One of the great things about running is that there is always something to learn. Even better is that if the lesson doesn’t stick with you the first time, there will inevitably be a future moment in which the lesson repeats itself. For example, the lesson that running involves many, many more muscles than just your legs.
When I set out to train for my first marathon, I thought that marathon training only required running. Running according to a schedule of increasingly farther distances, of course, but only running. As I began to edge into the realm of “this is the farthest I’ve ever run” on each long run, I noticed that it wasn’t only my legs that got tired by the end of the run. Actually, my legs weren’t even the area of my body that hurt the most by the end of a run. What I seemed to struggle with more was holding my arms up over such a long distance. Seriously? Arms? To run a marathon?? So I began lifting weights, but the smallest weights I could find with minimum work necessary to ensure my arms were up to the challenge of increasing mileage.
Fast forward a few years and weights are now a pretty regular part of my weekly regimen. In fact, I feel pretty confident in saying strength work has become such a regular part of my routine that I’m basically on the same level as superheroes. Of course I can’t make a claim like that without backing it up, right?
I’ve been easing my way out of hibernation the past few weeks, so returning to my regular workouts has involved a degree of humility as I find myself back to basics to build my base. Then there are times when I woefully underestimate the effort required and a workout completely slays me. This happened recently after a weekend of fairly intense arm work. I woke up on Monday feeling the effects of multiple workouts in every last muscle group of my body, and especially those muscle groups that I was entirely unaware of up until that morning. Thank goodness it was a scheduled rest day. Tuesday I was back to running – 3 little miles, a perfectly doable distance. Early in the run, I started to feel the soreness creeping back into my arms. Of course I ignored it, 3 miles would go by quickly enough. The soreness soon turned into a persistent cry for attention, with ever increasing urgency. By the end of the run, my arms were burning, and I could barely make my fingers function the way they need to in order to stop my Garmin at the end. Again, arms?? I thought I had muscles! Apparently not.
I guess I still have some more work to do. Fortunately, running will continue to teach me the same lessons over and over again until they finally sink in.