I was reflecting on my school lessons and wondering how quickly can they be improved. There is a certain amount of growth that needs to take place before I can expect myself to be great teacher. The training period of when I’m learning and putting in effort, in order to do something impressive, can be difficult. It made me think of the time I ran half-marathons.
It all began when a few girls decided to do a fun activity together. Instead of going out to fancy restaurants, we decided to do something more challenging: we signed up for a 5k (3.1 miles) run. This would require us to train, we would get to participate in this group effort, and we would get shirts on top of that. So my training began. I couldn’t run for more than a few minutes without stopping to walk a few minutes. After a few months, however, I could run a few miles with no problems, and had a blast running in the event. There were cheerleaders cheering the runners on along the way and lots of goodies, free samples and snacks afterwards. Definitely worth it, by the way.
Then I signed up for another 5k a few months later and had a blast again. My husband was a big supporter: even he signed up and ran this one, even though he would rather do anything else other than running! My sister in law ran a half marathon that summer and loved it so much, she signed up for another one in the fall. I decided to give it a shot too. I mean, how tough would it be to run 13.1 miles?
Well, it was a lot more tough than I ever imagined. Running for 30 minutes is one thing, but training one’s body to run for about two consecutive hours is a whole different concept! I downloaded an app to train for a half marathon in three months. It was a very personalized plan where I would have one long run scheduled each week, and then short runs and other exercises throughout the week. I think the goal was to increase the distance by around 10-15% each week. My muscles were sore at first, and my joints ached. But interestingly enough, I began to enjoy it. I looked forward to the mornings where I could run out, reflect on my life, pray, and clear my head. I had about a month left before the big day, and my husband and I were going to Europe. Because I wasn’t planning on training there, I decided to increase my distances. I was able to complete the distance of 13 miles, and I felt successful. There was a just a minor annoyance: my knee started experiencing some pain (which I chose to ignore).
In Europe, there was no running. It was two weeks of exploring five countries (more posts about that later), tasting new foods, going on bus rides, and walking on foot. So much walking on foot, in fact, that I was rotating three pairs of shoes because of blisters. We walked between 5-20 miles daily. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that contributed to my training for the half marathon.
When I returned, I decided to “make up” for the running I skipped out on. I ran the distance of half marathon twice in a week. My knee was crying out in pain, and I finally got worried. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t even run a mile without wincing. So for the last week before the race, I rested.
The day of the race, I was pumped and ready to go. I bought some stretchy wrap to wrap my knees around and keep them tight. And off I went! Except that within minutes of beginning, my knee felt sharp shooting pains, and I couldn’t run. For several miles I ran a minute until I couldn’t move my legs, then walked a few minutes until the knee rested, then ran again, and so on. I cried. Then I remembered the wraps for knees which I left in the car. I texted my husband, and oh God bless him, he said he would bring them out. But he didn’t know where I would be on the route, so he began running back from the finish line. He reached me at about mile 9, I wrapped up my knees, and hobbled the remainder of the run. Took me about 3 hours. It didn’t matter that the route was incredibly beautiful: it was one of the most experiences of my life.
But, I was determined to replace a negative half-marathon memory with a positive one, so a week later I signed up for the Rock&Roll Half Marathon.
That gave me about seven months of training. I rested completely for about two months, and began biking and doing the elliptical. Running was still painful for my knee. Very slowly, I tried later, one minute of running, then two, then three, then a mile, then walk for a long while, then a mile again. If I felt anything unusual in my knee, I wouldn’t run for at least a week or two. The majority of my training this time did not consist of running. The day of this run, I started off slowly and walked a few minutes after each mile. About two-thirds in, my knee began to act up, so I stopped running and finished walking. Timing-wise, it was maybe ten minutes less than what the first half-marathon was, but the experience was incredible! I enjoyed it, I completed it, and have a medal that proves it.
The lesson from this long passage is that if there is a goal, I have to work for it. I can’t take short-cuts and attempt to condense something that requires time. It won’t result in reaching the goal appropriately. Even if though the goal was reached, was it really worth it? Yes, dedication and perseverance is important, but being realistic is crucial. For my teaching, I can’t expect to me exactly like my cooperating teacher yet. It will take years of practice and learning, I will learn as much as I can, and will put in as much effort as I can without driving myself nuts.