“THIS WASN’T MEANT TO BE EASY.”
So, yesterday I did one of my long runs for my marathon training preparation. It was 18.5 miles long. In 28-32 degrees. After I had already had 5 hours of classes and clients. It did not go well.
I had major anxiety about this run. It was SO NOT IDEAL. Thursdays I’m usually EXHAUSTED. In fact, I normally try to have Thursday as my “off day” and take a NAP in between appointments. This week, Wednesday I wasn’t feeling well and had to actually CANCEL some of my appointments! So, it was super debatable if I should have even tried to do this long run. With the weather this weekend, kids sports schedules, I didn’t have much choice.
I reminded myself of SO MUCH TRUTH in getting myself out the door:
*it is GOOD to sometimes do hard workouts ON ALREADY TIRED LEGS!
*we can’t always expect to do our training at our most ideal times (especially when this is not our full time job!)
*I so often hear people who sign up for only flat races, only summer races, only their favorite types of things, and I Reminded myself that this was my opportunity to live out what I think is critical to our growth- that we don’t always do the things that are our favorites, easier for us, etc. This builds character and this reminded me that I Just needed to dig deep and do the work.
I started the run and knew in the first few miles I wasn’t feeling awesome- my legs were already heavy, it was cold, I had 14,000 lbs of clothes on so I felt like a zombie trying to run anyway, but I kept a patient attitude and settled into a calm warm up. I was aiming to do an easy 4 miles for warming up with no expectations, just relax and try to not freeze. Then I was to begin going strong. My beginning of strong didn’t feel very strong, still so sluggish, but I cut myself some slack knowing it was uphill, windy at that point and cold. Stayed mentally calm. Started feeling like I could push a bit better when on the flat W and OD and a bit more shielded on those miles from the wind. I started to feel BETTER, but also knew it was kind of being “forced.” Mentally I was still holding so much anxiety, like “can I really do this on a Thursday after the full week and after the day I’ve already had.” I was trying to be “in the mile I was in” but it again, was just all very forced and I was holding this tight mental frame of mind. I could already feel about mile 7-8 that my right calf and hip were feeling the work and the pressure and pushing. It kept building, but I tried to hang on. I decided to turn around ½ mile earlier than I had intended to. I didn’t want to end up so far from home in case I needed to cut something a little shorter for the health of my hip, but that being said, I also didn’t really want to do the same distance long run that I had done the week before. That would be, in my opinion, basically wearing my body down to achieve what I had already done. I was trying to up my distance by completing the next mile in my build. If I didn’t get to my goal of 18.5, it would be a bigger jump to my next long run goal of 20. When I turned around, I let myself back off my pace and regroup and earn myself a bit of positive mojo to see if I could hop back in and maintain a “strong” run up until mile 17, as was my initial plan. After 17, I had intended to take it easy and just GET to the 18.5 end. This easy mile did help and I started strong again, however it just fizzled after 1.5 more miles of this. I was frustrated, but also realizing, this is just the truth for me today. You can only force so much. I can only WANT to run strong so much, I cannot will my physical body to something it is just too fatigued for. I realized I had to just use what I had left and spread that out through to the end. I realized that it wasn’t going to be my IDEAL workout, but nonetheless, this training session could still be an important stepping stone both physically and mentally.
Mile 15 I took a 1 min walk, then ran the rest of the mile. Mile 16 did the same thing which got me at least ALIVE to the 17 mile mark. At that point, I had a decision to make. Since I had turned around ½ mile early, my route back to my house would have had me finish my run 1 mile short of what my plan was… again, not progressing distance past my last long run. Which wouldn’t be the end of the world. HOWEVER, I didn’t think my hip (or calf) was at risk, so, I decided to suck it up, HUMBLE MYSELF, because at this point, my running looked TERRIBLE, felt terrible, and was just painful. But I added on an extra bit of distance before getting back to my house at 18. Again, I could have gone inside and been done at 18, but I knew my goal was 18.5, so I went up and down my street trying to go “hard” which still looked like maybe an accelerated walk/shuffle!! And then easier back to get to my total mileage goal. Ohhhh it was rough, but I finished at 18.5. I did it.
It was important.
NOT EVERY TRAINING DAY SHOULD BE AWESOME.
If you do NOT have a long run that MAKES YOU SUFFER SUFFER SUFFER, then there is really something WRONG frankly. If you are not suffering in training, you WILL suffer most likely in your race.
Most of this run, I felt like it was such a non- success and disappointment. Having completed it (and safe and back in my heated home!!!) I do now acknowledge the importance of the fight that I just gave. It will serve me well. This is the complete point of training- not to always go out there at the perfect time, not to always go out there and have a success, but to make tough decisions, find the most that you have on any given day, and keep showing up.