Training for the Tjejmilen–(Sweden’s Largest All Women’s Race)
If I’m not blogging as much lately, it’s because I’m training for the Tjejmilen. “You only live in Sweden once,” a friend told me, adding that if I didn’t run in Sweden’s largest all women’s race, I’d be missing out the opportunity of a lifetime. (Somehow I believed her.) Directly translated, Tjejmilen means, “Girl Mile.” (I’m guessing that doesn’t sound as ridiculous as it does in English). The 10K with 32,000+ participants, has been going on for the last 30 years. The trail covers parts of Stockholm, including the beautiful paths of the Djurgarden. (At least I’ll have something nice to look at while I’m dying).
The only teensy, tiny sticking point in running a race is this: I’m not a runner. I bike, I walk, I do yoga; I don’t run. When I do run, I look like a wounded mallard. My feet turn out as if heading in opposite directions and my arms fly around–one fast, one slow. Nothing is synchronized. It’s not pretty, but Okay, I’m moving, one foot in front of the other (sort of). I’m as slow as a kiddie train at the carnival, (for ages 3 and under), but I’m chugging along, breathing hard, thinking, “I can.”
Having a goal to train for has taught me a couple of things. One is discipline. And two is, just because your disciplined doesn’t mean squat. It’s hard as heck to get myself out there each day. It’s like trying to convince my four-year-old whose tasted squash to eat a whole plate full. Who cares if, “it’s good for you?”
Once I do manage to get myself started down the trail, every step I take I meet with resistance. My resistance. My mind conjures up a hundred other things I could be doing. Laundry, for instance, or tweezing my eyebrows, starting a non-profit, solving world hunger (or just fixing my kids dinner), growing Wheat Grass, getting the cat declawed, (I don’t even have a cat). You see what I’m up against? But I try to put all that aside and listen to my 80’s music and cajole myself into keeping pace or how else will I be able to endure the humiliation when I’m clocked as the slowest runner in the history of Sweden to complete the Tjejmilen?
So as I run, I look at the scenery, breathe through my nose and let my thoughts float off one by one, (like they teach us to do in yoga). That lasts exactly four seconds, until I’m back again to letting my mouth hang open, gulping in huge lungful’s of air. Which brings me to my next point: running hurts, it just does, so expect it and don’t let it stop you. Knees, shins, neck, back, hips, they all cry out for attention. They’re like selfish teenagers who think they do all the work, just because one Saturday they washed the car. Thank them, but pay no special attention to any one of them. Keep your pace steady, stay hydrated and stretch—don’t let the Lactic Acid do the talking.
Up until now I believed people who ran did it because they loved it. I’m certain that’s the case for some, but I’m equally as convinced there are plenty of runner’s out there who do it because it’s the hardest thing they do. It’s challenging in a way that most things aren’t. You push yourself to the wall and then keep going, hoping against hope that time will speed up and the miles will flash by, but they don’t, so you endure.
And then, when you are by some miracle finished and still alive and sweating profusely, you have the intense satisfaction that (for now) it’s over. You can go home, bask in your adrenaline-induced euphoria and sip on your protein shake, knowing that today the battle is won. It might not have been graceful, or easy, or even fun, but you didn’t stop and by my estimation, that’s success.
For more information or to register click here.
To watch a video of the race click here.