Friday, August 3, 2012

Embrace the hard

I love running.

This week running has pushed me to new levels, given me time alone to think, pray, and reflect, challenged me, given me an opportunity to be there for a friend going through a hard time, given me time alone with Josh, and given me lots of fun. On top of that, I am SO excited to watch track and field in the Olympics starting today!!

This morning's run was the last hard run in a tough training week.

I was excited for the challenge, and even though I was a little nervous looking at the schedule  I was confident I could and would finish it. I decided to take it just one day, one run at a time.

The mileage was in the low 80's which is not the highest I have done, but there was a LOT of intensity. My shortest/easiest days were 10 miles at an easy pace. I had a fast 14 miler, a double run day (one run of which was a track workout), a 10-mile tempo, and then this morning's 18 miler.

The days of long, slow runs are gone for me. Today's long run plan was two miles of warm-up, eight miles at goal marathon pace (7:15), four miles 15 seconds faster than marathon pace, and then two miles 30 seconds faster than marathon pace, followed by a two mile cool down.

Splits were -  (8:20, 8:09), 7:08, 7:07, 7:16, 7:10, 7:06, 7:05, 7:08, 7:03, 6:52, 6:53, 6:50, 6:54, 6:40, 6:51, (8:32, 8:34) cool down.

The only fuel I used (and needed!) was Fluid Performance.  (And my stomach was better than it ever has been on a long run).  If you have not checked out Fluid yet, I encourage you too! You can find it on their website, and it is also sold on and

I enjoy long runs. I went into this one as well-rested as possible at the end of a tough training week, well-fueled, and excited for the challenge. Josh rode his bike along side of me for the last 10 miles, and with the exception of the last mile and a half, I felt really strong and good the whole time. That last mile and a half was a grind, but I got it done. I enjoyed this run. My body, mind, and soul were happy.

Even when it's hard - even when it's REALLY hard - even when my body is screaming for a break - I still love running. I enjoy the challenge. I embrace the hard. I love it.

Recently I saw a quote that said something along the lines of "Don't complain about the results you did not get from the work you did not do". I usually don't like things that come of snarky like that, but lately there does seem to be a lot of people who are unhappy that they haven't magically gotten faster, thinner, stronger, etc. I have had people tell me that I am "lucky"that I am fast and fit. There are many, many reasons I consider myself lucky in life, but losing 80lbs and being where I am at with my running is a result of three years of hard work, commitment, dedication, and persistence.

The truth of it is, that you aren't going to get thin and toned from eating well for just a couple of weeks or from doing a "cleanse" or taking a pill. You aren't going to become a faster runner with inconsistent training, or without pushing your body continually past what is comfortable. It takes consistent hard work and commitment, day in and day out. To lose weight or to improve in running (or at anything) you have to want it, and you have to be willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

I love the Olympics. I love seeing the passion in the athletes and see them achieve greatness in the sports they love. I love reading/hearing/watching about how hard the athletes work, and how much they put in to their training. I especially love seeing how other moms (and dads!) do it. I know I will never be at that level of performance, and yet I know to reach my own goals and my own best, it will take (continued) consistent hard work.

I enjoy it. I love it. That's why I get up every day at 4am. That's why I ensure that I am eating healthy foods and putting good fuel into my body. That is why I value the rest that my body needs and take my recovery after each run seriously. That's why I do my core and strength training, and why I always stretch and foam roll. That's why I continue to push myself and strive to be better. That's why I get excited instead of intimidated when my awesome coach tells me that he is going to give me a super challenging training week. That's why I welcome the challenge and embrace the hard.

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies is from Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own.

"If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great."

The men's marathon is on Sunday! Check out this wonderful video that shows a typical day in Olympic Marathoner Meb Keflezighi's life. (I ran on Meb's team for the NYC Marathon last year and got to spend some time with him and his family. I literally bumped into him in Boston, and have stayed in touch with him and his brother, Merhawi. They are two of the nicest people you could ever know). Go Meb!!

Happy Friday everybody! Good luck to everyone racing this weekend and I hope all of your runs are good ones.


Kathy said...

Wow - what amazing splits! Well done seeing such a challenging week through! The Fluid Performance has got my attention - just might need to order some for a trial!
Yay! Time for track and field - can't wait!

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

I love running hard, too, seeing what I can do on the hard training days. I ran 18 miles today, too. Glad to hear you've found something that agrees with your stomach - it's a puzzle sometimes.

Suz and Allan said...

I love that quote from A League of Their Own. It's such a good one that applies to so many different facets of life.

Canuck Mom said...

I love this post Erin!! I agree completely with you. You are inspiring for sure. In fact I have been getting up at 4:30 am everyday and will be up at 4 am one day this upcoming week for my long run.

misszippy said...

Nothing worth doing is going to be a walk in the park, that is for sure!

