Something was awry in my marathon training. Not in the marathon training schedule, but in the performance of every single one of my runs. Since my last 20 mile run over the Labor Day weekend, every single one of my runs have been sluggish, laborious, or just straight out unpleasant. There were a couple of long runs where I even questioned whether I wanted to go through with the marathon and couldn’t comprehend why on Earth I was putting myself through this. It wasn’t until this week that it became clear to me why. First though, let’s take it back to where my conscious struggle began.
Seven Weeks Out
After I did my 20 mile run in the Oregon Coast, I had a 16 mile run scheduled for my long run. Woke up on the morning of Saturday September 12th and I had ZERO motivation to run a mile let alone 16. For the most part, I’ve always found the long slow run exciting because there really is a feeling of runners high that occurs within me. On this particular day though, I was apathetic to everything and anything related to running. And so, instead of completing my run early in the morning like I typically do, I waited. And waited. And waited. I found every excuse in the book to postpone my run. It wasn’t until I exhausted every single excuse in the book of runners who procrastinate that I reluctantly put on my running outfit, my running shoes, my hydration vest, sunscreen, and visor. While I have proclaimed many a times how much l love running when it’s hot, the temperature at the time was 90 degrees despite the fact it was already 5:30 PM! I tried to shake off the funky mood I found myself in and thought perhaps it’d be gone after a couple of miles, but the temperature wasn’t dropping and my mood only got worse with each progressing mile. And because my body can’t seem to function properly when I’m in a negative state of mind, my pace got increasingly slower. With both the mind and body being in cahoots to sabotage the run, all I had left was shear will and determination, but it was definitely inferior to the voices of negativity that gained control of my body. Despite the fact I made a strong attempt to move faster and faster, my body felt like heavy lead and the setting sun that accompanied my vexatious run brought darkness in such haste that I felt like I was standing still while everything around me was spinning. It took two hours, fifty-nine minutes and nine seconds to complete this run. At that point, it was the most taxing run I had ever had on my training schedule.
Six Weeks Out
It should have been a given that my body was not going to be able to complete 18 miles, but I knew that if I at least did not attempt to run them, I would go to bed with the “What if” feeling. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! I should have listened to my body when it said, “I don’t feel good at all. I just want to sleep and rest.” After fighting it out for two hours, thirty-six minutes, and eight seconds and only having covered 12.67 miles, I waved the white flag and accepted my body could no longer continue. While I was disappointed, I was also extremely relieved. This was my third straight day of hacking up a lung on very little sleep and a lower intake of calories from feeling so sick. After my husband picked me up, I ate a light meal, took a warm shower and went straight to bed. I slept for almost ten hours, which is 3.5 hours more than I sleep per night!! Looking back on this, I really should have stayed home and allowed my body the opportunity to recover. Lesson learned.
Five Weeks Out
I was given a second opportunity to complete the 18 mile run I was unable to complete the week before, and while I was still not 100% (because I failed to give my body the proper rest), I was actually able to complete the full 18. I was slower than I cared for, but the goal was distance, so I consider this a win.
Four weeks Out
This week marks four weeks left of Marathon Training. I wrote on my running journal how disappointed I have been with my performance this training cycle and how I am having voices of doubt questioning my ability to complete 26.2 miles within a specified amount of time. So I went back and looked at my previous training runs for Eugene Marathon [ that I never got to fully complete]. That’s when I saw it! It was at seven weeks out that I started feeling an uncomfortable dull pain on the arch of my foot. Thinking it was completely acceptable to feel pain while training for a marathon, I dismissed it and continued with my schedules runs. My last long slow distance mile was an 18 mile run, and I ruptured my plantar fascia five weeks before Eugene Marathon. My next scheduled run was supposed to be a 16 miler, but I never got to it. This is when it became clear to me I was subconsciously worried about the final weeks of marathon training given my previous experience. Because it was such a heartbreaking experience to have trained so hard only to never even make it to the starting line, my mind was in a heightened level of anxiety, and the anxiety manifested itself physically in my runs.
The GOOD NEWS
I have made it farther into this training cycle than I did for Eugene Marathon, and while I won’t feel like I will be safe to sing victory until I at least get to the starting line of the Marine Corps Marathon, I think it is safe to say I have gotten a monkey off my back. Have you ever experienced anxiety triggered by a past event that has impeded you from performing at your maximum level? How did you overcome your anxiety?