Respect the Process

After writing about the twinge of jealousy I was feeling about my friend running her first half and full marathon rather spontaneously, I sat with my emotions for a while. I was a bit embarrassed I even shared them here. I am actually in awe of my friend’s abilities. I accept that she is a different runner with her own unique skills and strengths.  I’ve asked her in the past to consider running with me in order to help me improve my speed. She is more than willing to, but we haven’t been able to coordinate our schedules. She has also asked me if she could join me on long runs to help build her endurance. Maybe I was a little bent out of shape that she didn’t need me after all.

Jealousy is ugly and I have a history of carrying around a great deal of it. I’ve done a lot of work in recent years to overcome reacting with jealousy, but occasionally it begins to bubble up.  I am aware that it is my own issue stemming from insecurity and lack of confidence.

I thought about what I was feeling and realized it wasn’t envy. I’m not jealous of my friend’s running ability or her race time.  So what was it then?

When my friend texted me that day about running a marathon that was a month away I instantly thought, but you haven’t trained. You need to train for a marathon. It’s not something you just get up one morning and decide to do. I was annoyed that she wasn’t respecting the marathon training process.

Ahh marathon training! I believe I actually love the process of training for a marathon more than the marathon itself. It is the training that I crave. I love the schedule, the alternating workouts, the challenge of the long run each week, preparing my CamelBak, trying new fueling techniques, and waking up at the butt crack of dawn to run in the dark (just kidding I don’t really enjoy this part). The race is just the icing on the cake.

My running journey has grown from a run/walk around a local track to marathons. I needed to take baby steps along the way to eventually get to the starting line of my first marathon. In order to ensure success which to me simply meant finishing the marathon uninjured I needed go through months of training for that first marathon. During that time I increased my mileage gradually, learned how to fuel properly, and overcame many challenges including broken ribs. I thrived on having a schedule, a specific run or workout of the day, and the marathon served as the end goal.

Each training has been designed differently, but one thing remains the same, I need the training process in order to reach MY goals. Training gives me a sense of purpose during the months leading up to the marathon and provides me with specific focus. On the day of the marathon it is important for me to feel like I’ve done everything possible to properly prepare for the race.

Before venturing into distance running I read about the training preparations of many runners, professional, semi-professional, and casual runners like me. I have listened to numerous podcasts and interviews to learn more about how people train for distance races. I’m even more fascinated with the process of training for an ultra marathon. I continue to learn and seek information about long distance running. I love the running, but I am also a bit of a geek when it comes to the process of developing endurance, stamina, and creating a solid foundation to maintain health, nutrition, flexibility, and the mental fortitude to continue running long distances. This is something that energizes me, inspires me, and provides fuel for my running dreams.

All of what I just wrote is about ME, not my friend. I realized that I was kind of pissed off that she had no intention of dedicating herself to months of training for her first marathon. She obviously doesn’t respect the process, I thought. Now I see that is just ridiculous.  My friend will do what is right for her. Running that half marathon clearly made her feel confident that she could complete a full marathon weeks away. She probably doesn’t need months of training. She most likely doesn’t want that either. She has told me before that she wished she could run long distances. Perhaps my own accomplishments inspired my friend to finally take the leap into distance running. Maybe I should try looking at the situation from that angle.

This is not a competition. I should not compare myself to a friend with vastly different abilities. I am ashamed for feeling anything but joy for my friend. I want to support her and show her I’m proud of her success.


One thought on “Respect the Process

  1. It is like that line in ‘Legally Blonde’ – Do you think she just woke up one day and thought ‘hey, I think I’ll go to law school’. 🙂

    I have mixed thoughts – my wife and I had years of infertility and miscarriages before having our two boys, so there was definitely jealous resentment over those who seemed to be able to will themselves pregnant … and then to say ‘next we’ll have a girl’ and it just happened like picking out an appliance. As you say it is an ugly thing … but uglier still would be lying about it on top. 🙂

    But on the other hand I like to have myself ‘half marathon ready’ – I run ~60+ miles/week and know I could do a reasonable race (for me) if someone said to me ‘wanna run a half this Saturday’? I have heard mixed feedback from people on this – like you say sometimes people aren’t thrilled to think of that readiness as such a casual thing.

    I think it is hard – especially in this social media fueled era – to really focus on what is right for *US*. I see people who think they need to run long distances to be ‘real runners’ and end up hurt again and again. For what?

    Running is supposed to be fun – and that is what it is for me, a combination of fun, fitness and overall healthiness (I eat better when running). The rest – distance, pace, races, whatever – is all just extra stuff that I did without for the first 23 years I ran, and took a couple of years to get under control after I started doing races.

    What you say is very true that what you have done has inspired others – I know I hear that on Facebook very often, and it is actually a bit embarrassing to me, but if someone else gets to enjoy running the way I do, that is awesome.

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