Running and Putting in the Miles

Running is just you, the work you put in, and the clock. You can’t cheat yourself. If you don’t put in the miles, you can’t go to the starting line thinking you’re going to pull a miracle out of nowhere. You get out exactly as much as you put in.  — Desiree Davila

Desi and Shalane running in the Houston Olympic Marathon Trials

I didn’t know much about Desi Davila before I saw her run in the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston in January. I hadn’t read the Runner’s World article about her beforehand, but the name on her bib was slightly familiar as she powered past us three times to take second place. Shorter than either Shalane or Kara, Desi was all focus and grit. Very impressive.

Her quote is spot on, and it’s something we all know as runners. You can’t cheat on the miles and expect to have a good marathon. They don’t say respect the distance for nothing, and 26.2 miles is a long way to be miserable because you didn’t train the way you should have.

It’s why I’m having to  bail on my second marathon in a row. Injury, sickness, and low mileage: a triple whammy of disappointment.

But that’s okay, I’m looking forward to another half marathon, and the bottom line is that I’m still able to run. Just being able to run is the prize, not the distance or the medal. And for me, getting to the starting line is what I enjoy the most.

Some people hate the training but love the race, and others love the training but hate the race. I think I fall somewhere in the middle, but I generally like the training much more than the actual race.

I do love the really long runs the most, the 16-20 milers with my running friends. My toughest runs are usually the  midweek 4-6 milers, when I run alone.

Even running with one of my dogs makes a difference. Running with music has no effect on me, and I rarely run with my iPod. I run most of my miles on the streets in my neighborhood, and many drivers passing through tend to slow down rather than stop at stop signs, and music is just one more thing that could distract me from paying attention to the cars. I’ve almost been hit twice, and neither time was I listening to music, so I don’t want to press my luck.

In the summer, putting in the miles is the toughest for me. As the days get warmer and longer, I’m already starting to dread summer. No matter how hard I try to stay positive about running when it’s hot, no matter what game plan I come up with, no matter how early or late in the day I run, I still struggle.

My only consolation is knowing it will make me a stronger runner, both mentally and physically.

Five weeks out from Eugene I have to acknowledge that I haven’t been able to put in the miles like I wanted to. Rather than beat myself up, like I usually do, I have to focus on knowing that I will be able to complete the half, even if it won’t be my fastest time. I’m good with that.

Whenever I get to the tough part of an uphill during a run or race I say my hill mantra, over and over, until I reach the top: Just keep going. I think it actually applies to all aspects of my running, and it applies to pulling back from another marathon to the half as well.

It really is all about the running and nothing more than that matters.

One foot in front of the other, mile after mile, until you get to the end.

Just keep going.


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