Marathon training is hard. It’s physically grueling, time consuming, and not even a necessary part of life. Everyone who does it has their own reasons and I have mine. But, whatever the reasons, the mileage stays the same and everyone training for a marathon has to figure out how to press on – or not.
I took 2 days off after my long run last weekend. I did lunges, squats, kettlebell, and the BodyBlade. And longish walks with my dog, Stella. But nothing that was really very difficult. I was resting. When I went out for some mileage on Wednesday morning, I was struck by how bad I felt, and realized that’s almost always how I feel when I step off the driveway for a run. I noticed tightness in my calves, a strain in my foot, a knot in my right shoulder blade, and just overall fatigue. In the first mile, I thought, “I need to listen to my body – it says it’s tired, this is too much, I should back off.” But, I also remembered that I usually feel better somewhere between 2-3 miles. The first mile isn’t a good gauge. The first mile is just a succession of whiny fake out excuses.
I kept going and told my mind to think about other things besides aches and pains and before I knew it, I was cruising through the 4th mile, warmed up, breathing easily, with a steady cadence, … and comfortable.
I realized that it’s much like other things in life – when faced with discomfort, don’t give up. Check it out. Check in with that discomfort. Try it on for a while. See if you can move through it and get comfortable. Because if you can move through it, you might be able to keep moving and cover a lot of ground. But, then again, sometimes you can’t. Like, last weekend when my IT band got into a fight with my knee and there was no “running through it.” There was only stopping.
But I had a goal this week – I wanted to get past that 18 mile mark that has been eluding me. So, I used that goal as my focus – and I made time to use the roller twice a day, to roll out my feet, to stretch my hamstrings and my hips. And went to a massage therapist (HEAVEN) to really try to loosen up all that tightness. I wanted that 18 miles.
In the meantime, my Super Friend Julie came to visit me for a couple of days. I’m a country girl. She’s a city girl. As in, she hasn’t had any yard work responsibilities in 20 years. So, how especially sweet and exciting was it that she mowed my lawn so that I could fit in time for a training run before it rained? THIS sweet:
Because Julie freed me up to run for an hour, I had a chance to test out my bod after all that therapy work and I was feeling good – feeling like maybe I could get to the 18 this weekend.
As I mentioned in my post last week, friendship is an amazing thing. In Julie’s company, I started to feel better physically, I laughed a lot. We also quietly hung out on the coast near my house and I appreciated the peace of watching the water and giggling at the clams that were spitting at us on the shoreline.
As an aside, one example of how Julie is the greatest kind of friend is how much she loves my dog, Stella. I mean, really, who takes selfies of themselves with someone else’s dog? And lets that dog lick her face??
Julie had to leave me and head back to NYC, but she left me lifted up, leaving me energized, and feeling ready to go after that damn 18 miles. Janet couldn’t run with me this weekend because she was busy going to pick up her new dog! But, Kat was good for 8 miles and was happy to put her 8 into my challenge. So, I ran 5 on my own, picked up Kat in my driveway for the next 8. We kept a steady pace, slow enough that we could talk and catch up. It was really slow for Kat, but she kindly matched my steps instead of leading me into a faster pace that I wouldn’t be able to sustain. After we finished the 8 mile loop, I had 13 miles behind me and continued on to get the next 5.
Usually I need music for long mileage because it helps me keep pace when I get really tired. But, since I had been with Kat, I didn’t have music with me, so I had to soldier into that last stretch without any assistance. I had moments of thinking, “I should stop now before my knee hurts” but it wasn’t hurting, so I kept trotting along. I realized that I might be able to get to 20 miles.
I had two good reasons for stopping at mile 19:
1. I wanted to stop, for real, before my knee hurt. It was so stunning to me that I had made it that far without the knee acting up that I really didn’t want to make it happen.
2. Mile 19 was at my house. For me to get to 20 miles, I would have had to run PAST my house, which was just really hard to do when I had already gone 19. So, the 19 seemed good. I stopped.
I was happy. For dinner, I made this tasty plate of sauteed turkey sausage and kale, melon, corn, and roasted sweet potatoes.
And, just in case you think I’m all righteous with my healthy eating, I finished off the meal with a bowl of ice cream the size of a melon. The size of a watermelon, specifically. Dee-lish.
I have much travel coming up in the next couple of weeks, so I need to figure out how to get the mileage in.