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.
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