For the past two months, I have been strictly following my marathon training schedule for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. Typically, I would try to find the positive aspects of dedicating my life to running, but I have found myself complaining to basically anyone with ears. Let’s face it, IT IS HOT. It is hot when I wake up at 5:00 a.m. to “avoid” the heat. It is incredibly hot in the middle of the day- I think people who run at this time are clinically insane. And it is even hot after dinner time when the sun starts going down. To top it all off, it is ALWAYS humid. Five minutes in and I am already profusely sweating due to the blanket of moisture that envelopes me when I walk out the door. Instead of becoming completely discouraged and giving up (which I don’t think is possible because my running partner would probably hit me or something), I have resorted to researching motivational running strategies and tactics. Sadly, what I have found is that they are not always inspiring. Here is a little gem of a quote I came across when reading about marathon racing:
“The Wall.” It evades easy definition, but to borrow from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition of obscenity, you know it when you see it—or rather, hit it. It usually happens around mile 20, give or take a couple of miles. Your pace slows, sometimes considerably. Some runners say that it feels as though their legs had been filled with lead quail shot, like the stomach of Mark Twain’s unfortunate jumping frog of Calaveras County. Others can’t feel their feet at all. Thought processes become a little fuzzy. (“Mile 22, again? I thought I just passed mile 22!”) Muscle coordination goes out the window, and self-doubt casts a deep shadow over the soul. (http://www.marathonandbeyond.com/choices/latta.htm).
Upon first read, I literally felt like a tangible wall was coming at me. A brick wall that I could not break through and that would cause severe pain if I tried. I read the rest of the article, which was actually quite informative, and then I decided to reread the quote. This is where I had an AHA moment- I realized that I share this wall with every runner. Despite the vivid imagery this quote provides, I began to find comfort in the fact that I am not alone in sometimes feeling defeated. Self-doubt encompasses every runner (and person in general) at times, and this should be used as a learning opportunity, not as an excuse to give up.
Although I am still dreading my long runs in this Charleston heat and humidity, I have a little more determination to prevail. I am going to complete this training and the actual marathon not just to gloat about my accomplishment and to have the right to slap that 26.2 sticker on my car window, but to prove to myself that I can overcome self-doubt, or “my wall”. This marathon is not the first, and will surely not be the last, obstacle I face in life, nor will it be the only thing I am able to overcome. I will apply this newly-found motivation to any and all distractions and complications that arise.
And I will be able to apply this optimism sooner rather than later. Why you ask? Well because school starts August 23rd, meaning that my stress level will increase about ten-fold in the next few weeks. As you all know, grad school is challenging. As with many things in life, the thought has crossed my mind to just plain give up. At times, I have felt like the wall is simply too strong and impossible to break down. But, I will continue to use my strength to break down this wall of stress. Like the marathon, I will prevail. I will realize that every other grad student is in my same boat. My life is not harder than my classmates’, and complaining will get me nowhere. Just knowing that I am not completely alone in my stress will be enough to carry me through to the end…graduation!
I hope this post wasn’t too humdrum for you. Really, I wanted it to be more inspirational than anything. So if ever you find yourself swimming in a pool of self-doubt or feel like you are alone in the way you feel, trust me when I say you are not. Most people experience this feeling multiple times throughout life, but it’s the way people chose to react obstacles and stress that defines their character.