I’ve been sober 30 years. I’m active in AA. I have been running since 2007.
Just like in AA, I have many people that are my friends that help me on this journey. I have a few people that I talk with daily, hourly, just to shake out my thoughts. But, just like in AA, I have one sponsor…and on this running journey, I have one coach…They are eerily similar.
So, here are the 12 steps of Marathon Training.
1.I admitted I was powerless over training on my own, that my life had become unmanageable. After reading countless magazines, websites & books, self help manuals, etc., I realize that my training was all over the place. On my own, I give up easily. On my own, I eat a donut and go back to bed. I was an unmanageable runner.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. At some point I realized I needed help. I looked around for that quality that I really want in a coach. Someone who can give me direction, and not buy into my manipulation. My coach sent me all kinds of stuff the week of the Nike Marathon. On his own. For nothing. When I decided I was going after a goal, he was the first guy I called.
3. Made a decision to turn my training over to the care of my coach and other runners. He has taught me how to give up Diet Coke, how to run 14 miles without walking, how to stay focused in this week’s training, not the Marathon. He helped me get long range goals, like Boston, under control. I decided to turn it over. I have decided that there are a few running gurus that I will listen to, no matter what. I found most of them on Twitter, but also continue to read older bloggers that I find helpful.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our previous running tactics. Like, okay, I use salt tabs, Gu, Gel, I use fields as restrooms sometimes, I hate podcasts (but am warming), I like feeling superior to drivers, I don’t always eat right. I judge people who talk during races. I feel envy when someone passes me. I like to flip off drivers who barely miss me by inches.
5. Admitted to my coach, to myself, and to my running partner the exact nature of my wrongs I tell the truth. I tell my running partner everything that goes on in my head. I have also accepted that I am in the 50 year age group…that I will not feel like a 20 year old, but with proper training, I can age gracefully…and can have a PR at the same time. I tell my coach all of my physical limitations. I tell him when I’ve had bad news at the doctor. My running partner gets all the therapy out of me before and after our runs.
6. Were entirely ready to have these running habits removed. No stopping, ever (well, unless nature or old age calls), no Diet Coke. I was ready, but didn’t wanna, so I had to get ready. Became willing. Became willing to not drink at every water station, to run my own race, to trust my body. I listen.
7. Humbly asked for help. My coach answered every question, even when I was going batshit crazy giving up Diet Coke, when I cried when running by my ex husband’s house and he told me to suck it up, when I started opening my mind to the fact that I stay focused on today’s training, not the finish line. I used Glenn to help me on IM, when I was having a particularly bad night…He helped me focus my dreams. I have Shannon to talk me off the ledge. I have Mike to give me direction nutritionally.
8. Made a list of all bad running habits, and was willing to let them go. I eat because I run. I love to run, so I can eat. But, the worst habit of all is that I manipulate my food based on how far I’ve run. Like, I’ll get a burger if I think I burned those calories. Not a great strategy. Working on it.
9. Made direct promises that I would run every run, not question my coach, give up bad foods, etc. This is a work in progress. Progress, not perfection.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when I blew it, promptly admitted it. Finally had to admit that sometimes I have bathroom issues. Gotta go. Sorry. I have missed very few runs, but when I do, I promptly text him and tell him why.
11. Sought to improve my contact with my coach, stay honest, log into Buckeye, which I find inane. Get out of my head. Take direction. Be a part of a team, which is NOT in my nature. I am trying to stop being so damned special.
12. I try to carry this message to other runners and to practice these principles in all my affairs. I share what I’ve learned with other people on Twitter, on blogs, with my running partner. We help each other to complete the runs. When she is ill, I ask her, “Do you want to stop?” Her answer is: “We can’t stop, we don’t have a choice.” I am a better runner when I am giving it away to others. High fiving, saying thank you to volunteers, being a good ambassador of the running community.
One day at a time. When I was first sober, my sponsor used to say, “You don’t have to stay sober for the rest of your life, just for today. Which is exactly what my coach reminds me. The finish line is a long way off, and we don’t talk about that week until it gets here…which is sort of a lie…but it works. It works in every mile I put in. When I think, “I’m almost there…”, I remember that my feet, after all, have to continue to move in this moment.
Just like sobriety. Today is the day that I don’t drink. Right now.
*Disclaimer: I don’t speak for AA, and here are the 12 Steps from the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous