Hope you guys had a fabulous weekend!
First things first: many, many thanks to all of you for your helpful, supportive comments on my last post! I have taken in everything you guys said, and I feel a lot better about scaling back now. And that is why I PROMISE I will be better about keeping up with my weekly workout posts — not only to share my progress, but to help myself stay accountable and be able to see right here in black and white when I may be pushing myself too hard.
As silly as it sounds, I think I really needed to hear that I wasn’t going to somehow lose my ability to run just because I’m taking a little bit of a break. I was convinced that if I miss a training run here and there or don’t follow a training plan to a T, then that means I won’t be “prepared” for race day. And I guess I really am afraid of toeing the starting line — at this upcoming marathon, or ANY future race — and being undertrained. Running is so important to me, and I never want to do anything that could potentially hurt myself.
That being said, beginning this week I am taking your advice to RELAX. Because right now, I really do think I am hurting myself — mentally speaking, anyway.
Last week, I struggled through two 3-mile runs. And I do mean struggled. I know 3 miles should feel like a walk in the park to me now, but I just COULD. NOT. DO. IT. I hated every minute of it. Then I had already made the decision to squeeze in one final long run before the marathon, which I did this Saturday, and let me tell you — if that run wasn’t a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.
Mon., Feb. 3: Rest
Tue., Feb. 4: Taekwondo class
Wed., Feb. 5: 3 miles
Thur., Feb. 6: 3 miles
Fri., Feb. 7: Taekwondo class
Sat., Feb. 8: 19 miles
Sun., Feb. 9: Thai Kickboxing class
Weekly mileage: 25 miles
As previously discussed, after running the Dopey Challenge I had decided to (try) to follow Todd’s marathon plan as closely as possible to prepare for our next big race: Rock N’ Roll USA in Washington, DC. I had already told him that I would do this weekend’s scheduled 19-miler with him, and then after all of your advice last week, I made the executive decision that this would be my last long training run for quite some time.
And I am so, SO glad. Because it was truly horrendous. It was by far one of my worst runs ever, and that is including my 17-miler for Dopey that I ran while sick and felt like I wanted to die. It’s hard to put into words just how bad it was, honestly…but I guess I’ll give it a shot.
We typically break up our long runs into three sections, stopping twice for bathroom/fuel/water in between — and for the first 7 miles, I felt okay. We were chatting and moving along at a decent pace, and I didn’t feel too bad at all.
But after our first break, things took a turn for the worse. Somewhere around mile 10, I started to have some sort of mental breakdown…and I feel as though my body followed suit. I felt like I literally had run out of steam, and I could not seem to put one foot in front of the other. My mind was racing with thoughts of just how much longer I had to go, and how I couldn’t do it, and how much I hated running, and why was I doing this to myself, and what is wrong with me, and I’ll never be able to run this marathon, and I never want to run again, and on and on and on.
And then it felt like my body started to shut down on me. I couldn’t get control of my breathing…I was panicking about just how miserable I was and beating myself up over not being stronger than this. My right foot started to hurt, and then (probably because I was trying to overcompensate), my left hamstring completely tightened up. The chill was also really starting to get to me; I hated sucking in that cold, icy air and feeling the wind whipping on my face, and since I kept having to slow down or stop to walk or stretch my legs out, my heart rate kept dropping and the chill would spread all over me.
I could not calm myself down. And, on top of it all, I felt like a horrible person for ruining the run for Todd and making him worry about me.
I somehow made it to our second break and I know I could have stopped right then and there. I could have jumped into a delightfully HOT shower and put my feet up and watched TV while he finished the run. (I know Todd wanted me to stop, but he knows better than to try to tell me what to do…I’m as stubborn as they come, haha). Truth be told, YES, I wanted to throw in the towel so, so badly. In hindsight, I probably should have.
But I couldn’t let myself quit. I had to finish. So we went out again for the final 6 miles, and that was when both of my legs pretty much decided to stop working. It felt like every muscle was seizing up and I just could not make them move forward. I’m not exaggerating at all when I tell you that my legs were starting to feel the way they felt in the last 10K of my marathon last month.
I ended up run/walking the majority of the final 2 miles. That is something I have never done on a training run. But I didn’t care. I kept telling Todd to go ahead of me when I stopped to walk so as to not hinder his run, and then he’d run in circles to come back for me or I’d slowly catch up. Those last 6 miles dragged on forever.
Somehow, magically, my legs didn’t feel all that bad when we stopped, and they were only a little sore that day and the day after — nothing out of the ordinary. Which is how I know it’s the mental side of things that’s getting to me now.
In any case, I have never been so happy to be done with something in my life. (This is the fakest smile EVER, in case you were wondering).
