Why I Decided to Try Running a Marathon Again

Back in January 2014, I ran the Houston Chevron Marathon straight out of collegiate racing. Since I still had fresh collegiate racing legs, my distance training came so much easier, and frankly, I was probably overconfident in the fact that my endurance that I'd built up over all these years would work in my advantage on race day. This made me think that I also didn't need to do all the extra things to make me a better runner to have a good outcome.

On raceday, all my endurance capabilities were tested and on my rookie marathon I proudly became a Boston Marathon qualifier--a status many endurance runners train so hard for years to get. I was on such a runner's high for the next month that I was even beginning to plan my next training schedule to reach the coveted sub-3 hour marathon time. Needless to say, due to my carlessneess, overconfidence, and skipping out on other important parts of my initial marathon training like strength conditioning and flexibility, I ended up getting a hip injury that crippled any kind of running for the next year. 

During that year I learned my lesson and devoted myself to plenty of cycling, yoga, seeking chiropractic care, and stength training. It took a while for the hip pain to subside but, I slowly started to see my running improve from 1/2 mile to to 3 miles to now 7 mile runs. It has taken lots of patience and continuous effort  to reach these runs.

Even though, I am relieved and thankful that I am able to run again pain-free (knock on wood), I have this feeling gnawing away at me to try marathoning again. It has took lots of self-pep talks, words of encouragement from friends and loved ones, and mostly just listening to my gut, but I finally decided to run the 2017 Houston Chevron Marathon after three years. This is why I am taking the plunge to do this again:

1. I needed a physical challenge.

When I started running again last summer, every day felt like a challenge to get back out there on the trails and complete 20 minute runs. Since the spring, I started being more disciplined about the length of my runs and how many times per week I have been running. I feel very happy and see my progress from 5 min run intervals for 20-30 minitea to now averaging 50-60 mins per day for 6-7 days per week. Even though I am in a comfortable place in my running, I feel like it's time to starting feeling uncomfortable again and keep pushing myself. 

Signing up for marathon, a 26.2 race, keeps me accountable for staying on top of my mileage, especially on days when I say I am going to  run 7 miles and end up running 5 miles instead. I know that I can't sign up for the marathon and continue running what I am now. I will have to increase mileage on a weekly basis with two-a-days and especially get my long runs up to 2+ hours before race day in January. My goal for the race is not just to finish, but to also qualify for Boston again.

2. Incomplete goals

Unfortunately, because I sustained injuries from my last marathon in 2014 I was never able to actually sign up and run the Boston Marathon. I refuse to allow my past running setbacks to try to define my future racing capabilities  Being able to run this particular marathon opens up so many other marathon racing doors. Should I finish this marathon with a qualifying time, my next goal would be to remain healthy, and line up for the Boston Marathon.

3. I want to know what comes next for my body. 

When you run for 26 miles, the amount of fatigue and strain you put on your body is sometimes a small price to pay once you finish. Upon finishing, you feel like you can endure any kind of mental and physical challenge.

For me, once I finish, this will be a confidence booster towards my running. This sport is definitely an addiction and I want to continue to run marathons all over the world. Hopefully in January I am able to finish and will eventually plan to either get faster at this race or move towards ultra marathoning. 

 

The decision on whether to sign up this year was gnawing away at me for months. I felt very unsure of my capabilities and also a little afraid of failure, but then I remembered the worst that can really happen is if I step off the course or I never actually sign up. As cliche as it sounds, the first step is always the hardest one to take, but since signing up, I haven't felt this excited about a race in a very long time. I am definitely looking for all the training miles to come. 

 

Let's Shine, 

Starla