I noticed the change in the light, on August 1st. It started subtle, and now by the 12th it is very distinct. I am looking forward to the change in seasons, but have enjoyed the weeks of summer immensely. I completed my introductory period at a new job, PR’d like crazy at my 4th half marathon, grew new friendships from my muay thai school, put energy into existing friendships that are important to me, spent copious amounts of time outdoors, and have been eating much ice cream. (The work on my house has, essentially, been halted since the temperatures rose to hellish levels.)
In the midst of all these activities, I rediscovered my love of knitting (it had gone missing for the past year) and started training for my first full marathon. I’m about 6 weeks into working with a running coach, and about 15 weeks out from the day of 26.2. I’ve talked about running before and much of those feelings still hold true. At this point, I’ve been committed to this activity for 3.5 years, consistently – since the end of my last long-term relationship. At this point, I’ve completed 4 half marathons, a 5 miler or two, and more 5ks than I can remember right now. It seemed about time for a new challenge, and though I knew it would be mentally difficult, the motivation lull of last week still hit me like a ton of bricks.
At 6 weeks in, my long run this past Sunday should have been an even 10 miles. Last week was a hard one, mentally and physically. I have been struggling with lower energy as the weekly mileage ticked upwards, but finally reached a breaking point. There was just no gas in the tank. I took this hard, and took naps instead of running my shorter maintenance runs, and felt pretty low in general about the whole thing. I managed to drag myself to a couple muay thai classes (my cross training for marathon training), but barely. I was still committed to getting that 10 miles in, as the long runs are the most important. Since I was up in my hometown, I had to cobble together a route that was familiar from my childhood (so I don’t get lost) but is also not completely boring (I grew up in the suburbs, so…). It was a roller coaster of “this isn’t so bad..” and “oh my god, I can’t even with this…” over and over. Halfway through I had to stop for a cold sugary drink to get some sort of boost, which did help propel me down the only fun part of my run – a quick section of the Leatherstocking Trail. At 6.5 miles, I was cooked. I grumpily trudged up the hill to my parents’ house and stuck my weary legs in their very cold pool. That helped.
I’ve since recovered, mentally and physically. I needed a running confidence booster, which arrived in a lovely and faster-than-my-usual-pace 3.5 miles with some pals from my running group (West Philly Runners) last night. I’m probably going to audition a few other evening neighborhood running groups in other parts of the City to keep that safety net of running-with-friends-is-better-than-solo, for non West Philly Runner nights. To tackle the food issue and the making sure I’m eating enough, I’m back to trying to figure out power punches of snacks that are made ahead of time and always available, so that I don’t bonk hard.
I guess the upside is, it took 6 weeks of running increasing distances and going to muay thai class before I hit training fatigue. Hopefully my next motivation lull can be swiftly and easily remedied, without as much of a hit to my mental and emotional selves.
(Oh, and I figure actually writing some of this training stuff down would be a good idea since I’m sure that after I complete this first full marathon I’ll be attempting a 50k ultra right away. Cause even though I still don’t love running, I’m somehow also at the same time in love with the challenge of it. What’s that about?)