I got this email from my coach, Becca, today. We are about to hit the 20-miler, the biggest indicator of our fitness level and training successes for the marathon. It reads:
OK!! So I hope you are getting plenty of rest and drinking LOTS (of WATER) in preparation for this week-end long run!! I found this article for you in Runners World! Without a doubt the longest run is one of the most important parts of your overall training cycle. For months you have been building your running fitness with the goal of completing the long runs that will ultimately get you across the finish!
Tip #1: Getting StartedDon't think about the long run itself; focus instead on simply getting ready for a run. After all, getting ready to run is easy -- the concept of running 20 miles isn't. In order to do a run all you need is your shoes, your gear and maybe a watch. Done.
By breaking the longer run down into "just another run," you are effectively removing the mental obstacle 20 miles. And once you get your momentum going it will be much easier to carry that outside the door. (Lauren- you said it yourself last week- this isn't bad!!!)
Another way to help pave the way for your success by doing as much prep work the night before your long run. This could be as simple as organizing your running clothes or as in-depth as laying out your nutrition, a route map and compiling a special play list. Whatever you need, get it done before you go to bed and eliminate all those early morning excuses.
Tip #2: Get Halfway ThereThis is one of my personal favorite tips, and it's by far the simplest. Don't think about having to run an arduous 20 mile effort. Instead just focus on getting to the 10-mile mark. All you have to do then is get back home! Seriously though, this approach also gives you the opportunity to planning for the second half of your run, (NEGATIVE SPLITS- what I talk about EVERY week!) where things will get more challenging. By thinking of it as two distinct parts, you'll be 100 percent ready to have a solid overall experience.
Running long isn't always as fun and as sexy as the commercials might make it out to be. But nothing beats the feeling of having done a particularly challenging run and being just that much closer to your race, and ALL of you know what I am talking about.
I am SO proud of you!! You really are SO close to your marathon and you all working SO hard!!!!! Let me know if you have ANY questions, concerns, etc!!! Keep on keepin on!!!
Becca is the best. However, I immediately emailed her because I think as I have progressed in my training, I have regressed in my ability. I asked Becca if she thought she knew what pace I should be looking at, why my teammates seem to be moving light years ahead of me...and then it dawned on me that I seriously need to take a step back and reevaluate.
First off, why the heck am I complaining?!?!?!?! Seriously, I know I can finish this marathon and its my FIRST ONE. Why am I becoming so obsessed with timing? I need to learn how to pace myself first, learning what its like to run the 26.2 before I start tacking on some time goals. I only set myself up for disappointment that way.
Secondly, I haven't been following the training plan to a T. There are excuses I could make for why I have and have not been able to follow it as closely as my running team. I am no more busy than anyone else, yet seem to have allowed myself to let the stress of work, the anxiety I feel from my deadlines, and the tiredness I drag with me everyday getting in the way of giving this 100%. I bet if I thought about it, both in following the plan, developing my core, and with pushing myself during speedwork and tempo runs, I bet I have been giving it only 68%. Its like I'm one of my little 7th grade boys with ADHD; I think that by doing two homeworks all school year I should be getting an A because I put in hard work into those two assignments, when in fact, I'm missing about 30 assignments in the meantime. Its like I have no clue!
Thirdly, I also want to reevaluate what a training schedule could like with more time and less stress. I also need to evaluate what's more important to me. Is it my job? Is it my friends? Is it running? Is it a balance of all three? Do I need to complete marathons to feel accomplished? While I know that I am proud of myself for having taken on this challenge as it came during a time in my life where I needed to take this time for myself, do I need to make this a part of the rest of my life? Yes, fitness, but marathon training? I won't know until I cross the finish line.
Lastly, I'm really hard on myself. Plain and simple. I expect a lot from me and I'm the last one to give myself a break. I think everyone in my life can attest to that.
So, as I get ready for the rest of my evening, having just completed a tempo run (1 mile at 8:34 min/mile pace, 4 miles at 8:10 min/mile pace, then 1 more mile at 9 minute pace) I should be proud of myself for the work I have put in. I also have found a way to work hard, play hard, and train. Still, at times it never feels good enough, fast enough, strong enough, or hard enough.
Any of you ever feel like this? Does the anxiety of training make it almost impossible to enjoy? How do you fit fitness into your lifestyle?
(Here is a picture from this past weekend, and what made it so difficult to blog. After a sunday funday softball game, it was time to BBQ and hit pinatas on a very very very chilly May Day.)