Following The Lonely Road

“Up and down that lonely road of faith, I have been there, unprepared for the storms and the tides that rise … ” — Lonely Road of Faith by Kid Rock

When the legs are ready to stop, and the body doesn’t want to take one more step, a long distance runner has a choice: give up and give in to the voice to stop, or keep pushing on.

Deep into marathon training, runners of all ages and abilities can start to have doubts. Other times, perhaps at the starting line or miles into the race, it’s easy to begin having doubts. At that point, it’s time to trust your training.

Nearly 8 years ago, in the middle of my first marathon, I found myself buoyed by the journey getting myself ready for Grandma’s Marathon. Deep into the race, I found myself feeling strong — despite fighting off cramping legs muscles — by focusing on far I had come on the path to becoming a marathoner. My journey down the lonely road of faith meant I had no choice by to trust the training.

Recently, I found myself facing another lonely road — and a stretch of 10 days of lousy runs in which my legs simply didn’t want to go. They ached like so many times before when I had pushed myself to the brink of exhaustion while prepping for races in New York City and Utah. Like those times, I resisted the urge to rest and kept thinking that once again I plan to be at the start of the New York City Marathon this November.

Perhaps I’m too stubborn to quit. Or a deeply held belief that I could tough it out when most would simply cave to the physical and mental burden.

It’s no surprise that a favorite motto that’s helped me through some tough training runs comes from Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville 100: “You’re tougher than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can.” Ironically, I quoted that motto in a post nearly 6 years ago, in advance of a predicted hot Fargo Marathon.

Far removed from the lonely road stretching months of dark and cold training runs, that classic reminder could come in pretty handy in what could be another warm race day.