I have had a lot of time to reflect the last couple of weeks on the trails and I slog my way through my training plan. I have never run more than a half marathon before this plan. I thought I knew what the mental aspects of running and training entailed. I was wrong.
Two weeks ago, I set out to do 16 miles per my plan. I felt good, I hydrated and ate well during the week, and I felt rested and ready.
I started out feeling wonderful. Easy pace, everything felt natural and “in-sync” as it sometimes does. The weather was good. Even my iPod was feeding me good songs. I was feeling so good, I was even thinking that if I just followed my plan this whole marathon training thing has been pretty low stress so far. I was certain this would be a great run.
This feeling lasted 12 miles.
Mile 13, I began being able to hear every step. Clop, clop, clop, I felt like I was plodding along. My back began to tighten up. All of a sudden, I was tired, bored, and hurting. My feet began to ache, my calves began to cramp. Even as much as I hydrated I could not get past this terrible feeling. I tried walking, but this hurt even worse. Not injured, just a bad run! I was 3 miles from my car, so I limped along to finish the run. I finished, tired, sore, and with my confidence severely shaken. I was nearly in tears at the end. From this incredible positive high to the worst I’ve ever felt running inside of 3 miles. What in the world!
I spent the week worrying. Doubting. Not sure what I was thinking. I talked with other runners, reviewed my plan, whined to my friends. Fearing I would for the first time just not be able to do something I want so badly.
I kept to my plan. Ate well, hydrated well. With fear in my heart I set out the next week for my first-ever 20 miles.
It was everything I could have hoped. Started out so low and unsure of myself, and finished on an absolute high. I was giddy! Laughing, probably talking too much, feeling so great I know I could’ve kept going. I did not need to stop at 20, I did because my plan said so. I had started out with no expectations and finished knowing I CAN do this, and I WILL. I think I had to have the bad run to bring me back to earth, to show me this IS a difficult and worthy accomplishment I am striving for, and the work is necessary, and it will pay off. This is running. We that embrace the challenge have been through much no one who hasn’t tried could understand. It’s why we set the goal and keep our eyes on the finish line.