After my disastrous 19-miler this weekend, my reflections on this week’s workouts include a really big, important realization.
I am so, so DONE with training plans. At least for a little while. I can’t take it anymore.
There is no way I will even be attempting the final 20-miler on Todd’s training plan. I hate to feel like I’m “quitting,” but at the same time, I know it’s best for me. I can’t take the anxiety and the pressure and the disappointment that have taken over my runs ever since I got back from running Dopey.
One good thing that came out of this week is that while I scale back on running, I can hopefully be more consistent with making it to my martial arts classes. Since I’ve had such tunnel vision for Dopey, and then this upcoming Rock n’ Roll marathon, I’ve been skipping classes left and right and have basically been on hiatus…so it felt really good to be back. It has been months and months since I earned my green belt in Taekwondo, and I’d like to move on to purple sometime this century.
I was also happy to make it to my Thai kickboxing class this weekend. It’s definitely a TOUGH workout, so I still reap the benefits of those wonderful endorphins afterwards…and I don’t know, there’s something about beating the crap out of things that really helps release some of my pent-up stress.
1.) No more training plans. I will run if and when I choose, and for as many miles as I see fit. I will not so much as look at any training plan. I’ve been obsessing about logging miles and crossing workouts off a training plan since I came back from running the Dumbo Double Dare in Disneyland last September, and quite frankly, enough is enough!
2.) No more gadgets. I think it’s best if my Garmin hibernates for a little while. If I feel inclined to run, then I will try a few runs sans watch, which lately has done nothing but make me feel bad about myself for not being able to hit my “normal” pace or make me feel overwhelmed by how many miles I have left.
3.) No more forcing myself to run. If I go out for a run and I’m not feeling it, then I will come home. Too bad, so sad, I’ll try again the next day. It’s not that serious and there’s no need to force anything…it has only made me feel worse.
4.) No more skipping martial arts classes. I need them right now. Running became my entire life and I let everything else fall by the wayside. It’s no wonder I’m burnt out! I also used to cycle at least once a week, so as the weather gets warmer (read: if it EVER stops freakin’ snowing) my plan is to dust that bad boy off and take it out for a spin one of these days.
5.) No more comparing myself to other runners. I will stop obsessing over what various running websites or Facebook comments or magazine articles have to say about how many miles I’m “supposed” to run in the weeks before a marathon or what my target pace “should” be for a particular workout. If that works for other runners, great. But I need to figure out what works for me right now in the hopes of getting my running mojo back as soon as humanly possible.
6.) No more letting running take over all of my spare time. Since I had been training for Dopey and Todd has been training for the DC marathon, our weekends have basically consisted of dreadfully long runs followed by a whole lot of sitting around because neither of us has the energy to do anything (the craptastic weather has NOT helped, either). I think we’re both feeling a little on edge lately, so this weekend we went out to eat for the first time in I don’t know how long and we also paid a visit to the Liberty Science Center — because I can’t remember the last time we planned some sort of “just for fun” activity — and I felt so much better afterwards. I think we both need to be better about balancing running with the rest of our lives, and hopefully that’s something we can work on together.
7.) No more feeling guilty. This is probably going to be the toughest one for me. I’m sort of a Type A personality (duh), and I like structure, and I like to do things “right.” So feeling guilty about not being perfect pretty much goes with the territory. But, of course, I am the farthest thing from perfect, and while it might be ideal to continue following a consistent training plan or log X number of miles a week or wait a little longer before beginning my official taper, then that’s just too bad and I’m not going to beat myself up or let myself feel guilty if I have to take a break and focus on what’s best for me right now.
Bottom line? I know I can run this marathon. I’m not going to let this weekend’s run get me down because I KNOW I am ready. We both are! So there’s no need to run myself ragged…now it’s time to focus on doing what I need to do to get myself to the starting line in one piece.
So, these are my plans until we take on the marathon on March 15th. In the meantime, I will be back to Walt Disney World this month for a long weekend to run the Glass Slipper Challenge, which might be just what I need right now — there is nothing more fun than running Disney, and I think I need that reminder of how much I used to enjoy this.
The Princess Half Marathon is a really special race for me because it was my very first half marathon, so I’m hoping that being back for the second time one year later and having the opportunity to reflect on everything I’ve done since then will help get me back into the right mindset. After all, I DID used to run for FUN…right?!
After the marathon, I will reassess from there. I may need some time off completely, or possibly just do a few relaxed weekly runs, or sign up for some shorter “just for fun” races, or whatever…but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get myself out of this funk.
Have you ever had to take a break from running?
Have you ever had to adjust a training plan?
How do you balance running with the rest of your life?