"I started running again. Short and slow, then longer or harder, a little step in the right direction."
Quitting is never an option
Running is the perfect metaphor for life. Sometimes you struggle and it’s hard. Sometimes you feel like you are flying. Flying through the woods on a bright summer day or flying on snowy winter trails. It’s the ultimate feeling of freedom. Just breathing and running. Just being.
When I was in my teens and early 20s I struggled with compartment syndrome in both my legs. Running was not an option. After many years and three surgeries I vowed that some day I was going to be a runner.
I started slowly and I remember the day I ran 2 miles for the first time. I was so proud! I added miles and kept going. I was smitten. My first race was a 21 km trail run. I had never run that far and was extremely nervous. My goal was to have a good experience and not be completely worn at the finish line. I started slow, oh so slow, terrified not to be able to finish. I steadied my pace and worked. The miles flew by and suddenly I realized I was near the finish line. I picked up my pace and flew for the line. As I passed it a man came up to me and asked, why aren’t you tired? I had saved up strength for too long and didn’t release my potential. It was a great learning experience for me.
As the years went by I increased my milage and focus on running. In 2012 I ran my first half marathon in Trondheim. My goal was to finish in under 2 hours. I felt right away that this was my day. My feet were flying, my pace was steady and I could just go on and on. I finished in 1.44, over 15 minutes below my target. Three weeks later I ran my first marathon in 3.52.
In the year that followed I wanted even more. More miles and more races. I pushed, but I pushed too far. I was diagnosed with overtraining syndrome. My heart was racing and my legs felt like they didn’t work at all. I lost my sense of direction. I was forced to take a step back and reconsider.
In my daily life I work and own a fitness center. My job is to help people maintain an active life. I love to help them and see them evolve and fulfill their dreams. A lot of the mental techniques I use to help members at the gym, I now had to use on myself. I had to be patient and rebuild step by step.
For a whole year I did not compete or enter any race. I focused on my job and family and tried to regain strength and energy. I started running again. Short and slow, then longer or harder, a little step in the right direction. Quitting was never an option.
In 2015 I was better and allowed myself to enter races again. A half marathon in January. Marathon in Paris in April. Neither of them went very well. In June I decided to start the trail run which had been my first race a few years earlier. Even though I ran with a broken toe, I did quite well and felt that all the small steps I had taken were getting me back in the game! In August I ran a cross country race in Bronx, New York and finished third in my age group. It felt like a victory.
The big finale of the year was the Singapore Marathon in December. For a Norwegian this race is a tremendous challenge. The heat and humidity makes this a different kind of 42K struggle. Especially because it is in the middle of winter for me. My goal was to get to the finish line in my own pace and time. I used a great deal of time on visualization in my preparations for the marathon, more than I had done for any race before.
Because of the heat the race literally starts in the middle of the night. I had to get up before 3 am to be able to eat and drink enough before racing. As I was getting to the starting point I was already compartmentalizing the race. The first kilometer is always about the crowd fanning out and about finding the right pace. The right pace in 30 degrees Celsius is slower than normal pace. Compartmentalizing for me during a marathon means a splitting of the distance in, first a half marathon, then in 5Ks, then 3Ks. That way the race is shortened and not so overwhelming. The work I had spent on visualization beforehand was very helpful. I followed my plan. At the finish line the feeling of accomplishment was the greatest I have ever experienced. Not because the time was good, but because I had pushed through all the hardship and overcome all the struggles of the past years.
By Carina Øglænd
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