I knew what I was getting into when I began this training right? I started the training weeks with one goal in mind: to run a marathon in under 3:15. Seemed do-able, yes. Physically I believed (and still do) that I can run this time, yet it was always the mental aspects I knew I was going to struggle with.
I am five weeks out from the Cleveland Marathon on May 16. It is a Sunday race, something that I just like about the weekend and thought I would throw in. I am so excited to run and so excited to be done.
Five weeks out, and I just finished an easy 4-mile shake out run Monday morning. And, it was not that easy.
Last week was a rough one, both in running and just in life.
Monday was an off day, which I usually take after the long run on Sunday. Then, Tuesday came around….Instead of the 8-10 miles I was planning on doing, I left the house for a night at Barnes and Noble. The weather was decent, not great, but I got home and the thought of putting my running shoes on was unfathomable.
Honestly, the thought of just changing my work clothes into running clothes, I just couldn’t do it.
It wasn’t even the feeling that once you get started on the run, it would be okay. I knew my body needed to NOT RUN.
Looking back, I wish instead of running, I went to swim or bike, but again the feeling that I just needed to do something other than work out or work was too strong to overcome.
I grabbed Ken, my bf, and we headed to the best place ever, Barnes and Noble. We stopped by Lemon Tree, a Mediterranean fast food restaurant, to grab some dinner, then settled into B&N. With a chai tea and a dark chocolate, hazelnut granola bar for dessert I spent the evening finishing up my article for my freelance gig and getting talked into buying a new laptop.
Tuesday ended with a new MAC Book Air, a brand new journal, so that I could begin bullet journaling and a happy mood.
The rest of the week was spent indoors on the stupid treadmill while the outside tried to decide if it was snowing, raining, or sunny.
I ended the week with a cold, easy 6 miles in the trails in preparation of a long 20-miler on Sunday, the 20 miler that turned to just run for two hours on the treadmill, to just run 10.5 miles and then finish the workout with 30 minutes on the bike adding another 10 miles. Hey, I got in in 20 miles right?
Sunday night, I was done. I was painfully icing my ankle, which has been bothering me and feeling like I got hit by a car and waiting to get hit again.
So when this week started, which it is now Tuesday, so I may be premature in this, I wanted to get a fresh start.
I climbed out of bed Monday morning to run an easy 4 miles in the beautiful 46-degree weather! It was not the best run, since my legs still felt pretty heavy, but I was just happy to be outside.
Tuesday was another outdoor run, but still a bit chilly. Ended with 9 miles, through the local bike trail. Again, legs did not feel 100 percent fresh and peppy, but the mindset was back.
The mindset of what I was doing was back, what I was trying to accomplish, and how important my goals were back.
And, once I realized: marathon training is hard. It is hard to always be up for a run when the weather sucks and the last thing you want to do is put your shoes on. It is hard to get in 50-60 miles with a 40-hour a week job, freelance work, a weekend gig at the local running store, and future work on its way. It is hard to out 50-60 miles on your body, particularly on an ankle that was once cut up in surgery less than two years ago.
Yet, you have to admit it is hard and move on. You have to admit to yourself why it is hard and try to overcome each obstacle in a smart way. For me, I have to acknowledge my limits with my ankle, and realize that weeks of 50-60 miles may not be the best thing for me.
But, you have to admit and realize that you train for a marathon, or any race, because it is why we do it: because it is hard. It’s that saying from “A League of their Own.”
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t, then everybody would do it.”
Why do we put our bodies into this pain, this fatigue? For most it is the outcome: the goal time, the act of finishing a race, etc.
But what I realized a long time ago while in swimming, I like the pain of training. I like being sore and tired and famished from a hard workout, because I like knowing that I am pushing my body to it limit. It is the mental side where the hardness is too much for me. I have never been a good racer. I used to make myself sick before big meets and would end up choking and crying afterwards.
With running, the nerves were there but never as bad because I believed it was the long-distance ultra thing that allowed me to tell myself, “All this is, is running. Running and eating. No one watching you race 7 other people in a pool. This was just me.”
This is what helped me place third in my first 100, and first in my last two races. The pressure was never there.
But, then the HUFF 50k race came in December and the pressure was back. Back with tough competition, a nagging foot injury, horribly freezing weather.
The ankle made me stop physically, but mentally the race beat me. It was back in high school and I was swimming next to some freshman and watching her feet flutter away from me.
That feeling of not living up to expectations, which were usually mine, was back and was not ready for it.
I am really trying to keep these thoughts from entering my mind, now with five weeks to go until another huge race.
Yes, the competition aspect of the race wont be there, but the time pressure will. I am going for a time and many people know it. Some say, ‘oh that will be easy,’ and after a good interval or long run workout, I believe them. But after other days, like every run from last week, those doubts come rushing back in.
This is normal right? It is right to doubt oneself sometimes, because that is what makes training hard. It is the fact that the months of working out beyond anything else is, knowing there will be obstacles and will be triumphs, is what makes the hard become softer as time goes on, and you, the runner, much stronger with each step.