I am currently training for my fourth marathon. Once again, I will be attempting to run the Richmond Marathon in November. Last year, I attempted to run this marathon but after my [redacted] diagnosis, that ended up not happening. My head was definitely not in the headspace that it needs to be in order to finish a marathon.
Something definitely feels different this time around, and I know exactly why – my weekly appointments with a personal trainer. On Monday, the trainer took me to the downstairs gym with “the big boys” and had me back-squat 85 lbs and leg press 115 (or around there). I actually have some upper body strength, and my legs (especially my quads) are looking massive! Remember when obtaining a thigh gap was all the rage? I’m doing the opposite right now – closing up that gap.
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it definitely paints a picture in the changes I am currently seeing. I can bench press around 40 lbs, and given that I could barely do 5 lb weights over a year ago, that is big for me.
I stayed away from strength training, especially the upper body, because I could never really adjust to my chest post-mastectomy. I’d feel the tiniest bit of pulling and go “NOPE, not doing it.” Since I have been working with a trainer, I have gotten over that fear and have been pushing through it.
I joked to my trainer that I should be an Instagram Un-influencer. Instead of being a perfectly sculpted gym goddess wearing expertly coordinated Lulelemon, I’m an oddly shaped, middle aged women who wears mis-matched clothes to the gym or looks like a soccer mom dropping her kiddos off at the game while I am running. (“Holy Quads batman, this unassuming, bespectacled lady is back-squatting like she knows what she is doing!”)
Ever since my surgery in 2017, I haven’t really made serious progress as a runner. I’ve just kind of plateaued. Granted, I did track sporadically and I certainly never did any toolbox runs on a consistent basis. When I ran the Pittsburgh marathon, I just ran 4 days a week and did the personal training. Other than that, I didn’t mix anything up or incorporate any speed work. Surprisingly, I ran Pittsburgh in 5:28, and I was injured when I ran that. Not bad.
My goal for my fourth marathon is to get back as close as I can to the 5 hour mark. I doubt that I will hit sub-5 since that’d involve shaving 29 minutes in 6 months. A lot of stars would have to align for me to get there. I’ll try, obviously, but I am not going to kill myself to reach it. I’ve been working with a friend who is a Certified Running Coach, and I am trusting her and the plan.
She gives me certain pace goals to try and hit. So far, I haven’t quite hit, well, any of them. I’m going to keep trying and that’s going to be approach for this marathon: just try and do my best.
Whenever the trainer Anthony has me try something new or a lot more difficult than I am accustomed to, I tell him, “I don’t know if I can, but I will try.” There have been times where I tried and absolutely could not do it (i.e., pushups). I tried, though. That’s how I am going to approach all the runs Sara has planned for me.
If I fail, I fail. At least I will have always given it a shot. To me, it’s great to have goals because it gives you something to work toward, but if I don’t reach my goal but I did my best, I will be okay. The fun is in trying and getting to run with my friends. Maybe by the time the marathon rolls around, all the strength training and speed work will create a mean, lean, glasses-wearing running machine.
That’s right. I’m a damn sports star.