I have been doing this running thing for a long time. I think I have a pretty good handle on it, I know what to expect. There are gonna be ups and there are gonna be downs – just gotta ride the waves and let it flow. But last week, man… last week was a downer. I was on the edge, I almost cracked.
To run your best marathon you have to prepare fully and completely. There is obviously a huge physical component to this game, but there is as also that equally important mental aspect. One of things I love most about this sport is that it is the ultimate collaboration of your body and mind working together as one.
When you prepare correctly the marathon can be a glorious thing. You toe that line ready to take on the world. You can feel unstoppable, invincible. It is great, every runner longs to reach that pinnacle.
But there are occasions when things go the other way, sometimes things just aren’t right. There are instances when you are just not there physically, hampered by injury or just failing to do the work. You can’t perform to your optimal level.
You may also be off mentally, intimidated by that daunting 42.2K grind. Those feelings of doubt or fear can sabotage the months of hard work and ruin your race.
Then there are the times when neither body nor mind are right. That is a crappy place to find oneself. That’s when things are no fun, that’s when things get ugly. That’s where I was headed last week.
I was physically exhausted and mentally fried. I just felt bad, oh so bad. We’re not just talking running bad here either, this was life bad.
I brought it on myself really. I didn’t give myself enough of a mental or physical break after Moscow. My fitness was great, all I needed to do was chill and relax a bit. Nine weeks is plenty of time to rest and reload. I’d be fine for Toronto! But after Moscow I was so amped to get back into things that I rushed it. I mean come on, a 130 mile week followed by a 155 mile week the second and third week after a major marathon? That was just dumb!
Monday last week I woke up feeling achy, sore and tired. Usually a cup of coffee provides a quick fix. No dice. Morning run is a write off. Afternoon workout not much better. Feeling pretty down about the whole day, digging a hole.
Next day, another couple crappy runs in the stupid heat and humidity. This heat is really starting to bug me. I am growing more and more irritable and grumpy. There is a general haze just fogging my brain.
Wednesday, 5×2 miles – brutal, just brutal. I come home from the run:
Coach Pete: “How’d it go?”
Grumpy Rob: “Horribly.”
Coach Pete: “Why?”
Grumpy Rob: “Because it is too effing hot to do any work in this shit and my legs are done!” *sulks the day away*
I was grumpy, I was tired and I was not in a good space. Before things got too far outta hand I had to do something. I consider myself to be a very positive person, and optimist to the bone. So when I start having a tough time seeing the glass as half full a change has got to be made.
I decided to just shut it down. If only for a few days I needed to recharge. I simply laid around and did very little. I did some very slow jogs and skipped the gym. I ate some junk food and slept 12 hours a night. I reflected on why I do this and what I want out of it. Took some Rob time.
I had a workout Saturday, a hard nine mile tempo. I was still feeling a little lethargic and indifferent towards things. The little vacation had helped a bit. I felt a bit better, maybe? I thought I was pulling through. This nine miler would tell me a lot.
It is very easy to convince yourself of something whilst sitting on the couch sipping coffee. You can tell yourself over and over to just suck it up and work through it. But it’s when you are out there on the roads, when it starts to burn, and float turns to fight. That is when the truth comes out, that is when you find your answers.
I had a very simple plan heading into this workout: go hard and see how the body and head responds.
I started the tempo and my legs felt alright, wanted to find that steady, hard rhythm. From the get-go I was actually feeling decent, had a little pep in the legs and my thoughts were positive. I eventually looked down at my watch after a few miles. Dear god was I happy with what I saw – just rolled past three miles at 4:58/mile pace.
Couple more miles go by and I am holding the pace. Six miles at 29:49. The burn is getting hot, time to answer some questions.
Ended up running 45:04 for nine miles. I fell off the pace the last few miles, but kept the effort full on. Man was I happy. The legs felt so much better and my head had stayed focused and strong.
Marathons, man, these things are serious business. The race is a war, but there are so many battles to fight along the way. Keep fighting friends, keep pushing. Onward to STWM!