Stepping Back

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 7 year stint of marathon training (7 years!), it’s that you have to listen to – and trust – yourself.  You have to trust that you know what’s best for you.  You can hire a pricey coach.  You can read a dozen “how to run” books.  You can do the workouts that all your running friends swear by.  But ultimately, to be successful at the marathon, you need to listen to what your body is telling you.  Not just your physical body and it’s aches, pains and tight spots.  But your mental self too.

I’ve run 12 marathons.  Most of them were “learning experiences”, where I go out blazing fast and hit The Famous Wall way too early and end up walk-jogging-limping it in.  Some of them were decent.  Two of them were fast enough to BQ.  But each one was a success in its own way.

So as I sit here in the middle of week 10 of my 16 week marathon training plan, I realize that I need to take a step back and listen to – and trust – myself.  Twin Cities Marathon 2014 will be marathon #13.  It was supposed to be marathon #13 last year too – but I was sidelined for 168 days of NO running after multiple tibial stress fractures.  And on every single one of those 168 days that I wasn’t able to run, I swore that when I was able to run again, I would love every second of it.  And the thing is, that with this marathon training cycle, I’m not loving every single second.  Not because the running group isn’t great (they are).  And not because the running coach isn’t great (he is).  And not because the plan isn’t a good one (it is).  But I’m not loving every second because participating in a training plan that has 2 quality (speed, hills) workouts and a long run with some pace in it each week (plus easy runs and cross) is too much, too soon – for me.

Don’t get my wrong – my physical body actually feels great (yes, I did just knock on wood).  No lingering pains.  No signs of stress fracture.  I’m feeling fit and healthy and strong.  I’m 100% confident that I can cover the marathon distance and do so at a respectable pace.

It’s my mental self that is screaming at me to step back and reevaluate the training that I’m doing.  With the training plan I’m doing, I’ve set my expectations (for goal time) at a level that – while it may physically and mentally be achievable for me in 6 weeks – is putting too much pressure on myself and taking away the loving every second part.  I’m still loving the runs.  But I’m not loving the planning and worrying and self-imposed pressure of trying to fit in each of the workouts into what is a really busy time for me (with work and life).

So there you have it.  I’m officially stepping back from my marathon training plan.  

Huh? 

What exactly does that mean?

It means I’m officially NOT having a goal time for my marathon.  (I know – you are all thinking “yeah right.  I know you Cindi.  you have a goal time.  You have your paces figured out for each mile. You can’t NOT have a goal time.”).  But I’m serious.  So serious that I’m even gonna do the unthinkable.  I’m not gonna wear my garmin.  For real.  I’m just gonna run Twin Cities naked, so to speak.  Garminless.   (Ok – I probably will still put it in my waist belt, so I can look at the data later – but I’m seriously NOT wearing it on my wrist and worrying about splits!)

It means I’m gonna work hard for 3 more weeks before 3 weeks of taper, but I’m not gonna stress about it.  But I’m just gonna look at the schedule coach gives me and try to fit in what I can, when I can – and if I can’t, then I’ll just run whatever feels right at the time (example, for various reasons this week I pushed off the quality workouts that were supposed to be Monday night and Wednesday night; I did them Tuesday morning and then just couldn’t get it in today – so I stressed about how that was throwing off my whole week because if I did the 2nd quality workout tomorrow, then I couldn’t do a long run with pace on Saturday because that’s setting myself up for injury . . .).  SO – if I can’t get in the workouts, I’ll improvise.  The good thing about having run so many marathons is that I know myself and I know I’ll be able to finish it.

It means I’m gonna spend the next 6 weeks loving every second of the runs AND the time in between the runs.

So there you have it.  I’m officially stepping back.*

*Serious sigh of relief going on here. Loving it.  And looking forward to marathon #13

 

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20 miles – wheeee!

Had the first (of 3) 20 mile runs of this training cycle this morning. 3 hours and 7 minutes of running.  In a row.  Wheee! It was tough, but in a good way.  Mentally it was tough to go slow (it was supposed to be LSD, so I tried to stay about 50 – 90 seconds slower than MP).  Physically it ended up being tough because I picked a hilly route.  It was also physically tough to do 3 faster miles towards the end (was supposed to do 3 MPP miles – complete fail, could not do it).

