I was 16 miles away from home. My family dropped me off and I stood alone surrounded by prairies on one side, coulees on the other, and the rocky mountains in the distance. Seven weeks out from my first marathon and I was going to run the longest distance I have done in years. Little did I know this run was going to end my marathon training.
Not one big thing happened on this particular run, it was a build up of many things.
While anything you do has to do with your mindset, marathon training is extremely mentally challenging. Even if you feel good physically, you spend a good amount of time fighting all the negative thoughts going on in your head.
On this particular morning I was resentful of my run. It was a beautiful day, the kind I would have been out hiking or camping. I haven’t done much in the mountains because my long runs take up my Sundays leaving Saturday filled with chores and errands.
It’s been very difficult to give up sleep, time with my kids, or time spent hiking to go out and run.
One of the main reasons I signed up to run a marathon was to finally lose this stubborn baby weight. Last time I trained, I dropped 15 pounds in four months. This time around, I’ve lost about two pounds in five months.
While my legs are noticeably leaner and stronger, feeling my tummy and love handles jiggle as I ran along mile after mile kept making me madder and madder.
My Physical Abilities
My running forte is short sprinting. I ran the 100 and 200 meter dash in high school and college. I found the 400 meter dash to be too far. So imagine how far 26.2 miles feels!
I was sure if I stuck to the training plan that my body would adjust accordingly. I rarely missed a run and I’ve pushed through all weather to finish my mileage each week. Despite the discipline my times aren’t improving, I’m not getting any faster and even the short runs aren’t getting any easier.
I am a stubborn person; I finish what I start. I push through. But as I plodded along on this run I mentally broke down. I cried for an entire mile as I ran along and fought with myself in my head.
I messaged my brother because he and I were training for this together. He responded that he was really struggling as this training was causing a lot of knee pain. He suggested we drop down to the half marathon. As soon as I said yes to dropping to a half, that mental weight was lifted from my shoulders.
I can complete a half marathon, I just did one a week ago. I’ve done a few over the years. This means my long runs will drop from four hours to two or less. My morning runs will take one hour instead of 2.5.
Feeling Weak But Relieved
My family was disappointed. They told us to stick it out, to not give up. In our family we push through hard things to come out on the other side. So I have struggled a bit with my feelings of failure.
But whenever I start to get down on myself I think about how I don’t have to spend the next two months dreading the weekends. How I can now take my boys out to play on Sundays because I won’t be wiped out on the couch all day. I can hit the mountains for hikes on Saturdays instead of worrying about saving my legs for Sunday. All in all, I am very relieved.
I don’t feel proud about doing this. I feel stupid as hell. But I’m writing about it because we all have to understand that sometime we’ll fail in life. And we have to learn to live with that failure, and move on to the next thing.
Anyway, I’ll still be running with my brother in July, just the Deseret News HALF marathon instead of the full. And I’m very happy about it.