Today’s post is brought to you by Maya from American Gourmande! Maya is working as a nanny in Hawaii. I love reading about her adventures while there, but also about her marathon training. Maya is training for a marathon, just as I am; and last week ran her 20 miler. Take it away Maya!
Hello Whit’s Getting Fit readers! I’m Maya, and I have a little foodie and running blog, American Gourmande.
When Whitney asked for guest bloggers, I knew I wanted to contribute. Like Whitney, I am training for my first marathon. On December 13, I will embark the 26.2 mile journey to the finish line of the Honolulu Marathon.
If you told me last year that I would be running 40 miles a week, and enjoy it, I would have laughed. Running was a chore. Exercise. A way to burn a few hundred calories, sweat, and then move on with my day. Even as a cross country runner, running was torturous.
It wasn’t until I studied abroad in French speaking Belgium that I gained an appreciation for running. In Belgium it seemed that people didn’t believe in gyms or exercising. Even on a beautiful day, there were very few joggers in the park.
After about a month of no exercise, I craved movement. I needed the endorphins to lift my spirits. My aerobic options were limited, so I laced up my sneakers and headed out the door.
I didn’t know my pace, or how many miles I ran. But as the seasons changed, I ran at least 3 or 4 times a week. I did it mainly to stay sane. Running became therapeutic. It was time to myself to think about recent events, sort through problems, and reflect. Bonus: it’s a natural mood booster and running helped me survive Belgium’s coldest winter in years.
When I returned to the United States, I had already cultivated a love for running. My peak mileage at the time was six miles. Even this past summer, running a half marathon seemed like a major goal, one in which I would need many months to train.
I moved to Hawaii in early September and joined local running clubs for group runs. Many members were training for the Honolulu marathon, and slowly the idea grew on me. It seemed like the perfect challenge and a souvenir of my time in Hawaii.
Only three months ago, a 7 mile run seemed long. A half marathon felt like a lofty goal. Now I run 13 miles or more on an ordinary long run training day. I average 35-40 miles a week, and completed my longest training run last weekend of 20 miles.
This all seems very difficult to many, and I completely understand, as fairly recently I felt the same. However, I’ve found that the biggest obstacle in marathon training is mental. Of course, marathon training requires a base line of fitness. You can’t jump off the couch one day and expect to run 10+ miles the next. But if you are capable of six mile runs, I am fairly confident that with proper training and care, you can conquer 26.2 miles.
Just because you are capable of marathon training doesn’t mean that you should want to. DEFINITELY do not should feel pressure to. If you want to train a marathon, do so for yourself and no one else. And please, don’t do it for weight loss. Do it because you love running and want to see how far it goes.
And if running ain’t your thang, there are plenty of other physical challenges you can pursue. Like doing 50 consecutive push-ups, biking 100 miles, doing a head stand or back bend in yoga.
During my 20 mile run last Sunday I started to hit a wall by mile 15. I could only overcome that wall mentally. I imagined my Garmin reading 20 miles and willed my legs to move. At the end of the day, all these physical challenges demand a lot of your body. But they also require 110% of you mentally. You need to believe in yourself fully to make your physical challenge possible.
Most importantly, whatever physical challenge you decide to undertake, make sure you love it! And good luck!
The smile on my face is 100% genuine. This is during a long run after taking a week off from running to prevent injury. I was so happy to be hitting the pavement again!
Thank you so much for sharing your story Maya! One question: Where did you find that cute running outfit?