I am two runs into Week 4 of marathon training. Today I did my second short run on a really hilly trail. It took me A LOT longer than it would have had I just gone around my neighborhood, but trail running makes my joints so happy. Plus I feel like Xena Warrior Princess when I am out there confronting the elements 🙂 I wonder how Xena warded off mosquitoes?
Chapter 4 of the marathon training book asks readers if they have ever heard of somebody having an “attitude problem.” The common wisdom is that if somebody has a bad attitude, they simply need to change that attitude and continue with the hopes of living in harmony with others. The science and psychology of attitude, however, is that it is an affective framework derived from behavior. When your behavior changes, your attitude changes.
What does this have to do with marathon training? Training requires a substantial change in behavior over the course of four months. Subsequently, that behavior is going to shift attitude just as radically.
I can verify that this hypothesis is true. Since adopting a running practice last summer, I have experienced so much less stress and strife in all of the arenas of my life: Marriage, Motherhood, Work, Self-Esteem… the list goes on. While I am not eternally optimistic, I find that my cycles of dissatisfaction dissipate quickly and that I am not prone to the grudges and frustrations I was particularly prone to before running. Two particular examples come to mind that demonstrate my own personal growth through running. The first is co-parenting a two-year-old. I find that I am rarely tired, rarely impatient, and able to be a strong support for my partner through all of the twists and turns of our daughter’s development. Something about running helps me embrace parenting with fresh eyes each day. There is this overwhelming sense that even if something is challenging, I know I can push through. The second example is a situation that happened at my work a few months ago. It was an extremely sensitive situation between two employees that I was tasked with investigating and, ultimately, implementing a resolution. Before running, the stress of this would have crushed me (because much more minor work situations often did). I would have lost sleep. I would have dreaded work. Going to work during that time was difficult, but I had the gift of time for myself at the end of the day to work through my noise and find release. Running really helped me through that time.
One last thought–now that I am 4 weeks into marathon training (the book reminds me that I am 25% of the way there!), I can only say that the mental and emotional benefits (attitude) of a consistent running practice (behavior) are growing exponentially. It’s a challenge to articulate how I feel right now, but I know I am on the precipice of being reborn into an improved version of myself. It’s this metamorphosis that develops continuously each new day that I commit to this marathon.