Newport is now less than 4 weeks away and I’m in the peak of my training. I just finished my second consecutive 50 mile week and have 52 on the schedule this coming week. Whew! It’s going OK but I’m struggling a bit with my attitude about it.
I always get to a point in my training where I question my ability and look back at previous training cycles for comparison. I inevitably am shocked at how fast I was before and feel like a total failure and slacker now. Although I haven’t really gotten that much slower at all, I achieve this conclusion by focusing on my few super great runs from previous years and compare them to my crappiest runs of late. Dumb. Anyway, even though I know this is a flawed and useless exercise, I’m more convinced then ever that it is true!
This training cycle is definitely a bit different from any before, and so it is hard to compare. For one, I trained for and ran a 20 mile trail race 8 weeks out from the marathon. So my training was focused on that for several weeks, and then I recovered and ramped back up for a shorter marathon-focused training. The other big difference is that we just bought a house and most of my focus and energy is going toward that. Running has been a great distraction, but I know I’m not giving the training the attention I have in the past.
Maybe the biggest change this time around, and the thing I’m struggling with the most, is my general attitude about training. Of course I still love running as much as I always have, but I just don’t have the desire to push myself as hard anymore. I have lost my enthusiasm for suffering. I don’t care to race as often, I don’t put much effort into speed workouts, and in general I like to take it easy. I’ve struggled though enough intervals and injuries and ice baths to know how I feel about them. Meh. I just love running and I don’t feel the need to push it. I like long runs, I like trail runs, I like running with friends. But lately I haven’t felt the need to crank up my power mix and hammer out a fast pace. I know this is going to affect my speed and I thought I was ok with that. But I’m at that point in my training where I need to reflect back and judge myself and I’m kind of freaked out. I said from the beginning I wasn’t even planning on trying to BQ or PR or anything, so why am I feeling so bad about it now?? My goal was to run a 3:45-3:50 marathon and that is what I’ve been training for. I’m definitely capable of it, and it’s a fine goal! But I can’t help but get down on myself for not training on par with my 3:36 or 3:39 marathon finish times.
I wrote the previous paragraphs this morning and have thought about this all day. I talked to Aron, Emily, and Zach about it, and also thought about it during yoga tonight. I think between writing it out and then bouncing this off my friends and in meditation I have some clarity on it. Really, this comes down to the same search for balance that I have been working toward the last year or so. This is the essential conflict I have going on all the time. I want to just have fun with running, to entertain other hobbies and interests. But I have a hard time letting go of that side that constantly compares and competes and strives to be better.
Emily had this great reading today in yoga that I will try to paraphrase. It is that within ourselves we have a paradox. On the one hand, we have the need to strive for perfection, to challenge and push ourselves to be better. On the other hand, we are content with things exactly as they are. We are at peace in the present moment with no desire for change. I am working to balance these two sides and to find peace and happiness in my life. I know that right now, I don’t need to be running more/harder/faster. That isn’t the problem. What I need to do is accept myself, and love myself, exactly as I am.
Anyway, that is what I am hung up on at the moment. I am working on it and writing this out has helped. Now I have 4 weeks to get my mind set on a positive attitude and have a great race.
Here is a quick summary of my week to show what I was talking about before (and also one run that completely disproves my theory)
Tuesday: 8 miles at 9:08 pace. This was supposed to be an intervals run, and I kind of did it. I didn’t have my garmin so I ran some half-assed ½ mile intervals based on landmarks I knew. I sort of checked my watch and I think they were around 7:30 ish pace.
Wednesday: 4.0 miles at 7:25 pace. Forest Park run – this was supposed to be an easy run but I was in a great mood and feeling super springy and happy and hammered it out. It was fun! So clearly I am capable of running fast, but I really have to be in the mood.
Thursday: 11 miles at 9:37 pace. Medium long run and I ran slowwww. Felt Ok though.
Friday: rest (fly to San Diego)
Saturday: 10 miles at 9:00 pace along Mission Beach in San Diego. Fun!
Sunday: 17 miles at 9:10 pace on Coronado Island in SD. Tired toward the end but actually felt pretty good. First couple miles were slow and then I was running consistently right at 9:00.
Total: 50 miles! Perfect. I will try to adjust my perspective on that and just be happy with it!
One thing that did give me some perspective is that Zach’s knee started bothering him last week, and he wasn’t able to run at all in San Diego. He was super frustrated at missing the long run and is worried about the marathon. I know he’ll be fine but it sucks and I know how he feels. So I did feel grateful that I was at least healthy and able to run. (Update: he ran tonight and had no pain. Yay!)
Well here are a few pictures from our weekend in San Diego. It was a really wonderful visit, I can’t even explain it. William and Melanie are both doing amazing. Melanie has been home from the hospital for a few weeks and while she still has some issues with her hip (will need another surgery soon) and her eye, she is otherwise fine. It’s amazing. We spent a lot of quality time together and I think it was great for all of us. It’s been a rough road and I think this was the really fun and positive weekend we all needed. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers, I really believe it made a difference in their recovery.
Lots of pictures!
Saturday morning run on Mission Beach:
Saturday afternoon - Melanie’s “Welcome Home” party:
Sunday – William and Zach smoke cigars on the patio
Monday – hanging out on Mission Beach
Thanks for reading! :)