One #FindYourStrong Marathon, Two Voices: Trust Issues

When in doubt, roll it out
When in doubt, roll it out


As they prepare for the Wineglass Marathon on October 4 using the AMR #FindYourStrong Marathon Challenge, Heather and Marianne, two long-distance BRFs taking on their first marathon, are sharing their experiences--and miles--weekly. Find all their posts here

[Heather started a new job last week so we agreed that I’d handle the writing for today. She reports her training is going well.]

In full disclosure, this is my—Marianne's—second attempt at a post this week. I had a one all loaded up about putting schedules and rules into my life to make this a successful semester for myself and my students at Seton Hall. I’m sure it was fine and I’ll probably get to some of that material another week. But it did not feel right. And when I was discussing starting this AMR writing gig with my friend Sarah, she advised that the best blogging is when people are real. The other post probably didn’t feel right because it made it sound like I was doing better than I am.

Truth is, I’m struggling. In a whole bunch of places.

1. First, and foremost are in my runs. My body feels tired. It didn’t care that my mileage for all of week 13 totaled that of the week 12 long run (19 miles). I had to drag myself out of the house all four days. I ended each run feeling pretty good but have been wiped by the end of the day. Conversation among the #FYS Challengers tells me I’m not alone in this. Although that is comforting, I am ready to be done with the constant willpower battle.

This week's schedule


2. The new semester has started. Gone are the open times of sabbatical when I felt like I was doing an adequate job balancing research, family, and friends. This summer I added back in a portion of my committee work (e.g., meetings) and this week, I throw in my two classes including a new prep of graduate statistics. My to-do list is intimidating me already.

Mom's Cubby

3. I miss my mom. So much. Although it was great to finally do the run to the cemetery where my mom is housed that I’d missed in June, it was hardly a substitute for a live visit.

4. Over the last few months, Joyce, my daughter, and I have transitioned out of the parish where I’ve been for 9 years and into a new one.

5. All of this has led to some slipping in my eating habits, which makes the other pieces worse. Thankfully, this one is the easiest to fix and I’m getting closer to ease than struggle here.

early motherhood

6. I’ve made it pretty far into training without having much of the “can I really do it?” fear, but it is starting to hit despite claiming during the podcast that I thought everything would be fine on race day. And I know why. When I drill down under the training plan, under the schedules for work, under the Weight Watchers planning/tracking and Beck-thought-changing, under the belief that my mom is still keeping an eye on us, there’s a bit of a problematic thought that is leading to a struggle:

I don’t trust my body.

When I was at my heaviest, I think I just ignored it and was grateful my mind was enough to become a professor.

When I started running, I assumed I wouldn’t be very good at it.

But when I got pregnant, that was game ON.

I’d been waiting 33 years to put these birthing hips to good use. My OB commented at our first appointment that I had an “excellent pelvis for natural childbirth.” I hired a doula, hit up prenatal yoga classes, read Ina May, watched Business of Being Born, got angry, got ready.

And ended up with a C-section.

You can say whatever you want to me about how this doesn’t really matter and Joyce is amazing. But it still feels to me like I made it to mile 25 and then got in a car and was driven across the finish line. And unlike a marathon where I could try again next year, there’s not going to be a second chance.

To be fair, it was the right decision (and my doula agreed). I’d been having 24/7 contractions at home (well at home except for the time I went to the hospital after the first day, when the contractions had been 2 minutes apart for an hour, only to find I was still closed) for almost a week. I was two weeks post-date. My OB had pulled the Pitocin and let me sleep to see if my body would progress and it didn’t. It was the smart and safe decision no matter how disappointing.

So as I struggle with the calendar closing in on the race, the marathon has turned less hypothetical and more real. I know that childbirth has many more variables out of my control than the race will. I know that the presence to put up with days of contractions before getting interventions is a trait that will serve me well on the course. I know that the privilege of parenting is something not to be taken for granted as I have watched friends struggle through years of infertility and loss and pain. I know I need to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

But despite knowing all this, if you have any tips for having faith in your body, I’m all ears. (Legs, too.)

16 responses to “One #FindYourStrong Marathon, Two Voices: Trust Issues

  1. Marianne – thank you for your honesty. I am training for the Wineglass Marathon too (my first) and am feeling the same right now. Trying to schedule the long runs, especially, into an already busy schedule with my 9 year old (I’m a single mom with not much help from my ex husband) and my own career and volunteer activities has become overwhelming. It feels like running isn’t as much fun anymore. It’s now “work”. One more thing to check off on my to-do list today. It’s nice to hear I’m not alone. I’m looking forward to the marathon and know this next month is going to be the toughest. I know the miles are important; I just don’t want to lose the fun of running in the process.

  2. What a beautiful and vulnerable post. I understand completely where you are. While I had the births I’d hoped to have, my body changed so much during pregnancy that it still seems foreign to me in many ways. We struggled with nursing for so long and I too felt that I could no longer trust my body to “do what it’s supposed to do.” It’s a tough thing to deal with, but I feel like running has helped me so much in processing these issues. My hope is that your race will help you process too!

