Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The 15 Mile Comfort Zone

I am officially half way through Columbus Marathon training! Even though this is my third round of marathon training, each one has been different. There is different training's, different seasons and most importantly different mindsets.

Oh man!

During my first round of marathon training, pre blogging, I wanted to do everything by the book. I started in January for a May marathon in Pittsburgh. I was pushing myself so hard in the first half of training that once I got to my longer runs I had zero interest in doing them. I ran FIVE 15 mile training runs, and one 20 miler. I never did a variety of distances. I knew I could run 15 miles and had to really push myself for that 20, which was four weeks before the race.

The result, I got injured right around the time of that 20 miler. My foot was so swollen and bruised, I was afraid to tell anyone how bad the pain was in fears I wouldn't be able to run the marathon I had been dreaming of completing. When I finished, I went to the doctor and was given two options. Option one, stop running for a few weeks – or – option two, go in a boot for a few weeks.

There was a smile, but there was TONS of pain behind it.

Ummmmmmmm I’ll take option one!

So, when training for the Goofy Challenge started, I was convinced I would listen to my body more. If something didn't feel right, I wouldn't push it. I really didn't follow a plan as much as I tried to hit specific long run distances. The weather was pretty awful this winter, and I was doing the best I could.

Made it to 15 miles again, then 18, and that was it. That was one month before Disney and I actually felt way more confident than I did before Pittsburgh.

Marathon #2 felt much better than #1!

Does this seem weird to anyone else? It seems weird to me.

When I signed up for Columbus I made sure I found a plan that would force me to grow as a runner. It would force me to not really worry about time or pace, but help me get over that 15 mile hump.

That’s right folks, last Sunday I ran 16 miles, and that was a first for me!

Yay! I did it!!!

It sucked. Every single second, but you know what, I didn't cut the workout short. I finished it, and that is a big deal!

This mental game that happens during training can be more crippling than an actual workout. I got rained on three times during those 16 miles. For a mile each at mile three, mile six and mile nine. I started to believe that someone was playing a joke on me.

But I kept going.

I started to feel awful, like want to puke awful. After a few coughing fits and some Honey Stinger chews, the feeling passed.

I kept going.

The final straw was a little after mile 14. I heard a wicked crack coming from my hip and it got me out of rhythm. I ended up walking. Not for long, about 45 seconds or so. I took a swig of my water and shook out my leg.

You guessed it, I kept going.

When I finished, I had a mental breakdown. Why on earth do I put myself through this? I cannot believe that I am putting myself through this for a whole six months! I have got to be crazy! I am not getting any better, my pace is slowing! I really should just stick to half marathons.

After texting my husband and telling him I was thinking about dropping down to the half for NOLA, he gave me the greatest response he could have.

“Oh shut up and get over it.”

He was right, and in that moment, I realized how huge running those 16 miles was for my confidence. Sure, I have done a 18 and 20 mile run plus two marathons, but running a new distance is always the scariest when you do it the first time.

Luckily, my long runs leading up to Columbus are all “familiar” territory.

Week 8: 14 miles
Week 9: 18 miles
Week 10: Lehigh Valley Half Marathon 13.1 miles
Week 11: 20 miles
Week 12: 20 miles
Week 13: Akron Relay/Great Race (about 11 miles)
Week 14: 15 miles
Week 15: 10 miles
Week 16: 26.2 miles – Race Day

Our comfort zone is something that needs to be broken through to become better at anything. Little did I know, those 16 miles helped me shatter my comfort zone. I feel so much more confident in myself, even if I don’t like the numbers that come back at me. At least I am doing it, at least I am growing.


  1. I'm so proud of you!!! And what an awesome husband you have- he obviously knows just what to say to help you snap out of your slump! Go you and go Joe!! :-)

    PS- I have a present for you!!! Only a few more weeks!!

  2. Steffany Smith RubelAugust 19, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    I'm so excited to see you guys and our fun filled weekend!!!

  3. Great post, Steff, and way to break out of that comfort zone! You are going to be SOOOO ready for this race!

  4. You are doing great, and you should feel confident, you keep coming back and back for more. Better runs are on the horizon - they go in cycles. Get ready for the upswing!

  5. Steffany Smith RubelAugust 20, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    I am so ready for that upswing! I'm hoping after my half in two weeks I will feel slightly more confident!

  6. Steffany Smith RubelAugust 20, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    Thanks Tara! I'm growing and that's the most important part!