Runner Brain: I always forget, but my body remembers

I just ran my 11th marathon at the end of August, and this one honestly almost killed me. It’s taken me quite a while to recover—how did it become December already? like seriously!

You’d think I’d have this whole healthy living, marathon training thing mastered by now. But no matter how many marathons I run, my brain always forgets:

TRAINING

  • Getting motivated to jump back into training is soooooo difficult. Do I really need to run THREE days a week? My lungs suck! Where is my inhaler? My legs feel like lead. My body sucks! Where’s that Tiger Balm?
  • I dread hitting the “long” training runs. Can I really complete a half marathon? It’s been so long; what if I seriously injure myself? But then….I’m totally dying BUT I did it. I just ran a half marathon! I’m halfway to marathon day. Wahoo!
  • Mile 15 sucks every single time. I hate mile 15. I loathe mile 15. Something miles 13, 14, and 16 get lumped into the misery fest as well. I don’t know WHY, but mile 15 is the bane of my existence.

20-Mile Training Run in the dead of summer nearly killed us! Mike was not having it lol

  • My 20-miler training run, my longest run before the marathon, feels just like marathon day. I never sleep well the night before, I wake up nauseous, I grumble that I’m the stupidest person in the world. I could totally just do a Netflix marathon on the couch. Is it really that much different? But then, the actual run itself is usually quite enjoyable, and when I hit 20 miles, I feel 100% marathon ready! The excitement finally kicks back in!

The Day Before

The night before the Athens Authentic Marathon, 2019!
  • I always eat all the food and drink all the water to make sure that my body has the strength to run for hours on end. Usually, I drink a glass of wine or two at night to calm my nerves…if only I remembered nothing can calm marathon nerves.
  • I usually text all my friends and loved ones reminding them I am running a marathon TOMORROW! Really, I’m thinking, If I die tomorrow, I should at least let people know I love them, right?
  • I never sleep the night before; my nerves just get the best of me! What if I don’t wake up in time??? Despite the six alarms I’ve set…maybe I should set another one—there is no such thing as too many alarms! Then every hour during the night, my eyes pop open. Is it time to wake up? Did I miss my alarms?

RACE DAY

Mike and I on the bus in Athens at 5 a.m., heading to the start line, 2019
  • I get so nauseous the morning of the marathon. I can barely eat anything, not even a cracker, for fear of throwing up. Something about waking up and being forced to move while it’s still dark out throws my system out of whack. Every time, I wonder: Why do I do this to myself? I am so miserable right now. Who thought running for hours on end was a good idea? I just want to crawl into bed and sleep for a hundred years. But I still keep a smile on my face for the camera lol
  • I have to pee a million times before the start of the race. Why are these lines so long? I’ll never make it to the starting line on time. Then after I walk out of the porte-potty: Maybe I should just get in line again. I know I’ll have to pee again in two minutes. But I NEVER have to pee once I start running the race…maybe once, if I think really hard about it. And once the race is over, forget it. I don’t have to pee for at least 30 minutes. I chalk it up to pre-race nerves.
  • I always shoot out of the gate at top speed. Runners always warn against this as it uses up energy too quickly. But for me, I love the rush I feel at the beginning when I’m surrounded by all the other runners. I can usually keep this faster pace up for about eight to ten miles, which feels worth it! I never plan on doing this, which makes it even more exciting. Although I slow down as the miles add up, that initial burst of energy helps my overall time.
  • I love the support and motivation from the other runners and bystanders! It reminds me that humanity still exists. I feel like a part of something big! A part of a community that can conquer the world—even if only for a few hours.
No matter how many races I run, seeing that FINISH LINE is the best feeling ever
  • At mile 23, I whoop for joy! Only a 5k left! I can run 3 miles in my SLEEP! By mile 23.5, I will NEVER finish this race. I’m never doing this again. This is absolute bull. I’m walking. Forget this! But then….mile 24.5…What is wrong with you, Sera! You have les than 2 miles! You better run and never stop running until you cross that finish line!

When I see that finish line come into view, I feel such a sense of pride! I start running faster, faster, so fast my right foot always twinges! I scream with a new energy as I leap across the finish line, which reminds me I had way more in me than I gave myself credit for! I am so happy that I finished the race—and that I’m alive!—and that all my training was for this very moment. Where’s ALL the food? And ALL the beer? Also, When is the next marathon? I’m so psyched to do this again!

Post Marathon

  • I always wonder WHY I complained and grumbled and procrastinated through the whole training season! I feel better mentally and physically than I did before I started training! I never want to get out of shape again. I remember why I love running long distance so much! When is the next marathon? I MUST sign up ASAP before I lose my motivation!
I might have a Flo Lime addiction! Can’t get enough of this color!

What I’ve learned about this cyclical pattern of my brain forgetting all the worst—and the best!—moments of training for a marathon is that my body always remembers what to do. So, even when my brain tells me there is no way I can get through training or run another 26.2 miles all at once, my body moves me forward. My body reminds me that it was built for this. That I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for. I’ve learned that it’s my fear that pops up and makes me worry that I will fail. Fear that says I will fail. Fear that says I will not accomplish what I set out to do. Fear that says I am simply not good enough, so what is the use of trying.

But, that fear is lying. I’m grateful that my mind forgets all the things that make marathons challenging. And I’m grateful that my mind also forgets all the joyful, proud moments as well. Because those moments allow me to experience each marathon anew.

I’ve managed to apply marathon training to the rest of my life as well. When I’m writing and get stuck or feel like I’ll never finish my book, I remind myself that writing is a marathon, not a sprint. And I remind myself that just like with running, writing requires setting aside time to get the miles in.

When I’m going through a tough time in my personal relationships, I remind myself that the tough times are just like mile 15. Yeah, it might really suck for a while, but it won’t last forever. I will get through it, albeit slowly and painfully.

I run much colder than Mike; so grateful for my IllumiNITE Inspire Pullover that kept me warm in the early morning

When I feel overwhelmed with all the work on my plate or an overly packed schedule, I remind myself that if I take one step at a time, I will eventually get it done.

Next Post Teaser

Stay tuned for a recap of my 2-day adventure hiking the Grand Canyon from the South rim to the North…and beyond!

If you’re looking for gifts this holiday season for yourself or others, check out the styles we’re wearing in the photos—AND MORE!—at IllumiNITE.com to keep the runners in your life fashionable and safe with reflective athletic wear. Use my discount code RunBrightly15 for 15% off your order.

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