Long time, no blog. It’s been nearly three months since my last marathon. Life has been extremely busy – work, summer fun, life changes, and marathon training.
I’m three weeks into training for Chicago Marathon. I hired an awesome coach and was excited to have her do the thinking for me. It’s impossible to view yourself objectively. Running was going very well.
Until it wasn’t.
I’m in the process of making some big life changes, things that affect every area of my life. I am emotionally and physically drained. Training for a PR on top of it became too much. Even though I was nailing my workouts, something felt off. I wasn’t finding joy in running, something I’ve never experienced before.
Running is my escape from life’s stress, and no matter how busy or tough training gets, I thrive off the push. Ironically, training makes me more efficient in all areas. I am the best version of myself when I’m training and pushing my limits.
Until I’m not.
The mental exhaustion I’m feeling is hard to quantify. My life-changing stress has begun to physically manifest. I’m making bad food choices and sleeping terribly. I’m overwhelmed to the point of becoming paralyzed by inaction. All of that adds up to stressful miles, especially those hard speed workouts where you have to be on point.
I was smack dap in the middle of a 13-mile long run on Sunday. I ran a route with a large hill. After the climb, you overlook the town. It’s serene and peaceful with a beautiful view of the prairie and river. When I reached the top, I overlooked it all and just broke down. After lots of tears, I knew to avoid burnout and truly care for myself, I had to make the decision not to race Chicago. I’m not sure if I will run it at all, even for fun.
Once I conceded the race to myself, I didn’t have the desire to finish out my long run. I’ve never bailed on a long run before. Ever. Once I commit, I don’t bail. When those thoughts ran through my mind, I knew I was making the right call.
While this decision is right, it’s also sad and disappointing. I’ve had Chicago on my mind since last October when I registered. Boston went better than expected, so I was primed for a PR (with a good training cycle).
I’ve never had to back out of a race before. There were times where I should have but ran anyway. One of those times ended in passing out on the course with heat exhaustion and being propped up by race volunteers to walk to the finish. I was too stubborn to back off. Yes, I am usually “that person.”
This time, I won’t be too stubborn. I know I have faster marathon times in me, but right now, it isn’t a healthy time for me to chase them. I feel like I’m disappointing people, most of all myself.
On the other hand, I look forward to taking a mental break, something I didn’t do after Boston when I needed it. Just two weeks out, I was logging 50-some mile weeks. How silly of me.
Marathon training is consuming. If you’ve done it, you know the work it takes. The miles are just the beginning. After you run, there’s fueling, hydrating, rolling, smashing, lifting, laundry……you name it.
My coach emailed me today and I dropped the bomb. She was very supportive, just as I thought she’d be.
So, there it is. I’m strong, but sometimes I need to back off to take care of myself, too.