Training for five half marathons in five days was a huge step out of my running comfort zone. When I’m not injured, my usual weekly average is 20 miles. Prior to this adventure, I’d usually only barely make my 100 mile a month goal. During this training, I peaked at 50 miles and ran more than 180 miles in January. Pushing myself like this has taught me a lot about myself and my running.
1. My mind is stronger than my body. I ran a lot of uncomfortable miles. Sometimes everything ached. Sometimes it was just my metatarsal issue that has not been completely solved. I ran on tired legs. I ran on cold days. I ran on cold days in the rain. But right up until I hurt myself, I hit my goal mileage every.single. week. I may not have always enjoyed it, but I did it. And I’m proud of that.
2. Running too many miles is not good for my mental state. While I’m proud of what I did, there were times throughout the training that I realized this wasn’t for me. Running is my anti-depressant and on days when I had to run long and wasn’t into it, running did not help my mental state. It’s also not a good thing for me when running adds stress to my life, rather than acting as a stress release.
3. High mileage = high weight for me. This is the third time in the last five years that I’ve trained for something more than a half marathon. And every single time, I’ve gained weight. I’d love to say it’s muscle, but my jeans don’t fit, so I doubt that’s the case. While weight/size is not the main reason I run, it is definitely a part of it. I don’t like feeling uncomfortable in my own skin and I’m there right now. I’m looking forward to returning to “normal”running and knocking off a few of these pounds.
4. I miss my “free time”. One hour a day of focused working out fits in my life without issue. More than that and I find myself giving up sleep or other leisure activities. I’m not a tv watcher, so it’s difficult to combine running with other leisure activities. I did figure out how to read my kindle while on the treadmill, but somehow that makes reading less enjoyable and doesn’t really make a dent in my dislike of the ‘mill.
5. My body talks. I need to listen. Even if you disregard my injury, my body was very clear on when I needed to cut back. I didn’t plan cutback weeks, but rather waited until I felt like I needed one. And every 2-3 weeks, my body made it clear that I needed to take a little break. Listening to it when it spoke is what got me as far as I got in my training without injury. (And I blame the injury on a bad shoe choice. It was the third time I wore those shoes and the first two I’d had other tweaks happen. I should have paid more attention. And I should have plopped my rear on the curb and called my husband to pick me up as soon as my calf hurt. Hindsight = 20/20, sigh.)
In the end, I’m glad I did this. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my running. I’ve found my mileage “sweet spot” and it’s higher than I would have guessed at 30-40 miles per week. I’m not sure I’ll try to push beyond that again, even if I do decide to run some back to back halves in the future. For now, the idea of another marathon has been tabled until I can fix my foot. It’s just not worth risking a permanent injury. Now to just enjoy a few more days of light running and then a week of a lot of time on my feet. And then, I think running and I are going to take a short hiatus.
What have you learned about yourself during a recent training cycle? Share your words of wisdom with me.