Ahh, the best-laid plans. After piddling around with zero motivation for the first three months of 2017, I ran-walked a half marathon on the first day of April and walked away feeling like I had finally regained my motivation to train. The weather has gotten better, the days longer, and I was ready to start lacing up more than twice a week so I could have a good half marathon in June and an even better marathon in October. It’s spring and I’m ready!
But then we closed on our house last week, and the week that followed has been jam-packed with work getting ready to move in. Between going to the new house right after work and staying there painting well past my bedtime, and being too mentally and physically tired to get up the next day at 5 AM to run in the morning, I only had time to run twice last week and this week is not looking any better. Actually, this whole month isn’t looking any better, because we won’t be moved in until late April.
2017 is just not my year for running. For the first three months I had tons of time but zero motivation, and now, I have the motivation but no time!
So my running update is really that there is no update, except for the fact that with every week that goes by I am sinking deeper into the quicksand of self-doubt. My mind has been going to some pretty dark places about the Chicago Marathon. The race is just under 6 months away, which sounds like a lot of time, but it’s already mid-April and I haven’t been able to run consistently this whole year. This marathon is one of the only things keeping me from just straight up quitting for a while. If this were any other race, I’d seriously be considering dropping it so that I can take the rest of the year easy, get settled, regroup, and focus on a 2018 marathon instead. But it’s Chicago – if I did that I’d be throwing away $200 and I don’t have the option to drop to a shorter distance. And since I entered via a qualifying time, not the lottery, I don’t have the option to defer my entry (and even if I did I’d still be throwing $200 bucks away).
I really do want to run Chicago but I’m just so behind and I’m not sure how in the world I’m going to be able to pull off a good training cycle/race. We are so busy with moving and getting the house ready that I’m not sure how consistently I’ll be able to run until May – which only leaves me with 5-6 weeks to build a base! I’ve already been such a slacker with running in January-March that I don’t feel like I can just take this month off at this point; I have no fitness built up, so with every missed run and empty week, I just feel like I’m digging myself into a deeper hole.
Not one to pontificate on problems without at least attempting to find solutions, I’ve been mentally compiling a “damage control” checklist that could help me get on the right track for a strong marathon:
- Switch to a shorter distance for the Rock n Sole run.
It very quickly became obvious that I’m not going to be able to log half marathon training mileage in the next couple months. And, frankly, I don’t really want to either; I would much rather wait on those 10-12 milers until I actually need them for marathon training. My current sweet spot of 3-6 miles on weekdays and 6-9 on weekends isn’t quite enough for a half, but is perfect for a quarter marathon, and would still build a decent base for marathon training. Awesome. Done.
- Lengthen my training cycle.
I have been planning on a 16-week training cycle for Chicago, partly because I thought I’d have a decent base built up this spring. 18+ weeks is just such a long time to train for a race, and I don’t want to get bored and burnt out again. But now that I’m so behind in my base-building, I don’t see any other option, so I may be moving my training start date up from June 19 to June 5. The training plan I’m considering is 20 weeks long, which I’m not going to do, but shortening it by 2 weeks seems a lot more legit than trying to take 4 weeks off of it.
- Let go of time goals.
Despite all of my doubts and frustrations, I’m not quite ready to give up on my PR hopes yet; I may be behind, but 18 weeks of structured training is a lot of time to get in shape and regain my speed. I also have the advantage of running on a much easier course than my current PR was set on. But, on the other hand, I need to be mindful of how much I have lost. I haven’t taken another big chunk of time off running, but I am still going 6 months strong on time off from any sort of structured training and fitness-building. So it could take me a long time to get back into a groove with fitness and training, let alone regain my old speed. Now more than ever I am going to have to emphasize qualitative over quantitative goals, process over results, and internal over external motivation. I have to remind myself that all of the things I really want out of this experience – to have a strong race; to get my leaner body and healthier lifestyle back; to see myself making gains and improvement as a result of my hard consistent work – are things I can achieve no matter what my running pace is.
So, that is where I’m at. I don’t typically like to write these complainy, pity-party posts, but I’m also just having a crap day in general today, and it feels kind of good to vent a little.
I really do want to run a great Chicago Marathon and can’t wait to do so, but I am starting to freak out a little bit about this training cycle and it hasn’t even started yet. If you’ve been in a similar position and have any advice, I’d love to hear it.
Have you ever balanced training or base-building with another big life event? How did you make it work?
Have you ever come back to train for a marathon after time off?