Thursday, August 18, 2011

Marathon Training: Mental Strength

Here's another one of those posts where I admit I am human and not just an energizer bunny-like exercise machine =P Hope this helps others realize you are not alone in your irrational behavior when training for a marathon ;)

After Saturday's 18 miler, the tendons on the front of my right leg, near the ankle joint, hurt every time I flexed my foot. After running for over 4 hours, it's not surprising to have sore feet, ankles, shins, you name it. But when it didn't go away by Monday, I started to worry. I stayed home from work so I could stay off my feet and iced it all day. Not wanting to risk making it worse and having to skip my 20 mile run on 8/27, I skipped Tuesday's run to let it rest. It finally felt better yesterday (cue huge sigh of relief) and I went for a run this morning. It was glorious! Being the super cautious runner that I am, I did not dare attempt the scheduled track workout. I went for an easy run with my group instead, and it was AMAZING! The weather was a little cooler, the run was pain free, and we ran faster than I expected, yet it felt effortless. I guess that's the benefits of 4 days of no running ;)

[A slight, but very relevant tangent before I conclude my story: becoming a group leader is one of the best decisions I've ever made. It brings a new level of joy to running, it helps me run more consistently, and I pay more attention to not doing something stupid since I want to set a good example. But best of all, my running group absolutely ROCKS! Most of them skipped the track workout to run with me this morning and we had an amazing time. /Tangent #1]

So that's the happy ending to this story, but it came at the tail end of 4 tense days. Because I'm training for a marathon, my imagination went into overdrive on Sunday. I had a tiny breakdown Monday night, and I snapped at Jason when he implied that I shouldn't even think about running on Tuesday. I may be driven and OCD enough to want to keep to a training schedule, but I am not stupid. Of course I wanted to run on Tuesday, but I knew better and had already decided I wasn't going to try. That was the reason I was so cranky because I knew I would miss the run. But it's fair of him to assume that I was considering it since marathon runners are insane and tend to ignore obvious signs to rest.

[Tangent #2: It goes without saying that Jason is the best boyfriend in the world to put up with my neurotic tendencies, which are tenfold during marathon training =P Even though I don't always want to hear it, he keeps me grounded and makes me realize how ridiculous I am being when I freak out after barely 2 days of dealing with this "injury" because I may miss my 20 mile run 2 weeks later, which of course will ruin my training schedule and my chances at racing this marathon. =P And you think Taper Madness is bad? ;)]

I must sound like a broken record explaining to my group why we run slower and with more walk breaks during long runs and in the heat, and cautioning them against risky behavior that may result in injury, but this is why. When training for a shorter race, a small setback doesn't phase me as much because I haven't put as much effort into training and given so much of myself. But training for a marathon is A LOT of hard work, specially now that I am training for a time goal. When I ask so much of my body, is easy to mistake something minor for something that could turn into a major injury. I do not want to do anything at all that will jeopardize me starting this race, let alone finishing it and meeting my goals. It would absolutely crush me to have put in all these miles and then have to skip the race.

I've said it before, but running a marathon doesn't scare me. I know I will finish this one, just like I knew I would finish the first one before I even ran 20 miles in training. But training for a marathon is very daunting and requires great mental toughness. There are a lot of early morning, lots of long runs in all kinds of conditions, and so many little things that can go run and mess with your confidence. I am not sure how often I will train for a marathon in the future, but every time I do I learn more and more about myself and just how tough I am.

1 comment:

Katy Grinnell said...

I love what you say about being conservative with your training. I agree with this 100%...and this is hard for me to pull back the reigns a little sometimes. I forget sometimes that I'd rather slow down a little than end up injured again. RUN HAPPY!!! :)

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails