The runner's ego is a powerful thing. It gets us in all kinds of trouble. In the end it usually gets us injured.
Let me give you a bit of background. I have been running for about 10 years. I was always a 10 minute per mile runner until about a year and a half ago when I started lifting weights. Almost immediately my speed increased, and I worked my way up until an 8:30 pace was just above comfortable. I could run a 5K at just over an 8 minute pace and a half marathon at a 9 minute pace. It certainly isn't considered super fast, but it was fast for me. Why am I telling you this? Because I just signed up to run with an 11 minute pace training group and my ego made me explain to you first that I used to be faster.
About six months ago, something really weird started happening. I am still not sure exactly what it is, but I think I developed a type of exercise-induced asthma. I started to cough when I would run. I am fine at first, but within a mile or two, my throat fills up with phlegm and I am left standing on the side of the road hacking it up. It all goes away as soon as I stop running. It put a huge damper on my running and I ended up frustrated and side-lined.
But what am I going to do? Never run again? Of course not. I had to figure out how to manage this. I started using an inhaler. I've been running again, easing back into it. There is some loss of fitness from the time off. I found if I don't push my pace at all, run really slow, and even take walk breaks, I don't cough at all. Some days are good, I feel great and I don't cough, and some days are...well, the opposite of that.
So what does an all-or-nothing personality type do when she hasn't been running regularly for six months? She signs up for full marathon training at Fort Worth Running Company !
Marathon Training at Fort Worth Running Company
I decided it was the best way to jump back into it and get motivated to run again. I hardly ran at all for months, now I'm committing to a full marathon. I am excited and nervous. Excited about training with running coaches and a group for those long runs. I'm nervous about committing to 26.2 miles. I'm really nervous that my coughing episodes are going to hold me back.
Then came the ego. On my first day of marathon training I had to choose a pace group. I couldn't help but think, "Aw man, why am I starting over? If I was doing this six months ago, I'd be in the 9 minute pace group." (Sigh). I knew what I had to do. I chose the 11 minute pace group because I already know that running slower keeps me from coughing. There are no scheduled walk breaks here, so I had to choose a pace that I knew I could maintain and not cough. I felt bad about having to choose the 11 minute group, but I don't know why I would feel bad about that, except for my own ego.
I know better. It is not like anyone is judging me on my pace. No one else cares. It is not something I wear with shame like the Scarlet Letter. There is no shame in any pace. It is what it is. There is no good pace or bad pace. It is your pace, your level, your ability. If you run a 7 minute mile or a 13 minute mile, there will likely be someone faster and someone slower. I had to get over myself and be honest about my current abilities. Running slow trumps not running at all. Every. Single. Time.
I didn't sign up for this training to prove to everyone what a great marathon runner I already am. I signed up to train to be a marathon runner. It is a six month process. Where I start is not nearly as important as where I end up. We all have to start somewhere, whether it is starting-over or starting for the first time.
I could have listened to my ego and chosen the 10 minute group, struggled needlessly, and risked injury, but why? Does anyone around me give a crap care at all what pace I run? No, of course not. Who am I trying to impress? I think just my ego.
The ducks don't care how fast I run (and neither does anyone else).
Does anyone out there have exercise-induced asthma (or coughing)? Does your runner's ego ever get in the way?
Will you follow along with me as I begin my full marathon training?