Current State of Running + Why I Run Marathons

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I drafted so many posts the last 4-5 weeks with updates on running, but each time, I was hesitant to share the progress I had been feeling because I didn’t know if it was permanent. I didn’t want to come here and shout that I was feeling great to only feel like garbage two or three days later.

Even now, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’m finally on the road to recovery. It’s two full months since Boston – 60 days. Almost 9 weeks. I had what I guess you can call my best week of running post-Boston last week. 44 miles with a whooping 13 mile long run. I know it doesn’t sound like much, especially when Timehop reminded me this morning that I ran a 63+ mile week one year ago. BUT, it is a huge improvement for me – given how I have been feeling the last two months.

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To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% sure what caused me to feel the way I did (and still do to a lesser degree). I think it was a combination of a whole lot of things – nutrition, lack of sleep, back-to-back-to-back tough, breakthrough cycles. And so I’ve been working hard to get those things back in check. Vitamins every day. More sleep at night. Naps on the weekend. Lots of rest and recovery.

The truth is I still feel drained often – and so I’m hesitant to try to start training or increasing mileage significantly b/c I know I’m not 100%. There’s a very good chance I may not do a fall marathon. The time, energy and sacrifice (by my family) needed for me to be properly trained to even run a marathon is too much to just sign up and run one half-a$$ed.

I had a conversation with Lindsey last weekend about this topic. She was interviewing me for her amazing podcast – I’ll have Another – and we got to talking about what we love most about training and running races “for fun”. I think when I say I don’t run marathons for fun it might get misinterpreted. Marathons ARE fun. Running the marathon is the celebration and exclamation point after a training cycle. But I’ll never be the type of runner to run a marathon for a medal or to say I ran “x” number of marathons. That doesn’t bring me happiness.

Training hard is what brings me happiness. That feeling after a tough workout that you smashed. Or that feeling when you have a breakthrough race. Or that feeling when your entire body is sore from a hard, long run.

THAT is why I run marathons.

I love the process. I love the cycle. The race is secondary to me. So for me to skip that part of training and just do the race eliminates where I get all my pride, satisfaction and happiness.

So I’m hesitant to sign up for a fall marathon without knowing completely that I can train the way I want to train – which is all out, hold nothing back sort of training.

Right now, I’m signed up for a few half marathons (RnR Brooklyn, RnR philly and RnR Vegas!) as well as a 10 miler and 5k. There’s also a small chance I might be pacing a friend to a BQ attempt (THAT is fun and exciting for me!) in October, but not definite yet.

I think we get into this mindset that we have to do a marathon each fall and spring. I know I am just as much to blame when it comes to this. I am finding that I almost have to convince myself that it’s okay to skip a season – or year – or years.

But, I’m hopeful that I am slowly moving in the right direction in regards to how I am feeling. I did my first speed workout in 3 weeks this morning and it went much better than I expected.

2 mile warmup, 12 x 1:00 on, 1:00 off, 2-3 mile cooldown

No set paces for the workout – focus was on working hard and getting some turnover back in the legs. I did the whole workout on the main road where I do most of my running – there are some gradual hills in both directions which I love – it forces me to get used to faster running on hills.

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I definitely recommend a fartlek-type workout like this if you are looking to resume speed work or if you are just beginning. It’s a great way to work on some faster running without feeling so tied to paces or set distances. Just run hard for 30 seconds or a minute and then recover slowly (most of my recovery paces were upper 8s or low 9s) before doing it again.

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    5 thoughts on “Current State of Running + Why I Run Marathons

    1. I’m so glad to hear you are feeling a bit better. You have SO much on your plate and are near superhuman sometimes with all you manage to fit in. Our bodies always tell us when we need to slow down or take a break. Nice speed workout. Informal intervals like that are my favorite because they feel less overwhelming. xoxo
      Jesica @rUnladylike recently posted..A Confession and Revelation from the TreadmillMy Profile

    2. I’ve been on a medically-induced break from marathoning for over a year now, and I totally understand the self-imposed pressure to race a marathon every spring and fall. It’s so hard for me to just “run for fun” day after day. But we need to remember that life/health always comes first, and there will always be another marathon. It’s ok to define ourselves by our past accomplishments, with the knowledge that there will be more accomplishments in the future.

    3. This is great news! I’m glad you are being cautiously optimistic and very realistic about training for a marathon. I agree with you 110% about not running for fun so you need to be all in, which means your family does too. Good for you for taking the time to really decide what is best, knowing everything that goes into it!

      I also have to say that I almost jumped out of my seat when I read you’re doing RnR Vegas b/c I am too!!!!! woot woot! A meet up is a necessity!!
      Allie recently posted..My Top 3 Fitness Motivators of the MomentMy Profile

    4. I’m sorry you aren’t feeling 100% just yet! Don’t forget the mental and physical toll that commuting and working is taking on your body, which is a big difference from where you were 1 year ago! Even if you love your day job and it is fulfilling and worthwhile, it is intensely draining to deal with the logistics of commuting, fitting your training in around it, and also being present with your family.

    5. A fellow student just asked how to get started with speed work, specifically stating that she tends to get injured easy. I recommended a fartlek for the very reasons you said you liked it – great for just getting the legs moving without feeling like you have to hit a specific pace, and it can be as long or as short as you feel like your body can handle at the moment.

      I’m with you on not really wanting to run marathons for fun – I love to train hard for a race and see how I can push myself. I’ve run a second marathon in a season (4-5 weeks after my goal race) if I just want to run a race. I’ve specifically done this with NYC and Big Sur, although those races were only ten minutes off my PR time, so it’s not like I was taking it really easy! There’s nothing wrong with backing off from the marathon and perusing a fast half or even 5k or 10k – sometimes your body (and family/work/life) need that, and the speed you pick up in shorter distances may even help you in the marathon when/if you go back to it.
      Susan – Nurse on the Run recently posted..2016 Mini 10K Race ReportMy Profile