It seems unbelievable that in a little over a month I’ll be lining up in Pittsburgh to run my first Marathon. I mean, it feels weird to think about. I’ve had my mind set on this Marathon for more than a year – planning, training, dreading – and now it’s almost here.
I wish I could say that I was ready. Emotionally, I think I am. But physically, I’m not so sure. I have one more long run scheduled for this upcoming weekend before my taper begins, and even though I’ve done 20 miles before, I am having serious doubts. What’s worse, as the longer runs in the training program have gotten longer, my motivation has gone away.
I dread the longer runs. I don’t want my legs to hurt for the next week after I run. I don’t want to feel so tired. I don’t want to eat like I am a black whole sucking up entire universes. Maybe this is normal for first-time marathoners, maybe it’s not. I’ve read a bit about the “runner burnout,” and I suspect that is where my problem lies.
For more than a year I’ve been training for a race. First it was the Manchester Half Marathon, and now it’s the Pittsburgh Marathon. I had no break in between. A little while ago I thought maybe I was just over running, but then I realized how great I feel after a run, and maybe I just need to not work toward one ambitious goal.
So after May 1 and my legs recover from the strain, I’ve decided to look at some shorter distances again, and try to get faster and stronger. That way, if I do decide to run another Marathon, I’ll be more prepared and muscularly balanced.
Here’s what is on the radar for the coming months, but for the first time in a year, I’m able to be flexible with the races, and not lock myself in.
- August/September: 5K, maybe one for fun, one for a PR
- Late September: Windham 10K, with a hopeful PR
- November: Maybe the Manchester Half again, with the goal of getting under 2:15
- April 2017: 10K in Groton, MA
While I know that it’s very important to have goals, it’s almost as important to remain flexible. If I’ve learned anything from this month, it’s that things can change in an instant, like landing in the ER with stroke-like symptoms and being referred to a neurologist. And it’s how you react and how you move forward when unexpected things happen that are the signs of how strong you are.
So here’s to the last month of Marathon training, and the beautiful satisfaction of knowing I can finally check that box!