Yesterday was the first day of a new month, so naturally the urge to start fresh kicked in. After about a month off from running and training, broken up only with a few rounds on the spin bike or some low-mileage treadmill run or a workout DVD, I feel ready to get back into training mode. Of the many things I haves learned about life and myself through running marathons, I have discovered that I respond well to direction and routine. I like belonging to a gym that has a class schedule, I like to have a marathon to train for with a set schedule of running distances. I’m not as free a spirit as I thought I was, and that’s okay because discipline comes from the act and not the intention. You have to get out and do the hard work, not just sit there and think about it.
My fifth marathon will be the Minneapolis Marathon on June 1, and I’m very excited for it. So, I downloaded another Hal Higdon marathon training plan (going for the Intermediate 1!), created a spreadsheet to map my 18-week training plan, and logged everything in. When I was finished, I realized that I had somehow miscalculated the number of weeks I had left to train and that my first week should have started LAST week when I was still laying around the house, determined to take full advantage of time off to get my mental and emotional edge back. This panicked me. Obviously, yes, I have a good base (despite taking nearly 4 weeks off) but by the end of my second week, I will have had to already run 11 miles and I don’t feel anywhere near ready to run that distance. I just didn’t want to have to come off a month of rest to rush right into marathon training; I needed to ease back into things, and now here I am a week behind already. It’s just not a good way to start what I hope will be my best year yet with racing and finally getting a 4:00 marathon.
After putting my schedule together, I headed off to the gym and ran 3 miles on the treadmill and walked another 2 at a 3% incline (living in a city that isn’t as walkable as Washington, DC has really killed my mobility). Then I lifted weights for 20 minutes (lunges and bicep curls with a 5-lb weight, 20 squats with a 10-lb weight, 30 deadlifts with a 10-lb weight, 20 dumbbell rows with a 10-lb weight, 20 chest flies with a 10-lb weight, and 100 50-lb leg presses plus 30 inverted crunches). I went home feeling that hard workout, beast mode-y tired but awesome feeling and walked into my apartment just in time to see the story of Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham in the 1997 Kona Ironman. If you’ve never seen this video, take a second to watch because it’s just…wow. WOW.
After seeing those women persevering at the very definition of shutting down, after seeing them literally fight with every ounce of their beings, after witnessing the birth of the phrase “crawl if you must,” all I wanted to do was get back to training and train harder than I’ve ever trained to run before because, at my fifth marathon, I have to ask myself, “What am I doing this for?” I don’t want to win but I’ve just never pushed myself past the point of breaking down. No race has ever been TOUGH (well, marathon #4 was but I do remember letting myself off the hook and just being okay with finishing when the first 10 miles that I ran would have put me at a 4:30 finish). And when I think about what all of this is for, I have to ask, “When am I going to allow myself to get better?”
So, I have a goal for Minneapolis to finish in four hours. I’m going to work as hard as I can, stay as true to my training schedule as I can, and stop being afraid of that scary moment when it feels like your lungs will burst and your heart is racing and you start wondering if this is going to be the end of everything. Most of the time, the answer is yes.