I love me a good challenge. Which is why I love running so much - because it's so challenging. There's always another level to push yourself toward. Er. Toward which to push yourself. Ack. Technically, one is not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but sometimes the "correct" wording just sounds so snooty. I do not have a winter home in the South of France, and I don't own a collection of expensive artwork, so therefore I shall end sentences with prepositions if I so choose. And I would like to point out that Grammar Girl agrees with me. So now let us continue our discussion of challenges, shall we?
With running (and fitness in general) there is always the opportunity to challenge oneself. And beating a challenge is the ultimate reward for all that hard work. Whether it's finishing a marathon, or breaking a 4-minute mile, or being able to do one push-up, or 100 push-ups, or qualifying for Boston, or *insert goal here*, when the goal is finally met, the feeling of pride and accomplishment is like nothing else. And if you happen to get a shiny medal for it, even better! (Have I mentioned that I'm a sucker for a cool medal? I have? *ahem* Well, it probably won't be the last time... Just sayin')
So what are my personal challenges? Well, as you may recall, I joined the Runner's World Challenge Team not too long ago. The opportunity to take advantage of their pre- and post-race support (specifically, the private bathrooms), special training tools and online forums, and the possibility of meeting Bart Yasso, made it impossible to pass up. Is it really a "challenge" if I was already going to run this marathon anyway? Well, no. And yes. You see, yesterday I received my official Runner's World Challenge gear (see photo below). Including my official Runner's World Challenge technical shirt. Now I'm representing a team. So in a way, it adds to the challenge I had already placed on myself, because Runner's World wants and expects me to do well. And, because if I'm going to use their private bathrooms, the least I can do is finish the darn marathon.
But that's not the only challenge I have going for this marathon. Because just running a marathon isn't enough of a challenge *insert crazed laughter here*, I have also signed up for the Pump N Run Challenge. The Pump N What, you ask? Allow me to direct you here for a good explanation. Basically, it is an upper body strength challenge that can earn one a reduction in one's marathon run time. Not officially of course. In other words, I don't think the Boston Athletic Association will allow me to qualify for their famous marathon if my actual marathon run time is 5:15, but I bust out enough bench presses to get a Net Run Time of 3:45. But I am extremely curious as to just how much "time" I can shave off my marathon time.
For my age and gender class, I will have to bench press 60% of my body weight, which is really quite heavy (not because I'm particularly heavy, but because that's more weight than I would typically use for bench press - that's a weight that requires a spotter). So I'm training for the Pump N Run Challenge by lifting heavy weights (for upper body) and doing straight-legged push-ups as a substitute for heavy bench press. What is my goal for the Pump N Run Challenge? Well, I'd like to get at least a Bronze Medal (10 reps). I think I'm going to have to work pretty hard to get there, though. Good thing I still have over a month to train!
I have plenty of other challenges to look forward to after this marathon as well: Continuing my Steamboat Classic streak (this year will make the 5th year in a row I've run it). Finishing my first ever Warrior Dash. Raising money for the Organization for Autism Research as I train for the Chicago Marathon. Running a sub-5:00 marathon in Chicago (this one has me quakin' in my LunarGlides). Running a new 5k PR. Running a new half-marathon PR. I may not meet all of these challenges - they wouldn't be very challenging if they were all easily attainable.
Now, if anyone else has any other challenges to throw at me, I'm all ears. I don't accept every challenge that comes my way, especially if it's not realistic (i.e., don't challenge me to qualify for Boston 'cuz it ain't gonna happen). But I do like the opportunity to push myself. Especially if there's a cool medal involved.
Peace. Love. Train.