Bill Rodgers, veteran marathoner said it best: "The marathon can humble you. " But let's face it. Running any distance is hard. Running is humbling.
Any runner who has trained for an event and then crashed and burned would agree. I talk a lot about my disappointing first Chicago marathon. I trained well for that race. I set a goal time for 4:30 to finish, based on my training runs. My 20 miler went without a hitch. Then came the morning of the race. I was already a bundle of nerves. But what did me in was the heat of the day. While I was prepared to run the distance, I wasn't mentally prepared to deal with the conditions. And those conditions were my undoing. I was so humbled by this race that I couldn't even consider doing another marathon until I won that entry last summer, a full 3 years later.
Respect the distance? Yes, sir!
I've come a long way since that race. My second marathon was the race I knew I had in me. I've run quite a few halfs since then as well, and most of them have gone well.
Alrighty, then! I've got this thing!
Ok, maybe not. I say most of those halfs, because, last year I had 2 very difficult, humbling halfs. Both of them were run in high humidity and heat, which seems to be the biggest humbler for me.
There are a few other "humblers" that keep me in check.
A few weeks ago, during my virtual half marathon, I got a horrible side stitch! I tried to run it off, which works most of the time, but this one was really painful and I had to stop and walk. I thought only beginners got side stitches? Talk about humbling. According to this article in Runner's World, side stitches are caused by a spasm in the diaphragm. The diaphragm gets fatigued, just like any other muscle in the body. I was tired and hot on that run. But a side stitch? I haven't stopped thinking about it, and have been paying a lot more attention to my breathing since then.
Hitting the wall is humbling. Not just limited to marathon runners, hitting the wall or "bonking" happens when the body runs out of fuel. Not too long ago, I hit the wall when I was running an 8 miler. Seriously. At mile 6, my legs just didn't want to go anymore. I felt like I was running through the mud. When I finally finished and looked at my splits, I was astonished at the drop in my pace. I didn't eat before that run, which isn't unusual for me, but this time it didn't work out so well for me. I felt pretty stupid, because as an experienced runner, I should know better.
My tummy keeps me humble. I may be fast, but I can't always run the paces I want because my GI tract also likes to run. I won't go into details, but I've had to stop in the middle of a race to avoid a code brown, and that's pretty humbling. I've learned mostly what I can and cannot eat, and that has helped this issue a ton. When I eat a food that affects me, I pay the price. How many times do you have to get hit over the head before you learn a lesson?
Injuries are humbling. I've had my share of injuries, and there's nothing worse than having your feeling of invincibility shut down by ITB syndrome. Or patellofemoral stress syndrome. Both due to overuse. Both very preventable. Both very humbling. I do a lot of yoga and stretching to try to prevent some of the more common injuries. Foam rolling helps too.
The last humbler is the biggest one of all. There will be people in your life who aren't impressed with all your running and your accomplishments. Maybe it's jealousy or maybe they just don't care. Or maybe it's you? There's nothing like indifference to bring a runner back down to earth. My dad always used to say "when you're as great as me, it's hard to be humble". Tongue in cheek of course, but something to keep in mind.
No matter what it is, just when you think you've got this running thing, something happens to remind you that you're just a mere mortal. I think it's running's way of making you appreciate the gift that is running. It's important to set realistic expectations for yourself. Not every run is going to be awesome. Be grateful for those good runs. When you're having a tough time out there on the road, remind yourself of a good run. And keep it humble.
What keeps you humble?
I'm linking up with DebRuns' Wednesday Word link up! Be sure to head over to her blog and see what everyone else has to say about this week's work, humble.