TORONTO September 25th 2014. Digital Champion Christa Davidson says, “Running is not simply something I do, it is what makes me who I am.” As a mother to her two children Tucker and Tilley, and a wife to her husband Mike, Christa knows that being the best for her family, the best version of herself, is sustained by the kilometres she runs. Christa is a recovering alcoholic of three and a half years and she has used running as a way to stay sober; instead of drinking she runs. On her particularly challenging days, she just runs farther. STWM 2014 will be Christa’s third marathon in a year and she is excited to share her training progress with the #STWM community and is passionate about inspiring others to achieve their running goals. Connect with Christa on Twitter @christadavidson and on her blog.
What The Marathon Has Taught Me. By Christa Davidson
Be dedicated and disciplined and
Work hard, but take your time.
Move ahead but be patient.
On October 19, I will run my third marathon. I will crowd into a new and faster paced corral and stand amongst other antsy, yet prepared marathon runners. This will be my second Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and I am different this time. I have changed as a runner. The lessons of the marathon are undeniable. Like many others, I have learned some of my lessons through trial and error and others through stubborn failure.
When I embraced and accepted what the training was trying to tell me, things started to fall into place. Marathon training is a ‘thing’ like any other. I became a confident long distance runner when I buried my fear of ‘far’. It is not something to be feared. It is something to respect, but not to fear. It is simply a span of ground measured in kilometers, meters, footfalls and breaths; nothing more. If you make more than this out of it you are missing out on a lot of enjoyment. Narrow your scope and focus on the moment you are in; the ground you are covering, not what lies ahead. Thinking too far down the road can be overwhelming.
Target one run at a time. Don’t get caught up in thinking too far ahead. I don’t look past today. Don’t push it. Let it happen and be patient while it does. Do your best work each time you lace up but forget about what’s to come and be present to what is happening. Pay attention to your form, your footfalls and your breathing. No daydreaming!
Run one kilometer at a time or one lap at a time. Put your blinders on and focus. To help with this, I have stopped listening to music on most of my runs. I don’t want to be distracted. I don’t want my thoughts to wander. I want to be present and hear only the feedback my body is giving me. It has taken me awhile to get here but the moment I arrived I stopped fretting about reaching my goals and have been able to let my development happen naturally run by run.
Set your goals and be prepared to be flexible with your plans. Even road trips that have well thought out and precisely mapped routes will have bumps. This past week I was stricken down by a cold that was sufferable enough that I diagnosed it as ‘the man cold’. I missed almost a week of training. Last year at this time I would have been upset by this because of the fear of the marathon and of not being ready. This year I accepted the down time knowing that I have worked hard to this point and I am fit.
Working hard and achieving goals is something that I like to do, but not at the expense of being unkind to myself. I can accept bumps in the road this time around. I will admit I spend a short amount of time going over what I could do differently next time and then let it roll. If I sense I am spending too much time and energy on a workout that’s done and over with I redirect my focus, accept my performance for what it was and move on. Accept that there will be times when things don’t go as planned. So what!
I have learned that it doesn’t matter if you run fast or slow or if you run 5k or 50k, the most direct route to improving and reaching your goals is through consistency. I have wasted valuable training time prior to this season being inconsistent. Some of my reasons for inconsistency were unavoidable such as injury but there were other reasons that I missed runs with excuses with no merit. At the time I was not fully committed to my goals and maybe that was because of fear. What I have seen in the absence of fear is improvement in my strength, endurance and pace times and not because I have worked like a maniac; simply because I have been consistent. This training cycle I have run lower kilometers than I did last year while training for this race, and I have still improved because I have done the regular work needed. I haven’t run myself into the ground, I have just simply run. Do the work; get results.
Look for these lessons when you run. There is still plenty of time to hurry up and be patient, accepting and consistent. In my experience, these are the lessons that will free you from fear and let you move toward the success in running that you have targeted for yourself.
I wish each and every one of you a great run on October 19th. As always if you see me, please say hello and please reach out on social media if you want to connect.