As a distance runner, there may come a moment when you just aren’t impressed with yourself anymore. You forget that you’re an ultramarathoner. That marathon you ran last month, which was excruciating at the time, seems like it was easy now that you think about it. A ten, twelve, fourteen mile training run sounds like nothing. “Only” training for a half marathon? What a relief!
Remember when you first started running? I do. It was only sixteen months ago. I could barely survive running for sixty seconds at a time. One mile seemed an impossible pipe dream. How would I ever work up to 26.2 and check “marathon” off my bucket list? And then somehow I did it in a year and suddenly I’m sitting here all unimpressed.
How exactly does this happen? How do we discount the distance that seemed completely ludicrous just the other day? Maybe it’s a self-esteem issue. “If I can do it, anyone can.” While this statement is usually thrown around to encourage others, it’s actually pretty self-deprecating when you think about it. Why not you? Why can’t you be special? Looking at all you’ve done, why don’t you consider yourself to be amazing?
The answer is simple: you are amazing. Not everyone can do what you do. Not just the distance, but the discipline. I think the discipline is even harder than the distance. The planning, the social sacrifice, the loss of sleep – all of these things happen when training for distance running. After a period of time, it becomes habit. It’s an everyday, commonplace thing. It becomes your life. And somehow, it becomes less special.
I have to remind myself that there’s no such thing as “just” a four mile run. There aren’t any junk miles. My 5k PR isn’t slow. Waking up at 4am on summer weekends to get my run in before the sun becomes oppressive is serious dedication. Running five marathons in nine months is badass, and it doesn’t just happen. It’s something to be earned.
So you see, even though I have to remind myself of it, I’m kind of a big deal. And so are you.