Worry, worry, worry – what would I do without it? Between my mini-meltdown during Grandma’s Marathon taper and agonizing over the stops and starts in my delayed build-up for my upcoming marathon, I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t worry.
I’m in the midst of the three “challenge” weeks of my training cycle, when I will have to skimp on mileage and/or miss long runs because of racing, race tapering, and vacation. And I just read Taylor‘s post about how life got in the way of her own marathon training, and I was all, ohhh yes the struggle is real. It’s something that’s caused me a good deal of anxiety lately, especially as I watch others seamlessly continue their mileage build-up while I’m stuck in what feels like the marathon training equivalent of a doctor’s office waiting room – I had the appointment, I showed up on time, so why can’t I get this over with already??
But I was sitting on the bus yesterday thinking it all through and I had one of those “a-ha!” moments. In an incredibly rare circumstance, I had told myself that Tuesday could be a day off but then I changed my mind and WANTED to run that evening. I mean, that never happens. Usually if you give me a rest day you’re going to have to pry it out of my cold dead hands. That feeling of actually wanting to run is such a refreshing change and it stopped me in my tracks with the thought: there are so many good things about my situation right now. Why can’t I just focus on those?
What if I took everything I think is “negative” about my situation and turn it into a positive, and roll with that?
Instead of viewing a race, like the one this weekend, as a “missed long run”, why not focus on how the experience is contributing to my training instead of taking away from it? I get to practice racing, which is invaluable for a marathon. I’m getting a built-in fitness test at a critical stage in my training when I’m wondering how much I’ve recovered from my last marathon and what I can expect going forward. I get to build speed. And more importantly – I get to do what I love and have fun! Isn’t that what this is supposed to be all about?
Instead of being anxious that I’m not getting in the mileage I want right now, why not appreciate the fact that these low mileage weeks are an opportunity for me to work on my speed? I’ve been able to do a lot of fast running lately that I don’t get to do in the thick of marathon build-up. And I’m so focused on the fact that it’s ONLY x amount of miles that I forget that building speed is valuable, too. It enhances my fitness and while it may not impact my marathon performance like high mileage can, it’s still helping me improve in my training. Plus, let’s be honest – it’s a lot more fun! I should remember to enjoy it while it lasts – once my mileage goes sky-high again, gone will be the days when I get to check my splits after a run and regularly see 7:XX miles.
And instead of stressing over the fact that I’m going to miss one long run and probably a bunch of mid-week miles on vacation, why not re-frame this as a crucial chance to let my body recharge and recover? One of the things that all of us runners always forget is that rest and recovery are a part of the cycle, too. We’re so focused on the build-up and workout parts of training that we forget that recovery is training. It’s just as crucial as long runs and high mileage for getting to the starting line ready to race. My build-up and long runs really start to amp up after I get back from the cruise, so won’t it be nice to go into those weeks feeling rested and refreshed instead of exhausted after cramming a bunch of miles into my early weeks when I didn’t need to?
I’ve been obsessing over what I consider a missed opportunity to skip the early parts of build up, take advantage of the base I already have built up from Grandma’s, and jump right back into 45-50 mile weeks. But honestly…why? What’s the point of doing 16-20 mile runs already if I don’t need to yet? Yeah, so, maybe I have to take some steps back and don’t get to spend my entire training cycle in beast mode. So what? Would that really going to contribute to my fitness…or just wear me out and put me in danger of injury and burn-out? Why not savor these last precious few weeks to have more of a life outside of running?
It’s scary how often I forget that my body is not a machine. The idea of more mileage more often sounds great on paper, but all that running takes a serious toll on my body. I will have PLENTY of time after the cruise to get in some killer mileage – I have 2 16-milers, 3 18-milers, and 2 20-milers on the schedule IN ADDITION to two races! I will be FINE. So, taking advantage of some “slow time” now isn’t good just for the reasons I’ve listed above – it’s also a smart, safe thing to do for my health. The strict, finger wagging parent in my head says “you can take a break now when you have the choice, or you can be forced by injury and burn out to take an even longer one later on.”
So, in sum: here’s how I’m going to look at the first few weeks of my training cycle going forward. No ifs, ands, or buts, this is how it is and I will not let anything salt these mellows:
- Racing is a great opportunity for me to see where my fitness is at, set a new PR, build some speed, and HAVE FUN! I love racing!
- These recent lower-mileage weeks are allowing me to have more of a life outside running and do more hard, fast workouts that improve my sheer speed and let’s be honest – I’m loving it!
- I get to go on vacation, which is just awesome in itself, but I’m also so excited for the chance for some R&R in my personal AND my running life. I’m totally high-fiving myself over the fact that after vacation I get to go into my peak training weeks feeling rested, relaxed, refreshed, and recharged and will NAIL those big long runs with all my extra energy!