Glad you are figuring out the tummy issues. What a big relief for you!

I did 18 today also in a glycogen depleted state (new approach to my long runs). Very hot/humid conditions. I was a bit light-headed and sluggish by the end. Replenishment food/drink never tasted so good!

susette said...

Going to attempt my first night run tonight at the Midnight Legacy Half Marathon. Should be a fun and interesting race.

Jill said...

Great job on the long run, girl! You continue to shine and I just love that about you!! :) The long run used to be my favorite run too. It's my nemesis now, but one day I hope it comes back to me!


Lynn said...

Wow...I think you are one of my new heroes!

I am new to running and just starting to train for my first 5K. What you are doing amazes me!

Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

i could not agree with you more - it takes HARD work and dedication and it is so worth it. "luck" is not a part of this equation.

congrats on this incredibly hard week of training! that 18 miler -- amazing, erin! i am so amazed by you!

i love that video of meb. i have watched it so many times and i shed tears every time! yesterday watching the womens 10000m was incredible - i cried then too. just so amazed and inspired by these athletes. it makes me so proud to be a runner, a fighter and a dreamer.

keep it up, erin! we are all cheering for you!! xo

brg said...

last year I read a book "talent is overrated". the gist of the book was the *very talented* people in the world from Mozart, Tiger Wood, Warren Buffet had worked extremely hard, practiced/trained mindfully, were focused and disciplined - and that got them to the top of their game.

I sincerely believe there is no substitute for all those things. I have *no doubt* that your hard work, focus and discipline have enabled you make such big improvements and gains.

However; with that said sometime there are genetic factors in play where a person can't reach their goal. Take for example Miranda Carfee(Kona Ironman champ) - she wanted to be a pro basketball player, but at 5'2" no matter how hard she practiced - it would never be. There is no doubt that she has what is takes mentally & discipline wise to reach a world class level as proven in her Kona win. But her genetics kept her from competing in a her first love - basketball.

In running and cycling (i'm a long time mtn biker & new runner)there are certain genetic/physiological advantages like VO2 max that no amount of hard work can overcome. From what I read you can increase it some with training, but you aren't going to go from 42 (like me) to in the high 50s - 70s (like most elite runners & cyclists). As a mtn biker I worked very hard to become more efficient (cornering faster, riding switchbacks quickly, blasting down trails full of boulders, keeping momentum up, etc) All the work improved my riding and I reached the Expert level in mtn bike racing. But I was never able to keep up with the really fast expert girls on the climbs (I would get them on the descents tho ;) ) - the part that requires the requires the physiological efficiency of a high VO2.

I'm a late bloomer - never did anything athletic until I was 41 and took up mtn biking, but every year I have worked very hard and focused on my weaknesses. Every year I got faster and better. Now as I turn my attention to running at the age of 50 - I have no doubt i will get better and faster - age be damned. I will do the best I can with my measly 42 VO2 max, but I will always wonder what it would be like to couple my hard work with some genetic physiological benefits that help in the cardio based sports.

Sorry for the huge comment - I hope you don't take this comment as negative - there is no substitute for hard work & mental toughness (which you have plenty of) but sometimes a little help from the genetic side of things can play a part too...

Adrienne said...

Whoa, that's intense. I LOVE the games! Have you read Miss Zippy's post on "sacrifice". I don't see competitive excellence as a sacrifice, but a privilege.

SupermomE12 said...

"Brg" - I absolutely agree that genetics plays a part in being the best of the best, and I have never suggested that anyone can accomplish anything they want with hard work and dedication. Obviously our goals have to be realistic (and we all have genetic limitations to some degree)- a woman who is 5'2" isn't going to be a basketball player. As I said in my post, I know that I will never make the Olympic team or be close to that level of performance - there are countless other goals that I know would not be realistic for me no matter how hard i try. I have set what I hope is a realistic goal for myself, and am working hard to reach it. I think that everyone can set realistic goals in something they love and then work towards it. I was just saying that there are no shortcuts - no substitutes for putting in the time and staying committed (to reach a goal, to lose weight, or to accomplish something significant). I do believe that hard work and dedication can go a long way in overcoming a lack of natural talent. :)

Good luck with your running and cycling! Sounds like you are doing an awesome job!!

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Just now reading this :-) you words are so, so true! Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. This is hard work, and you are the perfect example of what cn be achieved with pushing yourself to reach your full potential!
Always an inspiration to read your posts :-)

T minus 27 days!!!

Katie @ msfitrunner said...

Wow!!! That run is inspiring and impressive. I'm having a very hard time sustaining my mgp in my long runs - but I'm trying to not let it get to me. It's been super hot here, but I don't want to make excuses. I just keep plugging along! This was a great post - so inspiring and so impressive. You should be proud of your hard work and amazing 18 miler!!!