September 5, 2014

Breakdown or breakthrough?

I got off the treadmill with tears in my eyes and doubt in my heart last night.  I was confused, frustrated, and disappointed with myself.  7 weeks into my Richmond Marathon training cycle and 70 days from race day and I found myself feeling totally unmotivated and just not "in it."  Since day 1 of this training cycle, I feel like I've been battling with myself to "get up" for it.  Now don't get me wrong, it's not like I didn't want to do Richmond when I signed up, but I've had a much harder time finding my rhythm this training cycle.

To be completely honest, I'm not really enjoying myself.  I haven't been able to determine if this is a byproduct of icky summer running, being tired from pace-based training, a major stressor at work, or simply just not being into it.  The other night I started thinking about my options.  With Richmond 11 weeks away, I'm approaching the really intense training in the coming weeks - the really long weekend runs and much longer weeknight runs.  I promised I wouldn't make a heat-of-the-moment decision and am giving myself a few weeks to consider my options.

Here's the kicker.  It's really hard for me to admit all this to myself, let alone to anyone else.  I've always fought through a challenging training cycle with support from my running buddies and a little mental fortitude.  I can't remember ever feeling this down before.  I reread all of my Marine Corps posts last night to try to see if I went through something similar and I think I did in the late July time frame.  Maybe this is the same and it will pass in a few weeks.  Maybe it's not.  Only time will tell.

What I do know is that I will give myself time to reflect, ponder, and pontificate on this marathon.  I'm not sure it's meant to be, but I also know I'm not ready to quit just yet.   And until I figure out what is best for me, you can find me googling articles on how to beat burnout and get back on track with training.

Any words of wisdom for marathon training doldrums?
{Christine}

21 comments:

  1. I'll look for books, articles, etc. But for now, sending virtual hugs.

    The training IS hard, especially when you have a goal time. It takes a LOT of mental/will power to make yourself do it some days, especially if you're drawing on that willpower for other things like making yourself go to work and perform when it's stressful.

    Maybe try keeping the 3 key or quality sessions (long runs, pace runs, speedwork) so you preserve your option to run Richmond as long as possible, but try new locations, times of day, workouts or training buddies/groups for the other runs and non-running days. A little bit of novelty or fun can go a long way. Other things like trying a new yoga class (a safe one) or anything that appeals to you might break the log jam.

    In the end, you'll figure out what works for you and will contribute most to your happiness. Remember to take good care of yourself physically (& maybe get a massage!) in nutrition, sleep and overall health. Look for what lightens your heart and makes you smile even a little bit.

    Sending all good thoughts your way!

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    1. Great advice, like always. Thank you for the kind words. I'm trying to work in fun into the schedule and I found a buddy for my long run this weekend.

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  2. I think you're burned out, and you have option, and time to make decisions. You're 10 weeks out so you have time! Do more cross training, and just a mental break from running. I think if you let yourself have a week, you'll want to get back to it.

    Maybe also volunteer at a local race in the next couple of weeks.being part of that environment but not running might be just wrap hat you need!

    Hugs!!!

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    1. Thanks friend! Love the volunteer idea-may try that. I also am beating myself up a bit unnecessarily I think...truth be told my run wasn't that bad last night...it just wasn't fun!

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  3. When is the last time you took a break from training? I ask because I had been training for over a year straight, yes I took my rest days, but I had not taken a solid week off and I was feeling much the same as you are now. I decided to take the last two weeks of August off, just ran again yesterday and it felt AWESOME!!!!! I feel like I got my groove back, my next race is ToT which is less than a month away and then I have the Wine & Dine half a month after that. I knew I was taking a risk, however I think the gamble paid off in Ace's. Remember REST of different lengths of time are also part of the training program.

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    1. So glad you found your mojo, Gloria! I took a long break after my race in March and was running much lower mileage earlier this summer.

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  4. I was struggling for my Dopey training. I talked to my mentor and he said skip a workout. One workout won't make a big difference, but it may be what you need. He told me the long run is more important than a short run, and it I wasn't feeling it, to skip it. After he told me that, I got my mojo back. Make sure you are cross training. Jump in the pool instead of a run. You were a swimmer, it may be just what you need to refocus. I know when I am swimming and running, the combination keeps me on the right track. Good luck!

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  5. Girlfriend, here you go. Just let me know how hard you want it. :) http://blackdogrunsdisney.com/2014/09/04/sometimes-you-just-need-a-slap-upside-the-head/

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  6. I have not completed my first marathon yet so I don't know exactly how you feel, but knowing that you have done this TWO times before should give you confidence that you can get through this. Are you trying to PR or just complete it? Good luck friend and keep your chin high! This too shall pass! -M

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  7. *hugs* I would give it some time. I think the heat is wearing everyone out right now but when the cooler temps come, it is much easier to get out there and we all start to want to even more. Plus, the harder runs are coming as it cools down, fortunately. Yeah, you got off the treadmill with tears but really, who wants to run inside a gym all the time?

