For starters, this book got me so freakin’ excited to start marathon training. I mean it. If you are looking forward to any kind of endurance event this fall, I highly suggest you check out or buy a copy.
I saw Wellington speak earlier this year, and this book expands on what she sees as her journey to becoming an Ironman champ - not only physical preparation but also the conquering of inner demons, naysaying voices and lack of self-confidence. Wellington was working in international development, running and biking on the side for fitness, before she made the leap to full-time training but the path was nowhere near smooth. She grew enormously under her first coach but, after splitting with him for business reasons, struggled a little to find her way without his guidance. She biked up to Everest Base Camp and through Argentina, but took nasty spills and pushed her recovery before she was ready, leading to some disappointments in the arena.
She shares that the broad smiles she often sports in Ironman events are more of a strategy to keep her own optimism flowing (and throw off a competition) than, in the moment, an exertion dedicated to the love of the sport. But Wellington clearly loves competing on the world stage, for all that it rattles her, and acknowledges all the circumstances (financial, aptitudinal, familial) that aligned to make that happen. The tone of the book is less “I’m so lucky that I happened to be good at this” than “I work really hard at this, but also recognize that I’m lucky to toe the line.”
There’s something about reading about those high levels of training that makes me want to try harder, even within my amateur, largely uncoached sphere. (If you’re like me you may also enjoy Running With The Buffaloes, which gets into the nitty-gritty of training for a Division I men’s college running team.) When I toe the line at the New York Marathon this fall, I will have to reach way down inside myself to get to the finish line — but you train for that too, and the way you prepare yourself to do so is by keeping yourself on schedule. It’s easy to focus on the physical benefits on training, but returning to it over and over also gives you mental strength that you’ll need. (Is this tremendously obvious? Probably, but I don’t always take a lesson the first time.) Wellington stresses that every workout should have a purpose, because it all contributes to the end effort.
With that in mind I set out on a run last night with the goals of staying out for 40 minutes (longest run in a while) and wear-testing a tank top I bought for summer running. I had lifted with veggielife that morning (another topic for another post) and my quads and glutes were sore, but I wasn’t trying to run fast; I just enjoyed the rhythm and the wind that seemed to herald a forthcoming storm. (I have this thing about running ahead of storms; one night last summer I ran in a tornado warning with air you could practically swim in. I am probably unhinged.) It was a great run, and I can’t wait to notch up more and more all summer, no matter how many cloudbursts I run through or al fresco diners I sweat on.