Learning to suffer

Reflection on how I went from quitting in the middle of training for a marathon to suffering every weekend through Ironman training.

I was running along, less than halfway through my run, and the suffering became too much. I was chaffing and bored and probably tired. I asked a man by the side of the road to use his cell phone and called my husband to come pick me up. It was that day that I ended my training for what would have been my first marathon.

That was in 2010, but as I get into longer training days edging closer to my next race, I have been recalling that first foray into long-distance sport and wondering why my 2010 self so easily quit my training, while my 2018 self is now happily training for my 3rd Ironman. Currently, each weekend day is filled with a bike ride or run that is uncomfortable. On my long runs I am tired and chaffed by the end, and at the end of my bike rides (or sometimes only halfway through) I want to quit and feel immensely uncomfortable (but finish anyway).

So what’s the difference? I do not regret my decision in 2010. I didn’t know as much then. I recall the running skirt I was wearing the day I quit. I still have it but would never run in it again because I know it doesn’t work well for running for my body. I have both found better clothing to wear now with less chaffing, and I use things like Body Glide in the areas I know are likely to chafe. Also, now that I have more experience with distance, I know that while it may feel uncomfortable now, it will go away with time, often immediately. I have learned more about how to prevent injury for me personally, and what type of pain could lead to an injury that could take me out of training for awhile vs. the type of pain that will go away quickly. Enduring some pain once in awhile, and getting through the tough spots reminds me regularly that some pain in life is okay, and I will feel better afterward than I did before.