On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I don't want to be serious, but I have to

In the two weeks since the Chicago Marathon, I've run all of two times.

That's right - 14m total.

I haven't even worn my Chicago t-shirt yet.

That race defeated me.  I knew I wasn't fully trained, and I know the conditions were bad, but I expected more of myself and I didn't feel good about how it all went down.  Instead of channeling this into renewed dedication about New York, I instead sat on my couch drinking beer and watching the Yankees.

And we know where that got me.

On one hand, I had a 26m training run and I'm enjoying a 4-week taper.  I'm ready for New York.

On the other hand, my 26m training run was basically a dead loss and I'm discouraged and disillusioned and not where I wanted to be by any stretch.

I guess all of this behavior makes me ready for the upcoming Unhealthy Living Summit.  But that's (obviously) a small recompense.  Remember back at the beginning of my training cycle when (naively) thought I could maybe possibly be in PR shape come marathon day?

I picked myself up this weekend and actually did get outside for a run, so now I guess that I'm officially tapering.  I'm not sure what's happening with me, though.  The weather? Perfect for running.  In theory, I should be having the best runs of my life.  Every morning I wake up and get excited.  In my head, I can see the calm river, I can feel myself having an amazing run.  Most mornings I even put on my running clothes.  But then I just don't get out the door.  I don't know how to explain it.

Sure, I've had a lot going on in my personal and work lives, things that have bled over into my running time.  But this has nothing to do with time for running and is mostly psychological.  Where is my motivation?  Why do I do this?  I'm not improving and I don't feel the same sense of excited anticipation the rest of my friends seem to be experiencing.  I'm too young - and too desperately in need of improvement! - to burn out this easily!

It'll get better.  It does; having been running for a decade has shown me that motivation comes and goes. But I'm ready for the upswing.


  1. Running has its ups and downs. I guess you're in one of the 'downs' at the moment. That upswing will hit you sooner than you'll expect it to, though! I'm sure about that! And please do keep in mind that the Chicago weather on marathon day was awful. You will kick that marathon's butt in NYC!

  2. Post-marathon blues.

    Its not like you can cram for New York at this point, so just enjoy the downtime. All will change once you are smacked with the in-your-face pageantry of the NYCM.

  3. So, would you say that my plan to try to squeeze in a 20 later this week is a bad one?

    Just kidding.

  4. i hate the post marathon, post everything blues. sounds like you have a case of something similar! no long runs! continue taper!!!! ;)

  5. You had a hard race, you need a race in between to redeem your spirits! MCM offer still stands, but maybe you can find a local race you can jump in during this time, just so your last race memory since Chicago is a good race, not a "I might just die" one?

  6. Maybe this is cynical but sometimes when I read all the excited people, I think they are trying to pump themselves up but being overly excited.

    I think we are all tired one way or another and maybe scared and anxious too (well, I am in any case) but don't want to admit it, or feel we should be all fine. We've been training for many months now, hard, even if not perfect. Anyway, that's what my trainer tells me, and I believe her even if I get crazy worried too :)

  7. Yeah, right there with you. I mostly want to just curl up in the fetal position with a bottle of vodka, which isn't helping matters at all. Then I go out and attempt to run and end up thinking about work which usually means hyperventilating. Or something.

    Unfortunately I think the huge mental aspect of marathoning isn't easy to shake off when you had a bad day. It's a form of PTSD. PMSD? Damn. I don't like that abbreviation.

  8. Didn't you also just learn that you're anemic? Have you thought about that as a factor? I've found that when my ferritin stores get really low, my running mojo is just completely gone. I don't much feel like running, then even when I force myself to go out, the entire run drags, so it's a vicious circle.

    Of course, there's always simple explanations like burnout and post-marathon blues and life in general getting in the way...

  9. Thank you guys!
    Carla, I'd be there in a second if I wasn't going to be in New Hampshire this weekend - but I'm doing a half up there, so hopefully it will help.

    Angry, I did buy two bottles of sparkling wine in with my last batch of groceries. That wasn't unusual, but my plan to drink them both in one evening is (I'm by myself these days).

    And Judy - that's genius!! My ferritin has been low for a while, but recently my normal blood iron plummeted, too. I guess it's time to take my supplements again...

  10. I hear you. Two of the reasons I did a half on Sunday were the pre-race taper and the post-race recovery. Who runs a race primarily for the purpose of avoiding training runs?!?

    Hang in there. The work is done. You did A LOT of running in the miserable heat of the summer. That work is banked away and will be ready for use during the marathon.

    Have you run NYC before? Apologies, but I should know this. If not, let's talk about how to stay warm at the start line. I go a bit overboard, but damn if I know how to stay warm in a field in November, surrounded by wafer thin people to my left and the world's longest urinal to my right.

  11. Never done NYCM before. So lay all your warmth strategies on me, and we'll pretend that there's no chance my weather back luck will continue to another race(it's 73 degrees here in NYC today).

  12. Weeee! Your blog is making my blog popular today!

    Hang in there. I've read more than a couple similarly themed blogs about Chicago so you're not alone, if that makes you feel any better. But I also know how it feels to have a crummy race and no amount of shared misery helps.

    All I can say is shut up, pour yourself a stiff one and get back on that horse. Not all at the same time, though.

  13. I hate these downs in running too :( I go through some periods where I just want to sit on my butt. Okay, that is every day. Maybe gearing up for the last two weeks of training will get you excited?

  14. I have so much to say. You're burned out, and you have been for a little while. Still, you sign up and race everything that comes your way, to the point of hurting yourself (Chicago). You are more committed to racing than you are to training. That isn't a bad thing. It is just a decision that you make. If you figure out what kind of runner you are, and can mesh them with your goals, all will be good.

    For now? Get up and run. Yeah, you ran Chicago when you should have just logged a training run, but you don't get to say "oops" at this point. Run hard this week. Run that 20K. Run. Don't give yourself the option to not run. This is your show. Bring it.

  15. You're right, Sarah, you're VERY right. I am absolutely going to take a break from racing after all this. You've perfectly explained how it is that I'm enjoying running, and yet am burnt out at the same time.

  16. Yeek, I'm a little late on this post, but I agree that you just need a little break after the marathon. Then you'll come right back when you're ready and love running even more.

    On the bright side, you're well-rested and when 11/7 comes you'll feel good! Plus, it's getting so exciting around here - does that get you a little pumped?