My long run on Saturday did not go well for several reasons – some trivial, but some very real. I felt weak and ill. It happens, and I’m not beating myself up over it, but it also led me to realize that I was feeling mentally weak and ill, too.
This training cycle has been hard. My experience at Wisconsin took a lot out of me — perhaps more than I understood. It shook my confidence. It reminded me that visualizing something doesn’t mean doing something. It brought doubt into an equation that previously only contained naivete and optimism. On top of that — perhaps, because of that — I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself. I’ve been worrying about what I’m “supposed” to do, and focusing so intensely on the restrictions and the regulations, that I lost sight of the process. More specifically, I lost sight of the PROGRESS. Running had become mentally taxing in a way that a hobby never should.
You may accomplish great feats, but tomorrow they will be forgotten. Tomorrow, you'll be measured by how you treat others. #humanrace—
Hillary (@HillarySpeaks) September 09, 2013
Even the workouts that go well — the speed work that I really, truly love, and generally feel so great about — have led me to view running a a second job, not a release from my REAL one. Last Wednesday, I had an amazing track workout (and I mean amazing — I nailed this thing) during which I was so controlled and I was so focused on logging my splits, that I didn’t even begin to shake out the work day stress (and there was a lot of it). Hours after leaving the office, I stood in the shower, shampoo in my eyes as I stared into the tile, only then actually decompressing. In an ideal world, my runs would be that decompression time. It’s hard not to read into the fact that they’re not.
I walked the last four miles of my abbreviated effort on Saturday, and talked with the Guy about how I was feeling — about training and the race. I questioned whether I even cared, whether I was prepared, and whether I really wanted this. I started tearing up a bit as I briefly questioned whether I should even run Grand Rapids. I talked about lining up at the start, and all of the things that go into those moments right before the starting gun when you’re staring down your training plan; when you’re thinking about a particularly hard workout, or a motivating breakthrough; or wondering where to position yourself. The moment when shirts and hats, and empty water bottles going sailing over the crowd in anticipation of the gun, and things go a little quiet as the enormity of the task at hand starts to sink in. I realized, in those tears, that I DID want to run it. What I was experiencing was simply a need for a break from the structure, schedule, and pressure I had so unquestioningly hoisted onto my own shoulders.
I took Sunday off. While a seriously abbreviated peak week isn’t ideal, it was something I felt I had to do. Instead of worrying about when I could fit a run in, I slept in a little later. I ate crepes upon crepes upon crepes without worrying about how that would impact a later run. I went shopping, and I ate sushi, and I soaked in the normalcy of a weekend outside of training. Every fiber of my being had been concentrated on training, but very little of it had been concentrating on enjoying it. As far as mileage, the last few weeks haven’t been ideal by any stretch of the imagination. While I made a point to try and focus on achieving a healthy balance of life and work and training this year, I’ve been drowning in my own efforts. The stress of a seriously full and intense work schedule has been incredibly hard on me – and while I understand that it pales in comparison to the juggling of others, it was a pretty big shock to my system. My system likes likes order and routine, and “squeezing things in” often leaves me with paralyzing anxiety. With those weeks behind me, the near future should allow a shift back to normalcy on all, if not most, accounts. Next week, I’ll be taking some much needed vacation time, and enjoying a full-on “taper-cation” with the Guy. I’m really looking forward to the change in scenery, hopeful that it will help to jump start the excitement and passion for running that I know I possess.
At the end of the day, I’m trying to tell myself that this marathon will be what it will be… whether it will be a PR or whether it will be a BQ or whether it will be anything close to any of those things is kind of irrelevant at this point. None of this is due to my training plan, the efforts by Coach Abby, or the training cycle itself. I don’t want to reflect poorly on her abilities. Rather, I’ve accumulated too much metaphorical lactic acid. The past 12 months have been one giant tempo run. This is 100% a Hillary issue.