Mulling over the marathon

I make it a habit of worrying about things far in advance. Unfortunately, this often has the effect of obscuring my view of what’s happening right now. Or, rather, what’s going well.

While I’m not yet collecting any PRs at shorter distances this season, I am having a great time running all these races. I still am not yet back to where I was roughly 20 months ago, at least as far as race times are concerned. That is a depressing reality that I try not to dwell on.

I do know that things are looking up in that I do seem to be improving and, perhaps most important, I’m not feeling anywhere close to entering the danger zone of overtraining that I spent so much of last year wallowing in. I was flat out exhausted so much of the time last year that it started to feel normal. After a break I’m realizing that it’s not normal. There’s the regular fatigue that comes with stepping up training, but that you can recover from during a pre-race taper. Then there’s the other kind — a kind of tiredness that settles in and becomes a part of you, then takes months to shake.

It’s only April. Yet I feel at a crossroads as far as the marathon is concerned. I’ve been burned by that lady five times out of my six tries. I really don’t know that I want to sit down and roast marshmallows with her again. Yeah, it’s only April, but if I want to do a fall race during the normal window of fall marathons (Oct/Nov) then that means I have to start getting my training ass in gear around July. That’s 10-12 weeks from now. Not so much time to consider the implications anymore.

From day to day, I swing wildly between wanting to give the long race another go, then realizing that the thought of bombing out again makes me feel physically and spiritually ill. I also can’t get my head around going back to running 90 mile weeks. I just don’t want to. It’s too much running. The more miles I run, the slower I have to run the bulk of them and the harder it is to do my faster workouts. What’s the point? Especially if all roads lead to a crap goal race as the reward.

The fatigue of training, it seems, is not the only thing that lingers. I seem to still be carrying the fatigue of failure and disappointment in my bones. I do know that every time I read someone’s post about the spring marathon they’ve got coming up, I am just so incredibly glad to not be them. That’s got to be telling me something.

These days, as I think about what to do in the fall, I find myself gravitating more and more toward the idea of making the fall a transition back to the full marathon distance in 2011 (assuming I ever go back). This is about all my brain can handle.

Once I’ve concluded my spring fling spent whoring around among various distances and dipping my toe (as I intend to) into crazy ultra relays, track racing and cross-country racing, I could then turn my attention to becoming a very good half marathon racer. It’s a distance that I love — long enough that you’ve accomplished something of significance, but short enough that you can do one every month if you want to.

What if I could run a 1:30 by the new year? Or a 1:26? What if.

11 Responses

  1. It sometimes helps to talk with oneself about stuff like this.

    There’s a Simpsons episode in which Krusty gets fired. His replacement does crank call interviews, to which Krusty shouts at the TV, “Hey, I stole that bit from Steve Allen.” He then gets a crank call and says, “If you’re not Steve Allen you stole this bit from me.”

    All of which goes to “Hey, if you’re not Flo you stole this bit from me.”

  2. IMHO, if you’re not hungry for the marathon yet, then you’re not ready to run another one.

    And I do think marathons are overrated. I really enjoy my running and racing, and I have yet to do one.

  3. Why you think doing a marathon requires 90 miles a week? From what I see, generally a runner who puts in that many miles will be running those paces faster, so is spending less total time training, thus exhaustion isn’t the norm. What about 75 mpw average…not interested?

  4. Joe, lol!

  5. Oh, and if you’re taking votes for your schedule, which you’re not but how fun anyway…sub 1:30 this Fall, then lower next Spring and a Fall marathon, which you’ll be ready to do after those amazing PRs.

  6. 1:26 is yours. Believe it.

  7. The words “so incredibly glad to not be them” said it all. If you’re not totally committed to the idea, then don’t do it. Do what you said in the second last paragraph — that sounds like fun. A useful physical and mental break too — if you come into a 2011 marathon prep as a 1:26 half runner then a fast marathon isn’t so daunting.

    On the marathon plan (when one eventuates), as Flo said, 90-mile weeks aren’t necessary. Something like the Marius Bakken 100 day plan might be looked forward to with enthusiasm and not dread.

    • Ewen, what I like about your posts (besides their perspective, encouragement and humor) is that they usually contain something that I need to add to my reading/research list. I’ll look up Bakken.

  8. Sounds like the 26.2 has gone stale at this point. It might look interesting again after a break, particularly if you get some nice half times. I’ll vote with Flo.

  9. […] the topic, Reasons Not To Run A Marathon. In case you missed it, in addition to Flo, JT has been Mulling Over The Marathon. A few more and we’ll have ourselves a […]

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