Remember how I said I decided I’d run a spring AND a fall marathon in 2014? I’m currently training for the Providence Cox Marathon on May 4, 2014.
And see, I’ve never actually trained for a marathon during the winter before. Two years ago I was coming back from injury, and last year I was building my mileage up for a fall marathon.
Consistency wasn’t an issue for me, though – even with snow and cold. In fact, my favorite run last year was the day after a blizzard, when I strapped on Jeff’s yaktrax and went out to play in the snow. I had an 8 mile run that was sheer joy in the snow; I got to stop and talk with people shoveling. It was amazing, and freeing, and relaxing, and meditative.
I loved that run with big fat pink puffy hearts.
I haven’t had a run like that since, though. And this training cycle, my winter blues started two weeks ago, when it was snowing and I had to run a 5 miler, with 2×15 minutes at my goal marathon pace. It was a tough workout, but I nailed it, so I felt pretty good when I got home. Except then I had a 10 mile run that weekend, with 4 miles being at GMP. And this time, I didn’t bring yaktrax, because it was two days after the snowstorm, and OF COURSE they had plowed the roads well enough, right?
Yeah, not so much. That run was 8 miles of snow and slush and the negative temps and wind chill and my marathon pace miles had me actually crying with frustration.
It’s rare that I loathe every minute of a run, but that’s exactly what happened that day.
In hindsight, I should have either run a treadmill, or given myself an out on the pacing – (aka: slowed it down). I did neither, and I paid for it that night – was absolutely knackered for the rest of the day; I basically passed out at 8:30 that night from exhaustion.
Since then, though, every one of my runs has become a huge mental battle for me. It’s like I’ve lost my running mojo. I don’t WANT to go for a run, and when I’m running, I want to quit with EVERY footfall.
I have to use every trick in my toolbox to keep going and get to the next mile.
Last week when I went out for a 4 mile shakeout run, I questioned the whole way. I should just text my coach that I don’t want to do a spring marathon. Why am I doing this? I don’t even LIKE running right now. Why keep pushing? Isn’t one marathon a year good enough? Really, Karen, why the HELL are you trying to do this marathoning thing? It takes away time from everything you need to get done, and you’re overbooked and you keep taking too much on and SOMETHING needs to give. Why not just do a half marathon in the spring instead of all this?
I hate not being able to be in the present on a run.
And I ESPECIALLY hate when my Inner Critic hijacks my runs.
My Inner Critic is right. I would be so easy to say: a spring marathon isn’t for me. I don’t like winter training. I can spend less time running and focus on shorter distance and do that okay. I’m tired and I don’t want to take on too much. I need to simplify my life. It would be easy to decide I’m not going to run a marathon this spring.
But that very decision is why I’m not good at running marathons.
Because the fact is, running a marathon is an exercise in happiness AND pain. It hurts and you ache and you wonder why you’re doing it in the first place. Distance running is about how you get through discomfort to find a place of contentment. Seriously, there are miles where you feel like you’re going to die. And then there are miles where you feel on top of the world.
And I’m not good at pushing through the bad stuff. I get scared, and I panic, and I think, This really hurts and I can’t DO IT.
My Inner Critic takes over and I give up. Like last fall: I didn’t give myself the chance for the marathon to come back to me – I gave up on myself halfway through.
I don’t want to do that again. I want to run the whole thing; I don’t want to stop and walk. I WANT to find the well of strength that helps me keep going when I don’t want to, when it hurts and I’m scared and I don’t shut down and run away from it. I want to accept it, embrace it, and run through it.
Because running marathons is life. So much of life is finding the motivation to keep putting one foot in front of another during the periods where you don’t think you can do it anymore.
So. It’s winter. It’s cold and snowy and I kind of don’t want to keep training.
But I’m going to anyway.