Week Nine: Chicago Marathon Training

Best run in awhile. This run gave me confidence that I have what it takes to get to the finish line in Chicago.

Two weeks ago, I didn’t run at all. This last week, I ran 11.5 miles. It’s nowhere near close to the mileage I need for a decent week of marathon training, but I ran. I ran strong, I ran joyfully and with a sense of determination I hadn’t felt in a long time. It got hard at times as I felt the impact of having lost some of my physical and cardiovascular base over nearly four lost weeks of training.

I hear myself telling people that I haven’t been able to train hard this month and yet I still have high hope that I will finish the Chicago Marathon in October. The answer I get is, “Okaaaaayy.” The problem with explaining to people why you run is that they somehow think you are trying to become an elite runner. They can’t understand why you do it so much, why you push so hard. They hear that you’re injured and think that it’s time to find something else to do or that your time as a runner is over. Like they know you better than you know yourself after the hours of alone time you’ve had with yourself on the trail. I can’t understand that pessimism at all and it’s infuriating because it’s really just a nice way of saying, “I don’t think you have what it takes.” As a runner, you really have to know how to push those comments out of your head and know who you are.

Beautiful sunset by the Alexandria Marina. Do you think I could have seen this if I had stayed on my couch? SHOW UP.

Running really shows you that you need to be true to yourself. It puts you in touch with who you are when it gets hard or seems impossible. It forces you to introduce yourself to you. Do I always want to go run? No way! Finishing a marathon is a glorious feeling but training for it is boring as hell: it’s hours of ‘I’d rather be…’ and you don’t always remember that feeling of sailing across the finish line, but you know it’s coming and you have a goal to meet. So you gotta find another reason to do it. Running is not all hard-core, grinding out, beast mode: it’s quiet time on nature trails when you dream about your life, sort out your problems at work, mend a broken heart, make plans with your friends. All of those trails are where I wrote grad school papers in my head, thought about why I want to apply to law school, dreamt about where my career is headed, paused on the side of the road to cry when my heart was broken, made budgets and meal plans, dreamed about skydiving or my next vacation. So, when people say that I should quit running, it hits me on a deeper level than my capabilities. Especially over something as insignificant and fixable as hip instability. I run because I want to show myself up, prove to myself that I’m as good as who I dream I can be, but I also run because it gives me a sense of grace about myself, too. I prefer to be an idealist because disappointment is much easier to handle than never knowing.

Shutting down the pool after a successful 1400 yard swim and a 500 yard water run.

While I have been recovering, I’ve been in the pool a lot lately. It’s not running but it’s something. I’ve discovered that swimming laps is incredibly therapeutic. You don’t have music in your ears– it’s just you and your thoughts. It forces you to move on. If you don’t, you may drown and that sucks. It also forces you to be okay with your limits because you’re that close to the line. I’ve had to slow down when I’ve gone out too fast because, in between laps, I either haven’t sucked in enough air or water got in my mouth and threatened to choke me as my head goes back under the water as I move forward to the end of the lane where I can catch my breath. It also shows you how strong you are because you are actively pushing water out of your way to move ahead. Also, without being injured, or having access to a lap pool, I may have never discovered how awesome water jogging can be. Something about running in water makes you feel unbeatable. The feeling of my quads burning as I slice through 3 feet of water is like running with a force field around you that mows down everything in your path. I’ve just ordered my first pair of aqua shoes so I can keep water running a part of my fitness regimen. I don’t care much that I probably just aged myself a decade or three by saying that. Haters gon’ hate. 🙂

So, how do I plan to fix this? Well, I’m taking one day at a time with training. My PT suggested doing cardio activities on days that I would have a lower mileage run so I can get my base back up. I have to keep my mileage low this week because going from almost nothing to double digits is asking for more trouble. But I’m looking at ways to get my training back on track and aiming to run a few long runs in September. The long, long runs are as far ahead as I am looking right now. I intend to keep visiting my PT through September, or at least until the problem seems to have gone away. Just after one session, I can feel a major difference in my walking. It’s still painful, so I know I need help, but it’s not wincing pain like it was last week.

All in all, I feel like I am on the right track. And that’s right where I need to be.

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