When embarking on a new adventure, I typically approach the situation thusly: “I got this!” My attitude toward adventures that are similar to previous adventures (i.e., my third marathon) is a bit more like this: “Ain’t no thang!” Benefits of this approach include an overwhelmingly positive outlook and joyful naiveté that actually gives me quite a bit of momentum into whatever it is I am doing. Drawbacks include finding myself at a bit of a loss when I run into unanticipated obstacles (because I didn’t anticipate any obstacles).
Two weeks into training for Marine Corps Marathon, my mindset keeps swinging between two thoughts – “Ain’t no thang!” and “Crap!” I’ll start with that first thought. This feeling is rooted in the life experiences and hard lessons learned from having run two marathons before. I know what training feels like, I know what the race feels like (at both the extreme of really awful and really great), and I know generally what the marathon experience feels like. Hard, irrefutable facts born out of lived experience. That’s how history works, right?
On the other hand, we have “Crap!” This comes from the fact that I have run two marathons before, meaning that although I have experience with marathons, I don’t have quite enough experience to know everything about them. My sample size of two has provided me with vastly different training plans and incomparable race experiences (though the overall experience, influenced by runner’s amnesia, was pretty much the same). So whenever I encounter something that adds even the slightest level of adversity to my run (i.e., a ridiculous heat index, summer thunderstorms, side cramps, big hills, little hills, that kinda tired feeling you get after the exhilaration of running wears off a few miles in, etc., etc.), I wonder why running isn’t as easy as I remember it having been in the past.
Both of those thoughts are equally valid and important to my current marathon training, but the trick is finding the balance between the two. Yes, past experience with running marathons helps me better prepare for my third marathon. No, past experience with running marathons does not mean that everything will be easy for my third marathon. This marathon is my third marathon, and that is a unique experience. Though similar, it will be entirely different from anything I have ever done before or might do again in the future.