I woke up Sunday morning amped about my long run in my half marathon training schedule. My training schedule called for 12 miles, which is the longest run until the race. I have reached week 7 of my 10 week schedule and in the next few weeks leading up to the race, my runs are a bit shorter. Because Sunday’s run would’ve been the closest distance I will run to 13.1 before the big day, it was my opportunity to test out my pre-run meals, clothing, chews or gels, and gauge where I am in my timing. So with great anticipation, I prepped delicious oats and half a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, picked a good Slacker Radio Station on my phone (lately, my running mix has been courtesy of the Of Monsters and Men Slacker station), and headed out for my half marathon test run.
Mile 1 went by with ease in 8 minutes and 49 seconds.
Mile 2 was similar.
Mile 3 slowed down a bit to 9 minutes 37 seconds.
Then things got ugly. My legs felt like lead and my ab workout from Saturday left my core, especially my hip flexors, too fatigued to traverse the hilly neighborhoods I had chosen. By Mile 6 I was at a 10 minute 15 second pace and negative thoughts about my ability to even finish a race started to creep in. By the time I got to 10.5 miles, I was walking frequently and my mind and legs were on fire. I was worried if I continued to push with poor form I would injure myself and that would really put a wrench in training.
I finished the run at 10.8 miles and an hour and 50 minutes. I felt defeated and frustrated about my time and my inability to finish. I was angry and immediately began to go through all the ways I may have messed up in the last 7 weeks. After the anger and frustration subsided, I realized mentally beating myself up was not going to help me improve my running or prepare for this race. What would help, however, was reflecting on things I might do differently before a long run.
- Sleep: I worked until 3am that morning, and although I slept for 8 hours, it was still not my normal sleep schedule. My work schedule has really been throwing me off, leaving me exhausted during my work week and I can definitely feel a difference in my natural energy level on the nights that I can go to bed at a more reasonable time (10pm). The few days and night before the half marathon, I will not be working so I can get sleep at the times that feel most natural to my body.
- Exercise: I missed a 4 mile run on Friday of that week, so I moved it to Saturday and decided to do sprints during those 4 miles. I also did p90x Ab Ripper X prior to that run. When I woke up Sunday, I had the usual soreness in my core from doing those workouts. This soreness, however, was just enough to make my muscles fatigued quickly and I learned my lesson in taking rest days before a long run. The day before the half marathon, I certainly will not be doing any strenuous exercise.
- Inner Peace: When I started to slow down on Sunday, my mind immediately filled with thoughts of self-doubt. I thought about how “unprepared” I was and I recounted all the miles I might have missed in the last 7 weeks and which muscle groups I should have been strength training. I truly believe these thoughts made me quit long before my legs were ready. It wasn’t until I was home and stretching that I was able to think about the multitude of positive changes I have seen in my body and my fitness. I realized that taking time to appreciate how far I have come already will be the most important thing I do as I finish training and run that race in 3 weeks.
When I started to take stock of all the progress I have made, I remembered that just one week prior, I had completed the Portland Shamrock 15k (9.3 miles) SIX MINUTES and 18 SECONDS faster than I did in 2012. That is a huge improvement! Also, I was upset about not finishing 1.2 miles on Sunday after already running 10.8. When I put things into perspective, I felt a little ridiculous about being such a downer on myself, and started to appreciate the hard work I have been putting in to my fitness and health. This appreciation led to a new confidence in my ability to not only complete this upcoming race, but dominate it!
Don’t forget to appreciate your accomplishments, no matter how big or small, and continue to look forward to just how far you’ll go.
With love ❤