I fell victim to the "getting older" mentality. I've done long back-to-back training runs several times over the last 18+ years of long distance running. I've suffered aches, pains, injuries, crushing fatigue, never ending hunger, illness, mood swings, and burnout. More of these as the years have gone on. I assumed that the slowing down, the aches and pains, fatigue and the rest of it were just the price to be paid if I was going to keep running.
Well I was wrong and I couldn't be more excited!
A couple of weeks back I had finished up a weekend's worth of training. 19 miles on a sweaty, hot, Friday morning and another 9 miles the next hot, sweaty morning. Recovery 20 mins on Sunday. About 30 miles total. I'm almost half-way in my lengthy, somewhat aggressive 50-mile training plan which includes a regular yoga practice. I thought for sure at some point during these months of training I might have to install a grab bar in the bathroom to be able to use the toilet. I didn't expect to be feeling this good.
In fact, I don't have an intense dread in the pit of my stomach the night before long runs that I have to grapple with and push past. Granted, I don't bound out of bed with excitement at 4 am to race off into the dark but there is a calm acceptance of the task ahead.
I'm organized by my training plan but not ruled by it. I can step back and take a look at the bigger picture. I feel different qualities of fatigue both mental and physical. I know what it means when certain aches or stiffness shows up. I can choose when a run will serve me or hinder me and adjust my training plan accordingly. This isn't about being disciplined or making excuses, it's about self-care, awareness, and not finding myself having to dig out of a hole I put myself in.
I've given myself permission to rest and recover. I mean REALLY rest and recover, not just take a day "off". This might mean more sleep, healthier food choices, regular breaks, having fun, hanging out with friends, delegating tasks, deciding what's really a priority in the moment, etc. And I still get stuff done. In fact, I find I get more of the important things done.
I can face the intensity, discomfort and resulting negative thoughts with confidence. I don't have to meet the "Wall". I can feel my breath, assess, do what I need to do and continue. So much of endurance running is about mental awareness and resiliency.
I'm happily missing expected aches and pains. I've had high hamstring attachment pain for several years after a long ago injury that I spent ages trying to heal and rehab. I have never before done this volume of running without having some kind of excessive back or hip soreness. It's just not there, none of it, even after this weekend's training. In fact, I had pretty much forgotten about the hamstring pain, being so used to it, until I was considering the usual, achy suspects post-run. The muscle fatigue and soreness I do feel in my legs is proportional to the effort I've put in. I haven't been experiencing delayed onset soreness or excessive fatigue. I'm less cranky and worn down.
Did I mention that even before the above mentioned training weekend I ran a pace I haven't been able to comfortably hit in a really long time? When it's barely the beginning of summer (in Houston) and I'm far from heat/humidity acclimated yet. So delightfully unexpected just like those missing aches and pains.
For the first time since getting sort of serious about considering a 50 mile event, I have full confidence that I will become mentally and physically stronger as I train and meet the distance as prepared as possible.
They say you can't do the same things over and over again and expect different results. So how am I able to experience this training cycle with more ease than ever before? It's definitely not because I've gotten younger or found the perfect training plan.
Growing awareness and curiosity, practicing consistency, reducing compensatory movement patterns, building true stability and strength, applying real self-care and asking for the support I need in all areas of my life. In other words, Yoga Therapy.
Your goal may not be to run a 50, but we all have a life to live and challenges to face. We can struggle and push and fight our way to the inevitable end or find a way to meet it all with more ease, curiosity, grace, resiliency, strength, and confidence. We can open to possibility. Yoga Therapy can help.