Monday, October 1, 2012

Marathon Monday: Mind games

I am training for the Columbus Marathon and following a schedule based on the "Train Like A Mother" finish it plan. These posts document my training. 

The week, in running:

Tuesday: 5 miles, easy (+stroller)
Wednesday: 2.6 miles, easy
Friday: 3 miles, easy (+stroller for half)
Saturday: Fort4Fitness 4-mile race
Sunday: 7.12 miles, long run (if you can call it that)

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It was a Sunday like any other, or a Sunday like any other in the past 16 weeks. I set out for a long run, a relatively "short" run of 16 miles. I had my Swedish fish in my Spibelt, a key, Denali and a plan. I was going to run 8 miles, loop home to drop off the dog and pick up Mark+Miles for 4 more before dropping them off to do the last 4 solo.

I was still tired and moody from Saturday's race when I set off but I chalked it up to the overwhelming feeling I have at the start of every long run. I knew that I needed to push aside the thoughts of "I don't want to do this" and "Why did I sign up for this?" and focus on what I was doing right then, right now. I needed to be in the moment.

But as I focused on the present, I felt some tightness in my ankle. The ligaments or tendons were irritated. Or I wanted them to feel irritated. I told myself that it was no doubt from the previous day's race, and it would shake out. I told my mind to shut up and settle in.

And I was right. The ankle tightness loosened up and it felt fine after a couple miles but it seemed that not long after, my right hip started to whine. At first, it was just an awareness - like, "Hey, lady. I'm right here. Remember me?" "Yeah, I remember you. I ran too fast on you yesterday," I replied. I was hoping it would shake out as well or that by diverting my attention that I would forget it was there but as I got closer to the 8-mile drop-off/pick-up, the hip became more angry and less whiny and I started to feel like I was hobbling. 

An internal debate began to rage: Could I ... should I ... would I finish the long run on this hip? I knew I would be in a better mood all day if I hit my mileage goal. However, I felt bad now - how was the hip going to feel in 10 miles. I could do the 4 with Mark and go from there as 12 is definitely better than 8. But I didn't want to do any more damage, assuming there was damage to start. Then again, finishing my 16-mile run would put me at 150 miles for the month, a goal I targeted last week when I realized how the mileage was stacking up.

One thought, though, seemed to trump them all: I just didn't want to do it. So I didn't. I ended the run, defeated, at 7.12 miles.

For weeks now, I've been feeling it. "It" being the mental exhaustion of marathon training. I no longer look forward to my runs and my life no longer feels like my own. Every night, I look at the training plan and try to figure out what I'll run, when I'll run it and who I run it with. The mornings revolve around getting ready for and completing the runs in a very specified time table in an effort to disrupt as few lives as possible. Then there's the weekend, in which the long run comes before everything. From the menu to scheduling to post-run activities, everything has to revolve around me and what the great minds behind "Train Like a Mother" have told me I should do.

I feel like I'm living in a pit 26.2 miles deep and the only way to get out is to cross the line in Columbus just 20 days from now. I sometimes regret my decision to sign up for the race, and I look forward to not doing a marathon for a very long time, if ever again.

Don't get me wrong - I have found training to be rewarding, and I think it's been important to me, as a person, to devote some energy to accomplishing something outside of motherhood. It's been good, too, that training hasn't been perfect, and I've learned that I can fall - hard, sometimes - and still pick myself back up.

But as Mark, Miles and I walked to the park yesterday afternoon, on legs that still had miles to go after a run cut short, I caught a glimpse of what life will be like. Shorter runs, a day full of energy to be spent and quality family time.

A life about us.


  1. yes yes YES.

    THIS is exactly why I've been telling everyone who will listen to me that I will NOT be marathon training next year. I will run, yes. I will race too. But I won't give in to the "what if I do this differently - will I be able to do it better?"

    I need a break, and so does my family.

  2. This is why TRAINING for a marathon is far more difficult than actually RACING a marathon. It's so easy to get caught up in the minutia of training that you loose sight of why you signed up in the first place. Now is the perfect time for you to step back and relax for a week. You've put in the base and now coming to an end. A short break from running before your last long run might help pull things together for you and it you won't sacrifice your performance.

    I'm doing something similar. I've had some nagging knee pain and after my 30 mile run 8 days ago, I've taken the last week off to let it recover. I'll probably do an easy 3 miles on Thursday, then get back to my long runs this weekend.

    Good luck with rounding out your training and kick butt in 20 days!

  3. This is why I scaled back to only following long run training plans and making up my midweek runs as I wanted. I got too stuck in the numbers and feeling like I had to make runs or it was all shot and it was SO draining and consuming and took out the fun. Maybe something worth trying your next go round?

    That being said, I've been really impressed by your committment to your training schedule. I think you're going to see big pay-off with it on marathon day!

  4. I was just saying the exact same thing to my husband last night! After this marathon, I'm out of the game for a very long time. It's just too much time away from my men and I don't like it at all. Every long run is daunting and it's more of a job than fun. I can't wait to get back to just halves and running can be fun again. Good call on stopping the long run. When I trained for my 1st marathon, I got hurt a month out and only got in one 18 miler. I still made it through the marathon and finished in just over 4:30.

  5. Hang in there Kimberly! You got this! I agree with James, maybe take it easy this week and step back a little. After this marathon you can relax even more and have those Saturdays and Sundays you are talking about...except you will have accomplished what you have longed to do and thats run a marathon. I too have been very impressed with your commitment to your training schedule and yes, you are going to see the big pay-off on marathon day!

  6. Sounds like you are getting ready to taper and you're getting burnt out. Like everyone else said, maybe scale back on some of the mid-week runs or don't get so wrapped up in paces and numbers. You will be fine and will kick ass on race day.

  7. Girl, drink a glass of wine and relax! You've trained pretty damn well and everyone says it's better to undertrained than overtrain. Then butch up and kill it ;)