Running : It’s About Me, Me, Me (and you, you, you)

Last night (when I started this post) my point in all this seemed really clear and I was all, ‘yeah man! I got my writing mojo back! blog posts for dayyyyyssss!’

And now it seems kind of pointless and really scatterbrained.  Apparently my brain works better on Budweiser rather than Coffee.

Here it goes, anyways…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I’ve been talking marathon’ing a lot with people lately.

With three marathons under my belt and a fourth on the way, on paper it seems I’m at least somewhat qualified to talk about it.

Ha. But really?

Let’s remember Mary #1 – where I did nothing but run – 5x/week, at the same pace, no cross training, no weights, no stretching… and (surprise, surprise) wound up injured two weeks before race day.

Cleveland May '10

Minus 10 points Sarah

And then there was Mary #2, my “Redemption Race” – where I followed the rules and still wound up injured near the end of the Runner’s World Break 4 or Bust 16-week plan.

Nike Women's Oct '10

Minus 10 more points.

I told the marathon I “needed some space – it’s not you, it’s me!” and spent the winter focusing on shorter distances, lifting, and falling in love with yoga.

And then, a dare – Is 5 weeks long enough to get ready for a marathon? For a free entry to the LA Marathon, could I go from 5 mile shape to 26.2 in just over a month?

LA March '11

I did, but it obviously wasn’t ideal.

…According to the experts. The “rule followers”.

Sane people.

To me though, it worked.  It was tough, but the shorter training plan worked for me. And that’s the most important part about distance running – learning what works for YOU.

So why do we spend so much time seeking advice? Reading from the experts? Talking game plans with fellow runners? Making training plans just to throw them down the shitter 3 days later?

What, just me?

There ARE things we can learn from each other – I had a good chat with a reader who was struggling mentally to get through her first marathon training cycle. I shared my tips to make long runs suck less, training not seem never-ending, and raceday be a little less anxiety-ridden.

On the other hand, I sent a 1,441 word email to an old friend that’s flirting with the idea of getting into marathon’ing – and almost every other sentence was,

‘But that’s what works for me – you’ll need to figure out what works for you’

I LOVE the running community – who’s willing to talk distance endlessly, compare fueling options, and nit-pick race logistics till they’re blue in the face.  The support and infinite pool of opinions and experience is awesome. But I also think that comparisons are very easy to fall victim to.

So-and-so does this.  Yasso says I need to run this.  Clif tells me their glorified fruit snacks will help me from dying while running.  Doctors tell me to stop running.  Teammates tell me to run more, run faster.

While a lot of it is sound advice (fueling before you feel you need it, protein afterwards, bodyglide everywhere…) so much of it is about our own personal needs as a runner.

  • Cely & I are Team Pre-Run Snickers, but obvs your peanut allergy isn’t going to let that work for you
  • Paula can’t have sugar during runs, which is sad because margarita shot bloks turn long runs into party time
  • SkinnyRunner can race in skirts because her thighs don’t violently rub together, while us chubrub’ers are sworn to capris to avoid death-by-chafe
  • Janae can wear racing flats because she’s speedy and weighs 10 lbs, while your max support Aasics might be the only thing keeping your feet from crumbling to dust underneath you
You get the idea.
I think we all fall into the comparison trap at some point, at some level, in some way.  And if you CAN read about running and racing and training and still go out and do your own thang without influence, more power to ya.

But to the rest of us – while we’re all hitting peak weeks, tapering, or gearing up for fall race season – all I’m saying is to make sure you keep your running about you, and only you.  Remember why YOU love it.  Remember what works for YOU.  Remember what YOUR goals are.

And then damnit, go kill it.

(I don’t know where my preacher side came from) Sarah OUaL


30 thoughts on “Running : It’s About Me, Me, Me (and you, you, you)

  1. I love you Sarah OUaL. Oh yes I do.

    I’m currently learning what works for me, and what doesn’t. With sweet sweet taper season just a few days away we’ll see how my first (and last) go ’round with mary training has gone.

    After this I will be skipping and spirit-fingering (ew, that sounds weird) in the world of half-marys from now on.