    I agree with those who said to skip a run if you just don't feel it. The race isn't until November and missing a run here or there won't hurt, that's life. It may help you more to miss it and just get some rest or do another activity, especially if it helps you get your mojo back.

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    1. The warmer temps and humidity always get to me. I'm definitely a cold-weather runner! The TM has actually been really helpful lately. Thanks for your kind words!

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  8. Hugs girl! Maybe take a few days off from running. That shouldn't hurt your training and it may make you miss it and you'll be ready to get back out there again!

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    1. Thanks Mindy! I'm trying to plan a break and give myself some rest...and maybe a mental break! :)

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  9. I just wrote about this on my blog today because I'm just starting and although I'm crazy excited, I know those days are gonna come when I just DON'T FREAKING WANT TO. And will think, as my husband (and 2X marathoner) just said to me "after all, running a marathon is kind of stupid." Gee, thanks, Honey. Keep in mind this was during my "everybody has to get behind me because I'm starting training Monday" speech. Sounds like we need each other! Hang in there - you are AMAZING and you'll get your groove back. I just know it.

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  10. Sending hugs your way Christine. I hope you can find that motivation spark within you. I think you are being very smart and taking a few weeks to think about what you want to do!

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  11. So many are going through this right now, including me....i don't even want to run MCM as it stands right now. I feel like I'm just "done". I went through something very similar at the EXACT same time during training last year too. It will pass!

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  12. I'm feeling the same way with the NYC Marathon on the horizon. What I'm about to say will most likely make other runners cringe, so take it with a grain of salt! :)

    Running and racing is a secondary sport for me since I also show horses and I train 5 days a week for that. I squeeze in running where I can, so I show up to many races only half trained.

    I was fairly dedicated to my training for the NYC marathon in 2012. I did just about every long run. But then the NYC marathon was canceled and I really lost my mojo for training for the 2013 Goofy Challenge about 2 months later. Most of my long runs capped out at 12 miles, but I was semi consistent in just getting out to run.

    I finished Goofy under HORRID conditions that year (I'm pretty sure you guys were there that year, too) and did just fine. The times were super slow but that was more because we stayed as a group and the heat was terrible.

    My point to all of this is that you actually do train hard pretty consistently. I have no doubt that even if you toned down your training to a more comfortable level, you'd still finish and most likely, you'd still have a decent finish time.

    Summer marathon training just sucks no matter how you look at it. Do what makes you happy and if this isn't making you happy, it's okay to defer or lower your expectations. Best wishes!

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  13. So sorry to hear you're having some burnout. I've been struggling with that during this training cycle for Goofy. My motivation comes and goes depending on the run. I can't imagine having pace based runs, I feel like that would make me burn out even faster. Hoping you are able to figure out what is best for you in the coming weeks!

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  14. Its completely natural for us all to experience burnout at some point. You've been working your butt off for so long, and you shouldn't feel bad about needing a break. Make sure you listen to what your heart and body are telling you to do, and I hope you figure out soon what is best for you.

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  15. One thing to remember is that you've gone through a life change this year, too, Christine. I know you are happy with your new beau - and that's terrific - but tipping the apple cart and switching up a facet of life can throw things asunder...either externally or internally. Training for a marathon is hard (I'm doing it right now, too)...it requires going to bed early (I went to bed last night at 9:00), getting up at ridiculously early hours (long run days I get up at 4:00...other run days, I sleep in until 5:00), and all of this takes sacrifice. And at the end of the day, something inside you might be saying, "I don't think I want to make these sacrifices right now...I have other stuff to do!" And here's the deal...that's perfectly okay and normal.

    Here's my advice (for what it's worth)...make a decision either way about Richmond. If you decide to run it, know that you have a few months of sacrifice in front of you, but remember that feeling you'll get when crossing the Finish Line...especially knowing that it might lead to a break from the big races.

    But whether you run it or not, after you don't have to train as hard, give yourself a break. Put yourself on a "four times a week / three miles per time" schedule...I think that'll help you substantially. Run a few 5Ks or 10Ks with people who are running for the first time...inspire them. Let them know that they can do this! In other words, have fun with it!

    Whatever you decide, know that your running friends will support you and not judge you...ever!

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  16. Ugh, I so hear ya. I've said to Jason more than once that I sort of wish I wasn't running New York this year...

    I know for me personally it probably has more to do with the heat/ humidity and trying to juggle running around moving and stuff...I'm really hoping that once we're a little more settled and the weather cools down I'll be more into it.

    If you're really not feeling it then I'd say defer...running should be enjoyable and not something you need to force yourself through - you don't want to end up hating it!

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