, it could have went a lot better and didn't have to feel so dead after.

In 2017, I was living in Erie, PA working as a dietitian. I volunteered for the marathon in 2016 and after handing out the medals to everyone that crossed that finish line, I decided I would run it next year. Boston had been on my mind and realized if I wanted to run in Boston then I had to run a marathon again. I also thought I would love to get in Boston before I turn 30 years old. Again, I trained all on my own and still had no idea what I was doing. I followed a Hal Higdon beginner marathon plan and followed it as much as I could. I also was vegan during this training cycle. I didn't feel as physically exhausted as my first marathon, but I was a bit disappointed. I knew this was a fast course and had been training on the same course (around Presque Isle all summer) and thought I would get under 4 hours. I still wasn't doing something right. Or I thought maybe marathons were not for me. But I didn't give up.

In 2018, I moved back home and decided to try again. Again I trained all on my own even though I was thinking about getting a running coach, but didn't. I think I still wanted to really put in all the effort I had and didn't think I could afford one either. To me, a coach was a luxury and was still in debt from school. My goal this time was to get under 4 hours and not feel dead. I brought my gels and electrolyte drink. I just remember overheating and wishing I wore shorts. I just kept going even though most people only ran the half, so the last half was pretty lonely. And I actually did it!!!

Then in 2019, living in a new city and working a new dietitian job, I decided that I wanted to run Boston. But the only problem was I still was not fast enough. So I asked my former supervisor and friend, Dave Ames to coach me. My running improved so much and I was so excited! I was supposed to run the Wineglass Marathon in October, but had to defer due to a foot injury (possible tendonitis) then in 2020, the race was canceled due to COVID.

The year 2020 has been a challenging year for all runners across the world. The major marathons including Boston went virtual. Some people stopped running or couldn’t run due to lockdown (in the UK). And others have kept running. For me, this was a year that I learned a lot about myself and what running really means to me.

First of all, I love races. The excitement, the energy, the challenge and competition, the people cheering you on during the race, talking to other runners, the post race food and party…everything! But since working with my coach I learned to race less to run smart. And through COVID I was forced not to race. But I still ran. In earlier years, I probably wouldn’t have ran. Running helped me get through the stress and uncertainty. I also worked on my mindset and realized that a positive mindset would help me succeed in running (and business). This was part of the journey and the goal would be achieved as a result of hard work, determination, and a positive mindset.

It’s been a rough 2020, but I’m going into 2021 as a new person.

I haven't qualified to run Boston yet, I haven't ran a marathon in 2 years, and I didn't qualify for Boston by the time I was 30. Anyone who knows me, knows that when I set my mind on something, I do it. I don't let anything or anyone stop me. Sometimes I get so focused on one thing, I don't pay attention to the people that love me or care about others. And if I don't achieve that goal, I feel like a failure.

I'll be 31 in March and the old me would feel like a big fat failure, but I don't. It wasn't my time. I still needed to learn more about the sport of running. I needed the time to help others first in order to create the life I desired (like more time for running and warmer running weather). And most importantly, I needed to get my mind right and ask for help. If I had asked for help sooner, maybe my goal would have happened. But I've learned that it's okay for your goals to change and have realized that my mind needed to be in the right spot before it could happen. And in getting my mind right, I had to also get things in my life right.

So I am going into 2021 proud of the journey that I have had so far and know that if I trust my training and my coach, I will in no doubt qualify for Boston in 2021. And possibly run a 50K (just for fun!).

Remember your journey is your own, but I am here to help! I don’t want to see you struggle as long as I did.

Reach out to me and tell me what you will be bringing into 2021 to help you reach your running goals this year!

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