It Might Not Sound Like It, But I Am Smiling

It sank in this morning, in the cooler (if 72 degrees can be considered significantly cooler than 78 degrees), completely saturated air in the pre-dawn light this morning.

This marathon training thing is not going to get easier.

Somewhere along the line, I developed the concept that if you run often enough, fast enough, long enough, hard enough, that at some point, your daily miles would become easy, no big deal, and even, rejoice at the thought, nearly effortless.

Where the hell did that idea come from???

Probably from the notion that ‘practice makes perfect.’ The concept that repetition ensures future success. And if your definition of success is somehow easy, fast miles that require little or no attention to how you perform them, then you are going to be a seriously disappointed runner.

Which is where I found myself this morning.

“This is never going to get any easier, is it?”

I suppose the answer is yes and no.

Yes, a mile for me is not really a big deal these days. Once upon a time, say 5 years ago, running a mile was a physical impossibility. Even walking a mile was nearly a Greek tragedy in the making for me back in those bad old days. But, today, a little over 4 years since I started running and many hundreds of miles logged, a mile still doesn’t come to me without effort, without sweat, without some deep, full lungs of air.

Five miles felt like no big deal on Sunday morning when I wasn’t even half way to my goal of 11 miles for the day. This morning, five and a half miles (of an intended six) felt murderous.

I wonder if it really is all in my head. What if I had set the goal of running 12 miles this morning? Would running only 6 not have felt so tough?

And maybe it isn’t entirely all in my head. I haven’t taken a rest day since July 6th. In the past 10 days, there have been several days with double workouts logged; say weight lifting and 3 miles, or 30 minutes of rowing and power yoga later. I’ve probably pushed that envelope a little. I overslept this morning and only had time for one cup of coffee and no time to let the caffeine kick in. It wasn’t a great way to start a mid-week long run.

But overall, I suspect that my mental strength is lagging way behind my physical capabilities.

It might be time to put my brain through some paces of its own. The lyric “My head is on fire, but my legs are fine, after all they are mine” from Carry On, by fun. comes to mind. I don’t think it was really my legs that couldn’t go the distance this morning, but the 7 pounds of gray matter housed in my skull this morning was just not up for it.

Maybe on November 15th, I need to tell my brain that the goal is to run 30 miles, and then 26.2 won’t feel like such a big deal. Crossing the finish line will be like “Whew, made it to 26.2, I just don’t have it in me to go a full 30 miles this morning!”

Maybe I just need to work on some mental jumping jacks and get my head in line with where my legs are going.

“Self, get it together because this marathon is happening! Let’s go!”

If you’re wondering, I am smiling as I think that thought.

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