Normally I think up topics for blog posts while I’m out on my runs. Week 5 was going to be about the gear I run in, but the weekend got away from me and the week was…well, distracting to say the least, and I never wrote a post for week 5. So this week’s challenges brought up the topic of persistence. We’ll save gear for another week.
I feel like given everything that happened this week, this is an apropos topic. I’ll save the political rhetoric for another post. This is about persistence in marathon training.
Persistence: “Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.”
This week gave me plenty of excuses not to run. The tequila fueled kick-too-the-chest that was our presidential election set me back a day and one fewer hour of daylight in the evening is throwing a wrench in my after-work runs. The excitement of marathon training has worn off by week 6 and waking up at 6am on a Saturday to make these longer runs can feel more like a chore than fun. But I can’t quit, even on half a run. I promised myself and I promised friends that I would do this for them.
Gathering the motivation to run is one thing. I honestly considered napping in the parking lot of the trailhead this morning. Once you get out there, though, especially on a day like today where the weather was cool and the clouds stuck around to keep the heat off for the end of the run, the motivation is not lacking. The first few miles feel good. For these long runs that I’ve been running on my own, I’ve been implementing what I have dubbed a bowtie loop. That is starting in the middle of the trail and running an out-and-back in one direction, refueling at the car, then running an out and back in another direction. It works great to maintain for water levels and nutrition on these longer runs without the need to drop aid stations at road crossings along the trail. The downfall is that halfway through you find yourself back at the car. Oh how easy it would be to just hop in and call it a day.
Ten miles into a 17 mile run today my legs were exhausted and my hips were aching as I came into my refueling break. I thought missing my kinda-long run on Wednesday and moving my long run from Saturday to Sunday had really thrown my rhythm off and I didn’t have it in me. But I rested, I stretched, I refueled and off I went for 7 more miles. I took a couple of short walking breaks to stretch my hips and I not only made my distance, but I ran the last 3.5 miles around marathon pace instead of the 60 seconds per mile slower that I usually pace my long runs. These are the runs where mental fortitude is just as important as physical strength.
There will be times in training where your body objects, the weather objects, your schedule objects, or you mind objects. All you can do is prepare as best you can and persist.
For me as a runner, these challenges can be difficult to overcome. Ultimately, though, I brought this on myself. Some of us are fighting and persisting through challenges far greater. Challenges that they were not given a choice whether to accept or not. That's why I built this website. As Lindsay and her family persist through her breast cancer treatment, they could use all the support they can get to help them through it.