Thursday, May 10, 2012

'What are you training for?'

I have been asked this twice this week. I remember being asked this same question whilst recovering between hill reps in the countryside near my home in Scotland as a teenager, by the farmer whose sheep were usually my only company during this particular session. 

After what felt like a long pause I managed to name my next race but felt like I had sold myself short. I wasn't just training for the next race I was training for what I wanted to be a long and fruitful career in athletics, training for an Olympic gold medal, training for a world record in the 800m, training because running was what I knew and loved. But that would have made the weird girl running up the short sharp hill 15 times seem even more nuts, right?

So I here I was again, at the High school track this time, 34 year old mother of 3 on a Monday night doing a session of 1200's in 80 degree heat. 

'What AM I training for?' 'Why am I here?' 'What on earth am I playing at?' Thoughts like these have been bothering me during my 1st 12 months back into running. This has turned from an urge to get running again into so much more. I am running every day, about to start twice a day, my body has changed out of sight from soft, just had a baby to hard and angled, with bony bits I never knew existed.
I have acquired a coach, am going shopping for spikes and trainers on Sunday as my Mothers Day treat, 'What am I training for????' 

I'm training because I love it, I love to run I love to get faster, I love that I feel like I'm almost running again. I want to see what I can do, what this body can achieve. Can I run a sub 3 hour marathon a mere 2 years after starting from scratch? Can I get an Olympic qualifying standard? Can I have a marathon PR that begins with 2:3x ????? 
I am also being 100% self indulgent and enjoying the break and freedom running represents to me now I have kids. Being a stay at home mum of a 5, 3 and 1 year old is....tough. Here comes the compulsory, 'I love it' but it is TOUGH! 

So my answer now is 'I'm training for a marathon'. It's still not the full answer, it doesn't take into account the 5k's, 10k's, half's, freedom, sense of independence, SANITY!!!! But it will suffice. 
I made a conscience decision to throw out all those nagging 'why's' a couple of months ago. Who cares 'why'? The fact is I am training, I am running, I have goals, tough goals and I want to see how far I can go. 
But I am also aware that it is easy, oh so easy to pronounce my LOVE of running when I am only 16 months in and PR's are still tumbling. I know what's to come, I know my improvement has to slow down, I know I will more than likely plateaux I may even drop back a bit but I am hopeful that even when these things happen I will not lose sight of how wonderful it is to just run. Forget times (I hate that Garmin), forget Jack Daniels (where is his chapter on love and joy of running anyway?!), just the freedom alone is enough to have me hooked for what I hope is a very long time.

Oh, the 2nd guy that asked me was an 80something in the Y today. I had just put in a hilly 6 on the treadmill with my pace ranging from around 8:30-7:00 min/mile pace.
'What are you training for, a marathon or something?'
'yes a marathon'
'I knew it, I've never seen anyone run like you before'.
I took it to be a compliment, I think it was! It made my day actually, I felt a little bit special :D Hope I'm still moving and exercising like he was when I'm in my 80's, there's inspiration all around us!

Incidentally the spikes are for the all comers track meets that start next week at Rice Uni. I also need a pair for my short/fast track sessions on a Wednesday. Q: How long does it take this 34 year old to run an 800m and 1500m, I'll find out next Thursday evening I guess, by which time I will be 35, sigh. 

So 'what are you training for?'.........

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