One #FindYourStrong Marathon, Two Voices: All the World’s a Run

triathlon sign

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

With 11 weeks behind us, and the first of two 20-mile long runs up this week, we're both hitting the point where marathon training is not just taking up running time but also reframing the way we view the world. This week, we're covering the ways that various types of runs have found a parallel in—or given us perspective on—the rest of life.

And we assume that if you're reading a running blog, you don't wish we'd just shut up about running already.


Easy Runs: Usually 3-7 miles, often optional, meant to be run at a comfortable pace.


These feel like sex to me. Specifically, 10-years-of-marriage sex. Often feels like it takes longer to get ready for than to actually complete. Comfortable, and you know your route like the back of your hand. Often uninspiring to schedule, but you always have a good time once you get going.


I very often have one to four people along on these runs so easy runs correlate nicely with going into the office; I have fantastic colleagues at Seton Hall. Though the combination of teaching/research/service can feel like too much at mid-semester, at least I get to do it in good company.

Long Runs: 8-20 miles, usually the most important workout of the week.


I got to read Marianne's bits before writing mine, and was totally annoyed that she stole my idea for long runs. I probably should have made up something else. But the thing is, they are absolutely a metaphor for parenting. Over the course of a long stretch you may experience moments of elation, devastation, euphoria, weeping, and "whose stupid idea was this, anyway?" As the lovely Glennon Doyle Melton wrote so eloquently in one of my favorite blog posts EVER IN THE WORLD, everyone will tell you how AMAZING running/parenting is. But let's all admit that what we really love is the feeling we get when it's done (for the day). Also, both long runs and parenting are better when you're commiserating with your girlfriends. And both prominently feature poop.


These runs have helped me to become a more patient parent especially when it's 6am and there's crying about waffle crispness level/the fact that it is a school day/why the pool isn't open yet/the convention of society requiring pants and socks/etc. I've learned it's best just to settle in and know eventually it will end. Or it will at least eventually be time for more coffee (my Gu of parenting).

Just before talking tempo for the podcast. Thanks to Gimlet West for giving me studio time.
Marianne, just before talking tempo for the podcast. Thanks to Gimlet West for giving studio time.

Tempo Runs: Repetitions of 75-85% effort for 1-3 miles, with warm up and cool down and sometimes recovery between the miles.


I'm a big procrastinator, so high effort for a finite amount of time feels very comfortable to me. It's basically every big project I've ever worked on.


As an empirical psychologist, publishing in academic journals is considered desirable and crucial. It's also tiring and unpleasant. Your work, often the result of years of data collection, is sent to 2-3 people who get to evaluate it and make a recommendation about whether it is worth publishing. More often than not, the news is negative and sometimes with little effort to do so nicely. (I'm looking at you anonymous reviewers who use the words like "silly" and "haphazard.") During a tempo run, the miles can feel like one long grumpy reviewer. But unlike the cycle of revising, they at least have an end point. And I know I won't get a stronger CV (the academic's resume)  or pace if I don't push it. So it is good for me even if I don't like it.

Heather hamming it up on New Day Cleveland
Heather hamming it up on New Day Cleveland

Speedwork: Repetitions for time at harder than tempo pace but at short intervals. Also includes warm up and cool down.


Speedwork might be the best analogy of my life in general. Take earlier this week when I was featured on a local news segment for work. (Click here if you want me to teach you all about pickling onions.) I am a natural ham and love doing this kind of thing. But I was in a tizzy all morning, racing around and getting ready, then racing up to the studio, then concentrating on being high-energy on-air. Then, because I was all full of adrenaline, I kept up the pace and raced back to my workplace, shoveled food in my face while having a meeting, then raced to yet another meeting (I was manic and running on fumes at this point)...then basically collapsed when it was over. My M.O. is always to go full-tilt until I run out of steam. I'm still working on timing the intervals in real life.


My approach to cleaning. (Sorry, Rob!)


Cross Training: Fitness pursuits that are not running


All that stuff that I hate but do because I know it's important. Like flossing and showering.


For me, these are the things in life that I like but forget because they aren't getting enough attention. This includes catching up with old friends, reading something besides the book club selection, and scheduling date nights.

Races: Where all this other stuff theoretically pays off


Earlier this year, I raced a 5k for the first time - really went for it - and shocked myself when I ended up with a time I never in a million years thought I could hit and took home first place in my age group.

Similarly, a few weeks ago I decided to throw my hat in the ring for a job I thought might be out of my reach. And after a whirlwind week and a half, I accepted the position of Director of Marketing & PR for Akron Symphony. All of this training is reinforcing that I'm stronger than I think I am, body, mind, and spirit.


For me, racing means risking disappointment, which is very similar to my theme for the year to "seek rejection." (The reason for this theme a long story involving the last 3 things my mom told me before dying which I have distilled down to 1. love, 2. forgive, and 3. don't let fear get in the way.) That theme has served me well - 1. Heather and I ended up blogging for AMR, 2.  I attended a two day workshop at The Beck Institute, 3.  I had written enough that I had enough material to get 4 manuscripts rejected and 4. I've started setting some boundaries on my time.)

As for the road kind of race, it's been over a year and a half since I "raced" instead of ran a timed/ranked event, but my eye is on setting a new PR for my 5k at the Super Santa 5k in December.


Joyce's baptism gift from Heather. A fine reminder for living.
Joyce's baptism gift from Heather. A fine reminder for living.

Rest: If we have to tell you, perhaps you should put some in your schedule.

It's also what both of us have to look forward to as we head to the Poconos this week for a big family vacation, along with our other BFF (and badass mother lifter) Gina.

What correlations do you see between the different styles of runs and the rest of your life?

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