Training for stuff…

This last week was my rest week, and wow, did I need it way more than I expected. My legs were so sore I got nervous walking down stairs for a couple of days. I was ok for the most part, but I was just so tired! But after all that, I’m planning out my teeny tiny “race season” for next year now, and I’m actually really excited about it. The race was kind of stressful, but I enjoyed training for it.

I really didn’t think training for a marathon would be such a good experience for me given how much I hate running, but I actually got a lot more out of it than the research I needed.1 I feel like everyone who tries this comes away with the same insight, and yet somehow it seems like everyone who has that insight must be lying: training for something is a serious motivator. Knowing there’s an event coming and that you basically have to do it because you said you would and you paid your entry and you keep getting emails from the race coordinators…that’s a pretty big incentive to stay active, even if you understand the fallacy of sunk costs.2

Except, see, staying active wasn’t really my problem, so I didn’t think I would really get much out of this. Time-wise, it didn’t actually increase the amount that I’m active, but it very dramatically changed the intensity and character of my active time. For a long time, I’ve been a lazy lunch swimmer/drowner, and a reluctant but consistent runner. I love Zumba, I walk everywhere, I hike like a monster, I would kayak to the moon if possible, etc. I was really, really active, and I was definitely in better shape than I had originally estimated.

But, there’s something weirdly different about training for a race. Like, it took a while for my brain to “get it” but once I figured out what it feels like to actually win something, that became a real motivator. I ran harder than I would have if I was running for fun. I focused on improving form, with a specific end in mind. I genuinely used to think that I was the kind of person who just enjoyed “being active,” and that’s definitely true, but embracing a more competitive angle to my personality and admitting that I really like to win, both against myself and others, has been kind of a nice change.

Anyway, I’ll probably take another week of “just for fun” exercise because of Thanksgiving and all, but I’m actually pretty excited for the next go round.

  1. If you haven’t been following along quite so avidly, I wrote a YA book recently that started out as a book about a marathon…until I discovered that a marathon isn’t as hard as I thought it was. Stakes were raised.
  2. Or at least the pop culture, one sentence summary of this fairly complex issue. Because on a deeper level, it actually often does make sense to go to a concert you paid money for even if you’d rather not, because your present state isn’t an absolute yes or no.