For no particular reason, I have felt pretty down all week long. Nothing I whipped up in the kitchen had the WOW-factor I was looking for. Marathon training was hampered by crippling soreness and lead feet. Blaze ate my favorite decorative pillow. Staring down the barrel of an eleven-day work week that was punctuated by one day off, I just felt tired. All the time. All I wanted was a pony keg of Ninkasi’s Total Domination IPA and a dozen freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Not even last night’s arrival of the August Vogue could pull me out of the slump. I woke up this morning with a fleeting vision that I could quit training, start eating burgers and run off to an island where I would resume my career as a beach bum.
It’s strange that I experienced such a significant slump following the massive success that was the See Jane Run half marathon. No matter how hard I tried, I could not motivate myself to do anything willingly. What do you do when motivation lags? When willpower erodes and you forget why you decided to walk (or run) down the path that you’re on? When falling off the wagon becomes something that you can justify because “today’s been hard” and you can “always jump back on tomorrow?”
In Marathon, Hal Higdon cites a number of signs that runners experience when they have been overtrained. Heavy legs, increased pulse rates during downtime, sleep problems, sore muscles, persistent cold symptoms and fear of training are all heavy indicators that you might be pushing too hard at a goal. In the past week, I have experienced all seven of these symptoms – often simultaneously. I hate skipping a workout. It makes me feel like a slacker – like someone who can’t see a goal to completion. This week, I simply did not have a choice. At the end of a four-mile run on Thursday, I doubled over with some of the worst abdominal cramping I have ever experienced. It was time for a break. I went inside, took a cold shower and put my running shoes away.
The work week took off like wildfire on Friday morning, leaving me unable to find time to put my gear back on and hit the pavement. When Saturday turned out to be just as busy and Sunday’s calendar filled itself with baby showers and baptisms, I threw up my arms and said “screw it.” I’m taking the weekend off and will pick back up on Monday. I felt guilty as heck about it, but there was nothing I could do. I was hurt. I was busy. I had parties to go to. It was raining. For a minute on Friday, I literally did not know what to do with myself. A weekend off from running? Friday night free from work? Both are strange and foreign concepts at this point. I’ve been training and dieting so intensely over the past month that I’d forgotten what it was like to act like a normal human being. Thankfully, I have some really wonderful friends and family that haven’t forgotten what it’s like to have a really good time – and who were willing and able to pull me out of my slump just in time to pick up training again tomorrow.
I spent the weekend celebrating life with my dearest friends and closest family members. Family dinner at Local 360 on Friday. QT with little brother. Puppy playtime and much-needed vent session with my dear friend Leila. Solo dinner at Branzino (where you really must go immediately) on a beautifully sunny Saturday evening. Giggles and a sleepover with mom Saturday night. Baby shower with the tailgate crew for Little Man Trester on Sunday. Baptism for the lovely Kamila on Sunday. So many smiles and a strong reminder that I am a seriously blessed individual.
Leila ran her first full marathon in San Francisco last fall. During our chat on Saturday, I shared with her my concern over the sheer distance that I’ll be covering in the next couple of months. 26.2 miles is far, and this week I found myself thinking that I might not be able to do it. She quieted my fears immediately, saying she had no doubt I’d finish – and finish strongly. If you can run a mile, you can run a marathon. Presence of mind is incredibly important in endurance sports, when the mind has to push the body to new extremes each week. Leila’s advice: perfect the running playlist, stay positive, think about the race as intervals and stop beating yourself up. Somewhere between lots of love, a healed body and fantastic advice, I found the recovery I needed to resume training tomorrow.