I love the 20 miler because every single time I run 20 miles I learn a lesson from it.  Today’s lesson:  what you eat and drink in the week preceding, WILL affect how you perform on the 20 mile run.  I overindulged in food and drink at a conference in Duluth Sunday – Tuesday and I believe that’s why I struggled with the faster miles today (and on my speedier workouts earlier this week).

Still, even though it was a tough 20 miles, I LOVED every step of it.  

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43 Years of Me!

I celebrated turning 43 today with a 15 mile solo run.  It was heavenly.  Much needed me time.  Perfect start to 43.

I was also inspired today by watching Scott (virtually – through online tracking and texts from his crew) earn his 2nd buckle at Leadville 100 mile mountain bike race.  He tried a new training program this spring and has been working his butt off all spring/summer.  It paid off big time – he shaved 38 minutes off his time from last year, finishing just under 11 hours.  So inspiring to see hard work pay off.  11 hours up and down a mountain.  Yikes!

Finished the day with family, cake and pink flowers.

Love 43.

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Get Going.

change

So many exciting, scary, fun, hard – but ultimately exciting – changes going on right now.  Thank goodness for running so that I have time to unwind and process things in my head. Wheeeeee!

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It’s All Good.

I have felt INSANELY happy and satisfied all day today.

Why?  Because I raced a half marathon.  The Urban Wildland Half Marathon. First race since the stress fracture.

And oh how I have missed it.  It’s one of those things that you don’t realize just how much you have missed it until you are in the moment.

Waking up with nervous excitement. Pinning on my race bib.  Doing warm up run with the group.  Chatting with runners who I’ve met through various groups and events over the last 8 years.  Seeing the spectators and their fun signs.  Hearing little kids cheering “You can do it.  I KNOW you can do it”.  Implementing my race strategy – a negative split!  Pushing myself – mentally and physically – through the hard moments.  Stopping to help a fallen runner and share my water bottle with him until help arrived.  Crossing the finish line knowing that I gave it my best and met my pace goal.  

Even though my race time was 7 minutes slower than my PR – it was all that I could do with my current fitness and I loved loved loved every second of it.  It was all good.  So so good. I am SO thankful to be back running and racing.

Exactly one year ago I was experiencing so much anger.  And the next day I spilled my heart out about the emotional impact of my injury and confessed that I wonder if I’ll ever be able to run again.  Now, it’s all good.

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Attitude!

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are all in charge of our attitudes.” ~Charles Swindoll

This might be my new favorite quote.  Love it.  Love it for work.  Love it for personal life.  Love it for something to teach the kids. Love it for running.

Seriously.  How true is that quote for running a marathon?  When I look back on my 12 marathons, so many of them were sabotaged by my own attitude.  If the weather was too hot (Grandma’s Marathon 2009), too rainy (Twin Cities Marathon 2008), too windy (Lansing Marathon 2012), too whatever, I reacted to it negatively – went in with a bad attitude (“I put in MONTHS of training and now it’s too hot/windy/rainy for me to do well, so I might as well just give up right now”) –  and was doomed from step one.  How different could those marathons have been if instead of reacting negatively to the circumstances that I couldn’t change, I would have just rolled with the punches and gone in with a smile and positive attitude? (And maybe adjusted my pace a bit from the start . . .)  I firmly believe that in marathon running, a positive attitude is necessary to success.

For the past two + years I have been lucky enough to share my days with Scott, who is – hands down – the most positive, happy, easy-going, roll with the punches person that I know.  When I read the complete attitude passage by Charles Swindoll, I thought of Scott and the goodness he brings to my life and the lives of everyone who is touched by him, and it is, in large part, due to his ultra-positive attitude.

????????

There he is: Mr. Positive Attitude. :-)

Here’s the whole passage:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company… a church… a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes”  –Charles Swindoll

Remember it, blog readers.  Live by it.  There is so much about life we can’t control.  We are lucky that we can be in charge of our own attitude.

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