It happened. I fell apart. I was so happy last week to run my 50-mile week and feel good. Well, it came crashing down on me last week.
At the start of the week, I didn’t feel overly exhausted, but mentally I felt like I needed a break. I decided to switch Wednesday’s workout for an easy run for more recovery, especially since I had a hard workout coming up that weekend. During that run, it all hit me: Why am I doing this? I don’t care about running a marathon anymore. I don’t like races. If I don’t care about the marathon, I won’t have the mental strength to push when it gets hard, and this year’s race will be no better than last year. Why bother? I just don’t want to do it anymore.
I talked to Dave. I talked to my mom. No one could tell me what to do.
I read my recaps from last year’s marathon training and realized I was going through the exact same thing as last year. I was tired of being tired, didn’t want to do the race anymore, didn’t care about eating healthy anymore, and didn’t feel like myself. The difference is last year I had invested a lot of money in a Hansons’ coach and had already registered for the race. And my coach was not letting me quit.
This year, I had no one telling me not to quit, I haven’t registered for a race, and I’ve enjoyed training enough for its own sake that it wouldn’t feel like a waste to not do the race.
And while reading my last year’s training recaps, I realized I’ve gotten slower. For example, I ran last year’s 50-mile week in 10:21. This year it took me 11:11. My long runs were also much easier and faster last year.
So on top of not wanting to do the race or caring about it, here were facts showing me I wasn’t where I was last year fitness-wise. If I had such a disaster of a race last year after being significantly faster and fitter, what was going to happen this year if I ran the race?
I’ve said I have no big time goals, but I guess I just expected I would do better than last year’s race. What if I didn’t? I thought about what would happen if I got a huge PR and realized I’d be happy, sure, but in the big picture it just wouldn’t mean that much to me–not enough to motivate me to care. But, on the other hand, if I did worse than last year, I would care a lot.
By Thursday, I was 99% sure I wasn’t going to run the marathon. I skipped my run–the first time all training cycle I’ve done that except for my light week on vacation. I woke up at 2:30 a.m. Friday morning and couldn’t fall back asleep, overcome with indecision. I finally went for my run just to get out of bed and stop tossing and turning.
The final straw was the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon, my favorite race. It would be my fifth consecutive year running it. I planned to use it as my workout, with 10 miles at goal marathon pace in between 3 miles of warm-up and cool-down. After 8 miles of running at marathon pace, I died. I put everything I had in those last two miles, struggling mightily, and still ran them 30 seconds/mile slower than marathon pace. That was it for me. If I can only do 8 miles at marathon pace, there’s no way I’m running a marathon.
Later, I looked up my splits from last year. I actually did the entire race at goal marathon pace last year, and it felt easy, like I was holding back, and I had energy to pick up the pace in the last 5K. Again, the difference between last year and this year really hit me, shattering any last remnant of self-confidence. Not only did I not want to run the marathon, now, I wasn’t sure I could. It seemed the arguments against running a marathon just kept building.
And then, a sliver of hope. After the race, I met Jamie at a new cider house that opened in my neighborhood. (Pittsburghers: It’s Threadbare Cider House, started by the Wigle Whiskey folks. The space is gorgeous, but beware that the ciders are very different. One of the brewers described one of the ciders as “funky,” and I’d agree with him. One of them is aged in a whiskey barrel so tastes a bit like whiskey, which I find repulsive. I like traditional ciders, so did not really like these ciders. But they also had beer, and their pizzas–available with cashew mozzarella–were very good.)
Jamie gave me good advice. She pointed our how different we are. She doesn’t wear a watch and can’t even recall her PRs without looking them up. She just runs at whatever feels good to her. She said I, on the other hand, am hell-bent on running a certain pace, and if I don’t I feel like a failure and beat myself up. She said that if I really don’t want to run the race, I won’t be in a good mental place and won’t have a good race. But if I can change my thinking to truly running it for fun, and truly not caring about my time, I should do it.
I thought back to earlier this year, when I truly stopped caring about my pace and focused on training by heart rate. It made me so much happier as a runner, and I stopped having a lot of the angst I’ve previously had. Could I leave my watch at home or set it to show only heart rate and just run the race for fun? Could I accept that doing that might result in a worse time than last year, and not let it bother me?
That’s where I’m at now. Now that I had a lighter week last year, I’m feeling better, but I still haven’t made up my mind. I’m going to keep training, but scaling back on mileage because I know I mentally can’t handle another 50-mile week. I’m going to focus on just running for fun and will hope that the answers come to me. If you have any advice, I’d love to hear it.
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Training for the NCR Marathon November 25, 2017 using the Hansons’ Marathon Method
- Days running: 5
- Miles this week: 36.23
- Time running: 7:54
- Miles this training cycle: 410.47
- Miles this month: 138.23
- Miles this year: 943.71
- Strength training: Nothing
Easy run: 4 miles
Easy run: 7 miles
Unplanned rest day
Easy run: 4 miles
Buffalo Creek Half Marathon: 13.24 miles
My time according to my Garmin was 2:37:31. The race results didn’t record a start time and I started in the back of the pack so lost at least 1:30 off my time. If I were going for a PR, I would have been mad! I did two miles warm-up, 10 at marathon pace, and the last mile as a cool-down. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and I got to see lots of friends. But I just couldn’t feel a lot of love for this race this year because I was pretty disappointed in not being able to hold my goal pace. Also, one thing I love about the race is that the shirt and medal have always had a nature theme based on what race organizers see on the trail that year. Last year it was an owl, one year it was a butterfly, another a turtle. This year–some type of U.S. flag logo?! I was pretty bummed to not see the nature theme continue.
Easy run: 8 miles
I ran this with Joanna and her friend at North Park. If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have run. I was in such poor spirits that I didn’t even take my post-run selfie.
PS: I’ve been feeling so low that I’m being in responding to blog comments. Please know that I read and appreciate them all! I will get caught up this week.
I’m linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap, Steff, for the Pittsburgh Run Bloggers Weekly Recap, and Courtney for her Training Recap. Have a great week!