It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.
For me, the hardest part of marathon training is often the final weeks of ramp up, before the taper. The mileage is higher, the speed work quicker, and the long runs longer. Here we are, five weeks before I toe the start line, and I am in the toughest part.
Last week’s long run shook my confidence a bit, and I started doubting my ability to not only run this marathon but do so with an effort that I could be proud of. Every time I go out, it feels like my legs are heavier and achier. I am not sure if thats because my stretching and foam rolling aren’t up to par or this mileage is higher than I’ve done in some time. All I know is that running has become a chore.
Not only am I in the hardest part of training, I also started school this week, which means classes, graduate assistantship hours, and homework. In addition to keeping my same hours at my part-time job, my life is fairly full. I actually have to schedule every hour at, including when I wake up and go to sleep, eat, and commute to and from school and work, so that I can make sure to get it all in. With all of this, running and training for the marathon has lost some of its joy, and relatedly, my runs are slower and slugger.
My long run was supposed to be 20 miles this week, but I couldn’t find the time to do it, so I ended up switching my schedule so that it is next week and did 15. My hope was to keep the pace relative to what I did long runs earlier in the training cycle and then pick it up to race pace. The first six miles felt fairly good, but then I hit a mental wall. My mind kept telling me to stop, to call it in, to give up. I stopped a few times for water, and I literally had to scream at myself to get back going. My paces fell, which only discouraged me more. Not only couldn’t I keep up the pace, I was having a hard time just completing the run.
That’s how many of my runs have felt lately, slow and excruciating. At this point, I am getting in my head about whether or not I can do this, and whether or not I want to do this. I just want it over.
Today, I ran with some people in my neighborhood. It was a cool, fall-ish morning, and we had some great conversations. I still kept tabs on my pace, wanting it to be what it isn’t, but this run contained something that wasn’t there at other times this week: joy. I actually had fun, and instead of returning home nearly in tears, there was a big smile on my face.
The truth is, marathon training is hard. It’s meant to be hard. No one trains or runs a marathon and enjoys it 100 percent of the time. You will have off days, even off weeks, but the point is to keep going. It’s about the process, and part of that process is shit. So, you keep running through it, and that makes you stronger for when you inevitably encounter shit on the race. You are prepared for it because of all those crappy, slow, hard workouts. You made it through them, and you can make it through this moment.
This wasn’t the best week of training, but I know that I must endure the tough weeks in order to truly appreciate the good ones. I keep going and going and know that it’s a new week and anything can happen.
Goals: Keeping steady mileage and working on paces.
Monday: Easy Run – 6.06 – I wasn’t planning to run this day, but really felt good about it.
Tuesday: Track Workout – 5.06 – Fartlecks of one lap on, one lap easy, two/two, three/three, two/two, one/one. Repeat. Really good. Paces got down there and I felt very strong.
Wednesday: Easy Run – 8.15 – Easy and nice through the Sculpture Park.
Thursday: Long Run – 14 + 1 mile cool down – Great for the first six or seven and then mentally fell apart. Couldn’t get the pace down like I had hoped. However, my nutrition was much better.
Saturday: Hill Repeats – 5.6 – Not sure these are going to be enough but they feel hard.
Sunday: Easy Run – 7.1 – Beautiful morning with neighborhood running group.
Next week’s goal: Stay mentally present and strong. I want to have fun on my 20-miler this week and soak up all the training as to offer.