Marathon training continues apace (ha ha) with less than a month to go before the big day! The plantar fasciitis seems to be getting better (I say while whispering and knocking on wood and crossing all available appendages) but I’ve suffered a groin injury on my right side, much like the groin injury I had on the left before my first half marathon. Must. Work. On. Flexibility.
With the passing of my father-in-law, workouts have been hit and miss, squeezed in around more important time spent with family and friends for the viewing, funeral, and actual burial on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, respectively. I have to say it’s not easy when your stress coping mechanism — exercise — is disrupted by the life stress itself.
After the 18-miler on Sunday, I ran 10 miles on Wednesday, swam a mile on Friday, and ran 13 miles on Saturday. Make that 13 of the slowest, most sluggish miles I have “run” in a long time. That is messing with my head, people. I have to remind myself that good training plans lay out a series of high-intensity weeks and recovery weeks, and it’s a continual process of straining the body and recovering to become even stronger. While I might feel slow and sluggish this week, when taper starts in another week, I’ll gain back some pep in my step, so to speak. I should cut myself a break, and give myself a virtual pat on the back for doing what I can, when I can, the best I can do it.
Running and racing require mental toughness as well as physical toughness — the mental toughness to go for a run when you really don’t feel like it, to pick the training plan back up after you’ve missed a couple of days and it feels like all is lost. (That might sound overly dramatic, but I know plenty of people for whom a day or two off becomes three, then four, then weeks.) Sometimes when I go for a run when I don’t want to, or I complete a run in spite of the fact that my legs feel like lead, I deserve extra credit. I proved that I have the toughness to overcome some of the mental barriers to exercise.
At the same time, I give myself credit (I am generous that way) for listening to my body and not pushing too hard. An injury, a bad night’s sleep, the rare glass of wine too many, an illness, overtraining — all those things should make the athlete reconsider the wisdom of pushing hard for a given workout. Let’s just go all cliché up in here and remember that sometimes LESS IS MORE. It’s okay, it’s necessary, to let the body recover in order to become stronger. The wise athlete does not let that affect her mental game. She simply resolves to build that strength of body and mind, and meet the next workout with renewed energy and spirit.