This is no longer a marathon training recap because I’ve decided to stop training and not run the marathon. It’s been a tough, angst-filled few weeks to reach this decision.
My decision changed daily. When I decided to not run the marathon, I would feel relief and peace. But then, guilt would work its way in, telling me the right decision was to run the marathon. So then I’d change my mind and grudgingly decide to run it, but then I’d immediately be resentful and picture the remaining weeks of the toughest part of training a form of torture, and the race itself a personal hell of anxiety and misery.
Still, I had my reasons for running the marathon. Initially, I wanted to run it because I didn’t feel like my first attempt reflected what I was truly capable of. I’d been wanting a second chance the minute I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. But over the course of this year–when my mindset changed from running for performance to running for fun–and over this training cycle, that reason lessened. Of course, I’d always like perfect race days and effortless PRs. But given the likelihood of those things not happening, I just didn’t care enough anymore to work for it, either in training or during the race.
There were three other reasons I wanted to still run it, even though I really didn’t want to. The first reason is simply because I can. I’ve successfully completed 14 weeks of training and am healthy. Even if I coasted through the remaining weeks, I could still probably run it. The second reason is FOMO. What if race day is my lucky day? It’s like playing the slot machines–because I haven’t had many good races in my six years of running, what if this marathon is my jackpot? The third is simply to gain closure. If I quit without running a race, would I regret it?
But even as I decided, YES, I’m going to grudgingly continue training and run the race just to do it, I couldn’t pull the trigger. I couldn’t register or make travel plans.
And so I was caught in a self-inflicted turmoil of indecision. I appreciated all the thoughts people shared and mulled each over. But I couldn’t make a decision, even while understanding I was enmeshed in angst of my own making.
I ran Monday, Wednesday, and Friday last week. I had to take a second rest day Thursday because I had to leave very early and get back late for a work trip. But I still planned on doing my long weekend runs.
Rain was forecasted for all of Saturday, so I set my alarm very early to drive to the trail to do my 16-mile long run. I’d been tossing and turning through the night before, as I had most of the week. I was exhausted and just couldn’t get up. I slept in a bit, and then a bit more. I toyed with the idea of skipping my long run, knowing that doing so would make my decision for me. Still I got up and went about my morning routine, planning to run. But when I checked the radar map, I realized the rain was starting soon, and I’d probably have to run at least 2.5 hours of my long run in the rain. It was dark and dreary, and knowing I’d need to run my long run in the rain all pushed me over the edge. My decision was made. I was skipping my long run run. I was quitting training. I wasn’t going to run the marathon.
And I was thrilled! The whole day stretched ahead of me, glittering with possibility. I could do all the things I couldn’t do when half of the day was taken up by my long run. It was a glorious feeling. I spent the day getting out my winter work and running clothes and putting away my summer clothes. I also finally put away the bushel of clean clothes I’d let stack up from the laundry. And in between all that, I cuddled on the couch with my cats while reading a good book. Is there anything better than cuddling under blankets with warm cats and a book when it’s raining outside? It was awesome! I couldn’t have been happier.
In the afternoon, Dave and I had plans to meet Sara from Sara Runs This Town and her husband at Threadbare Cider House. Sara had reached out to me offering to talk through my decision of whether or not to run the marathon–how nice is that?! I have to admit that walking over, I was scared to admit that I’d already made my decision, and I worried that others would judge me because it wasn’t the right decision. Of course I shouldn’t have worried. Sara is super nice, and we enjoyed a relaxed and laugher-filled afternoon together. We talked about running and about the unique challenges of marathon distance and how so much can go wrong. It was actually a good reminder that it’s common to want to do better in the marathon, but to not actually want to train or run another one for a variety of reasons.
I’d planned on running Sunday, but in addition to it being raining, it was also cold. Not having to go out into the rain and cold was the best. Instead, we spent the day with my mom.
I was so happy to have the weekend free and not have to run in the rain, but still I felt guilty. Did I make the right decision? I still had time to change my mind.
Sunday night I had another restless night pondering my decision, causing me to sleep in Monday and not run. That’s when I realized that I need to own my decision. I need to focus on what makes me happy and move forward instead of looking back and doubting myself.
So, after three days off running and with marathon training behind me, here I am feeling like a new person. I said earlier this year that races aren’t important to me. I don’t need a race on the calendar to stay motivated, I don’t enjoy much about the entire race experience, and I can challenge myself in other ways. And yet, I’ve still struggled with the competing desire to want to do better, and the best way to measure that is in a race.
This decision has confirmed the current path I’m taking in my running journey, the path toward running for the fun of it instead of toward performance. I’ve been slowly taking the steps toward this path for a while, and I feel more strongly that this is the right direction for me. Life is too short to not do what we love, right?
I’m not saying I will never run a race again. I’m considering a few races for fun with friends next year. And I might change my mind and want to try for a time goal again at some point. I’m also not ruling out another marathon. I know some of you have wondered if the Hansons’ method is right for me since I seem to fizzle out at the end of training. That’s a good point. The Hansons’ method is all about performance, which is the opposite of what motivates me. Plus, there’s no reason I can’t run high mileage if I want on my own, without doing Hansons’. But that’s getting ahead of myself.
I’m finally in a good place with my decision and looking forward to setting some new goals. That deserves a separate post, though. Until then, I’ll share with you my final training stats.
Weeks of training: 14
Total training miles: 422.45
Total training in time: 94:26
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!