  2. Amen! Can we get a gospel running choir up in this piece?

    Agree with you on all fronts.

    My theory, though, on your avoiding injury more now is yoga. And I’m the first not to follow my own advice because I am hanging onto the yoga wagon by my pinky finger, and I can feel that fact in my IT bands. I need to find the time to do it more.


  3. Yeah I learned the hard way that the pre-run Snickers wasn’t gonna work for me. Treadmill + stomach churning = no fun. I totally agree… figuring out what works for me has been all trial and error, but thanks to all of you bloggers and your tips and tricks I’m definitely getting a good system down. I should call it the Once Upon a Skinny Hungry Reeses method since I’ve definitely taken notes from all of you.


  4. Ahhhhh this is SO true. I had to stop reading certain blogs bc I got so caught up in comparing myself to runners I equated my equals and getting sown on myself if I didn’t run as fast or as long as them. Its so easy to get caught up doing the comparison game but so much better if you can avoid it


  5. I liked this post. I just wish there was a way to “figure out what works for you” that didn’t involve so much trial and error! I attempted a marathon last year but got injured. Attempt #2 is coming up next year and I really hope I’ve had some success with figuring out my personal game plan. Thanks for sharing yours!


  6. I am still learning what works best for me. Your #1 is so me! I was so close to running my first half but I never cross-trained, hardly stretched and wanted too much speed too fast. Then I had a stress fracture. It sucked! Now that I am training for a triathlon, I have learned how important cross training is. My long-ish runs feel much easier and I am more relaxed.

    Btw, I am also a capris and tight shorts type of person. Chubby thighs unite!


  7. I hate when my damn thighs are hungry! When are you going to design the Suck Less, Run Faster program!

    I heartily agree with you on the personalization of training. I have only run 2 marathons…I too need some space after my spewing episode of the last one…and still am not sure what is best for me. Cross training and STRETCHING need to happen for me though. I waaaaay neglected them during mary 1 & 2. Now, my hip flexors are 3 inches long. :/


  8. Preach it, sister!

    I’ll tell you what…I figured out my problem with running long distances. I can only do it at night. A good, ole fashioned morning run? ABSOLUTE TORTURE for me. My ass creates more friction on the concrete than my (what did you call them? ah, yes…) ‘chubrub’ers’ do together. I don’t think there’s enough bodyglide in the world to protect against that.

    But maybe the snickers trick could work. After all, we share an affinity for ‘mallows so maybe our stomachs are kin or something.

    p.s. awesome post, lady. you inspired me to run tonight!


  9. AHH! i want to do a marathon. im such a lil bitch…. scared big time! Ive done 10 1/2 marathons and have another this sunday, every single time im at the finish line i say i can never imagine this being the halfway point!?!? Finishing is Finishing! Good for you on all your races good & bad! You are like 2 seconds away from your sub 4hr!!!! GET IT GuUuRL!


  10. Hahaha!! Where do I get the “margarita shot bloks??” Maybe those could be an incentive to get my hubby out there!!

    Your so right on with this post! You’ve got to do what works for YOU!! AMEN!

    Have a great weekend!! :)


  11. LOVE THIS! It’s so true. You are the ONLY one who is going to be running your race.

    I’m on an abbreviated marathon plan right now and I’m pretty much scared shitless but I’m just trying to roll with it this time. Most people in my running group are running like 80 miles a week and I’m doing 35-40 at best because that’s what works for me right now.

    I still havent figured out how to properly dress for a marathon though. I suffer from chub rub but refuse to wear crops.


  12. I love this post. It came at a perfect time for me. I’m struggling so much lately with what race plans to follow, I’m slower than I used to be and I started feeling pressure. Now that I think about it I’m constantly comparing myself and I’m not really listening to what works best for me and makes me happy. I almost forgot how happy racing makes me. I’m going to refocus and have fun!


  13. I totally agree with you!!!! Too often I compare myself to others but it helps to remind myself-if it were easy, everyone could run a marathon. Just being out there training and trying my best is what keeps me motivated. That, and the sheer terror of running my first full 26.2 miles in 3 weeks!!!


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