One of the things I like best about running (and biking/swimming now that I've taken those up on a regular basis, too) is that it has helped me learn a lot about myself, as long as I'm paying attention. For instance, I've learned that I'm stronger than I thought I was - mentally and physically. And I've learned that I can do things that I never thought I could do, like run a half-marathon!
But this week, I've had to learn a new lesson. And it's been a more challenging one. It's a lesson about my body. And actually, it's two lessons wrapped up into one.
The first part of the lesson is that I cannot run as fast as I possibly can and expect not to be in some good bit of pain. That's what I did on Saturday at the race - ran full out, as hard and as fast as I could. I guess that's what you're supposed to do at a race, right? Well, not so much for me. I'm really lucky that I didn't give myself an injury. I have been in a good amount of pain since Sunday - right around my vulnerable area: my knees. I didn't have any running scheduled until today (just biking and swimming) which was good rest for my knees. When I ran this morning, I sure felt it around my knees. It was uncomfortable, and I took it as a warning sign that I cannot repeat what I did on Saturday unless I want to be sidelined with an injury.
I'm a bit frustrated with myself because I KNOW this lesson. The last time I got injured, which was this time last year, it was because I started trying to go too fast. At the time I was increasing my mileage at the same time. This time it was just vanity and stupidity. My BFF is faster than me. Just about everyone is faster than me, and I was being a baby about it. The Penguin can tell me there's No Need for Speed, but I was feeling bad. It wasn't that anyone has said anything to me. It wasn't that I have a desperate desire to be faster. It was that I was worried about what people thought about me. I was afraid that people would look at my times and think I must not be working very hard because I'm so slow. Or that I'm lazy because I'm not actively trying to get faster.
See that next part of the lesson? It wasn't even about ME. It was about what I thought other people might think of me. That is such a hard lesson for me to learn, too. I care too much about what other people think. I need to learn to do things for me, and for the rewards that I feel within myself. I need to stop comparing myself to everyone else, and learn to be content with my own achievements. And I have to learn to accept the limitations of my body when it comes to my training. If I desire to work on increasing my speed, then I'm going to have to work on building it up slowly... like I did with my distance. My speed seems to be naturally increasing speed on its own as I get more experienced with running, and as my body gets stronger.
I have to be mindful of my long-term goals. I want to be a runner (and an overall active person) for years and years to come. If I want to accomplish that goal, I will have to learn to be content in who I am. And that is going to be a challenging task for me! Maybe even harder than running a half-marathon! ;)