  3. Marianne you made me cry. You don’t need to trust your body, you need to trust your heart. Your heart will get you across the finish line even if you have to walk just like your heart got you through having a baby even if it wasn’t the route you planned. Will you tell people you ran a marathon or will you tell them the details of how many times you had to walk or pee or refuel? Will you tell people how old your daughter is or will you recount the story of her birth and the disappointment? As I get older I’m learning it’s all about the big picture. It doesn’t matter HOW you get to the finish line or HOW you had your daughter it matters that you got there and she’s healthy. I am the biggest self doubter out there and this marathon challenge has been one huge exercise after another in believing in myself. After all these weeks I thought I was training my body when really I was training my heart. Just get yourself to the start line because after that, it’s impossible to fail.

  4. My mantra for my marathon was ” aspire to inspire, before you expire” from what I read hear you are doing just that- and an all natural childbirth is not all that it’s cracked up to be either! Every step is an inspiration, just keep stepping.

  5. Believe in yourself and your mental strength! Look at, and think of all the major milestones you have already accomplished and know that this too, will be one well earned (and hopefully a great memory to think back to in the future). You can!

  6. During my first marathon training I had a “mental meltdown ” about 4 weeks out. I told my trainer I was going to switch to the half, he replied “we’ve already done the half, we’re doing the full” that response caused the tears to flow fast and furious right there in the weight pit of my gym. My poor trainer had to let me use his shirt as a hanky! He reassured me so I will reassure you this is totally normal. You are pushing your body to new limits, new is scary, and the fear is trying to make you retreat. Don’t do it! Take a rest day, do a short run in the pool, get a pedicure do something to get off the training hamster wheel.

  7. Beautifully written. The birth story could have been mine. Just remember your body is not a lemon (its what i kept reminding myself while working out and when having my next daughter) and you can do this. Just imagine your daughter seeing you finish your race and cheering you on!

  8. I had a similar birth story to yours. Although I did a half marathon, not a full, the worry about my body not letting me finish was the same. My advice is simple: Just as you took it one contraction at a time, take your race one footfall at a time. Control what you have control over and let the rest go. In my experience, completing my race helped heal my broken heart about how my births went. I hope it will do the same for you.

  9. There’s a reason we often compare child birth and running a marathon. You can try all you want to to tip the odds in your favor. I also hired a doula and saw “Business of Being Born” and the whole deal. I did everything “right” (in quotes, because the “right” thing, I truly believe, is giving birthing mothers real choices and these were my choices). I got *lucky* and had the birth I wanted. You did everything “right” and then you had bad luck and ended up with the birth you didn’t want, but of course, the baby you very much did. It is ok, as I bet you know, to mourn the loss of what wasn’t, but try not to blame yourself for bad luck.
    The marathon is the same. You are stacking the odds in your favor. You have a good training plan that you are actually following. You’ve got a support system at least here and hopefully in real life as well. You are doing the work to get the race you want. Race day will still bring good luck or bad luck. It’s the nature of the marathon that you train for months and then you might get 50 degrees and overcast or you might get 80 degrees and blazing sun. You will do the best you can with whatever the day brings. You *already did this* on the day your daughter was born. You planned ahead, you worked hard, and you dealt with the surprising adversity that day brought (also, I hope, the surprising joy). For good or for ill, at the end of the marathon, you get a medal and a beer and a t-shirt and no baby. But, you are already more ready than you know to finish this race.

  10. Trust the plan. If you put in the work, your body will be ready come race day. Does that guarantee nothing will go wrong or that it will be an amazing race? No – running makes no promises. But you can and will get through. And you said it yourself – the beauty of the marathon is that if one does not go as planned, there are opportunities to do it again. You got this!

  11. You are not alone. Just before the cancelled NYC 2102 (To have been my first), a local running legend jumped in with me for a while as I was running a local Upstate half as my long run. He asked me how I was doing. I told him that right about then, I hate running. He told me I was doing it right. That stuck with me. I was fearful during the taper. And, sadly, at the time, I was relieved it was cancelled. (But that relief was for a lot of reasons, not just not trusting my body). You’re normal. And, I think you’ll be fine (Plus, there are a fair number of variables out of your control, similar to childbirth. It’s not wise to be married to a birth or race plan….be flexible. It will still be YOUR memory)

  12. I think(don’t know, because a marathon is still in the future for me) that all these feelings are normal and are caused by the exhaustion of marathon training. The taper will make you crazy next, but the thoughts and doubts will subside when you get rested. We’re all rooting for you!

  13. I’ve often felt the same way, but hang in there. When you have days you don’t trust your body, try trusting the training plan. You should just keep doing what you’re doing.I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  14. Self-doubt is my middle name (& I am one of those challengers right now.)
    As my first marathon approached, I couldn’t believe I would be able to do it. My last 20-miler I ‘ran’ 21, that extra mile helped
    SO much, my brain believed. Next, I added up all the miles I had run in training. When I saw that number it was ingrained in me I WOULD do it. I woke race morning with s migraine, they had taken so much time from me I wasn’t going to let it take this. I finished, and so will you. Cliché, but trust in the training, you WILL get there.

  15. Wow…..isn’t it amazing what we hold on to??? Here you are training to a marathon, and it brings to the surface that you are still holding on to having to have a C-sxn….the “I’m not good enough” thing that we do to ourselves but would never do to a friend or sister or pretty much any other woman…. You will have good weeks and bad weeks, but as long as you keep going, you will do this through 26.2, and please let the other stuff go.

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