It’s an ominous title, but I deemed it appropriate.
Three months ago, one of my athletes voiced how unhappy she was with her current fitness level and overall loathing for exercise. She was unmotivated and had no purpose. Sound familiar?
We spoke in November, right after I had just completed my first marathon, which absolutely humbled me to my core. When I say humbled, I mean I walked — actually, more like hobbled — from mile 17 to the finish. So, as she was voicing her lack of vigor for everything exercise related, I thought it would be a bright idea to tell her that she needs to train for something. When I said “something,” I meant a sprint triathlon, a 5K mud run, or even a 5K run, something not so extreme.
Flash forward two days later, and I receive a text message with a screenshot of a Surf City Marathon receipt. Just so you know, this woman was not a runner by any means. Upon hearing the good news (enter sarcasm), I called and told her I’d run with her. November 15, 2022, was the start of her training, and we agreed to try running together three times a week.
We ran together as often as we could, depending on work schedules, sometimes running alone. Our race date was February 5, 2023, which gave her precisely 12 weeks to train for her marathon. Her training never faltered and increased significantly for the 12 weeks leading up to the race. She wasn’t just running, though; she was attending spin classes two to three times a week and CrossFit one to two times a week. She started becoming a different kind of person, like someone who liked to exercise and looked forward to it. The running was not enough.
This is the great part. This is where the magic started happening.
I remember her telling me around week 10, “Thank you for making me do this. I actually love running now.” A sentence I thought would never come out of her mouth. Three weeks prior, we had gone on her longest run to date, which was 15 miles. The run broke her, and if I am being honest, it got me too. I thought it was great to see her go through the experience of learning to love the process. Week 10 was the week she ran her furthest, 20 miles. She then proceeded to tell me it was kind of easy. She did mention she took a four-hour nap later that day.
Flash forward to race day. I admit, I was nervous. I thought out of the two of us, she would make the run, and I would be the one to bonk out. (For the non-runners, bonking out means cramping out, like in my previous marathon experience.) The race starts, and we stay side by side throughout the entire four hours and 51 minutes. She finished her first marathon in less than five hours without walking.
Back to the title of this month’s column. The training leading up to the marathon turned her into a running monster who now wants to travel around the world and run marathons. I think it’s one of the best examples of seeing someone fall in love with something during the process.
The deadline created two things for her: accountability and purpose, which I’ve written about in my previous columns. Watching her go through the training the last 12 weeks was the “process,” and I imagine if you asked what she enjoyed more — the marathon or the training — she would undoubtedly say the training. That is what’s so great about signing up for “something,” whatever that thing is — the time leading up to said “thing” is where all the magic happens. It’s where people turn into little marathon monsters, little gym monsters, little triathlon monsters, little “whatever” monsters.
So what are you waiting for? Become a little monster. spt