Out of the mouths of babes

Conversation with my 11 year old son today (he started it, we weren’t talking about running before this):

Son:  Remember when you used to have to train for a 5k?

Me:  Yes.  5k used to be a long way for me.  I had to walk 3 times in my first 5k race.  Now I don’t have to walk at all in a 5k.

Son:  Well you have to walk in a marathon.

Me:  Only sometimes, if I get hurt or sometimes through a waterstop while I’m drinking.

Son:  You could run a whole marathon without walking?

Me:  That’s the idea.  I know I can run 3 1/2 hours  without walking, because I’ve done it in training runs.

Son:  Well that’s just jogging, not running.

Me:  No.  It’s running.  It’s at a pace faster than what you or dad or Meg could race a 5k.

Son:  How come you always do good in training runs and you screw up in marathons?

Out of the mouths of babes!

It’s a good question though.  One that I know most runners wonder about.  We have FABULOUS training runs and cycles and then race day comes and BAM another screw up.  Why is that?  My answer to Carter was that marathons are different because when you are racing them your whole pace is much faster than training paces and the race itself is much longer than the training runs.  It’s the faster pace and the extra 6 miles that do most people in.  Looking back at my previous 6 marathons, I’ve figured out what has screwed me up, other than just the overall faster pace and longer distance.

For me, my marathons have been screwed up because of:

  • Weather conditions, obviously.  Heat.  Cold/Rain.  Humidity.  I’ve had them all and they all screwed up my races.
  • Injuries.  Pulled quads.  IT bands.  Phantom injuries.  Leg cramps.  It’s hard to achieve a race goal when these things happen.  (For me, I think some of them – the cramps – were due to improper hydration, which I’ve now figured out how to do).
  • Going out too fast.  This is a big one for me.  When I look back at my paces in the early miles, I really think if I had stayed at a more controlled pace for the level of training I was at and for my goal, things may have turned out better in some of the marathons I’ve run.
  • Being too ambitious with my goals.  I look back at my first marathon and even my second, where I was trying to BQ (3:45 at the time) and when I look through my log and blog and examine the training I was doing, I don’t think I was really in shape for that kind of race.

What other reasons have you guys (my 5 readers!) experienced as being the reason for your marathon “screw ups”?

And, as I was talking to my son about this and thinking about it later, I thought about that even though to me (and many of you) our marathons are screw ups, it is really frickin amazing, if you think about it, to be able to RUN for 3 or 4 HOURS without stopping.  If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be able to do that, I wouldn’t have believed it.

2 thoughts on “Out of the mouths of babes

  1. I LOVE this. It made me laugh out loud. You are 100% correct…every marathon (no matter how long it takes to cross the finish line) is an achievement. It really is an incredible feat. We are just so focused on BQing now that we lose sight of that.

    Your 4 reasons are exactly why I’ve screwed up. As you said before, all the elements have to come together perfectly on race day. If they don’t, you’re screwed!

  2. Training for months and laying it all out for just one day is a big gamble (as you know), sometimes there’s not a definitive reason why the race doesn’t go as you’d like. Perhaps your legs are tired (esp if air travel is involved) or your stomach isn’t happy but sometimes it’s just that the stars aren’t aligned. Things feel tougher than they should, for whatever reason, your mind gets the better of you, you’re not focused, could be any or all of these things. I know that’s probably not the easiest thing to explain to your son but it happens 🙂

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