“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But I don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
I am now in the last week of training for a partner’s marathon which is happening in six short days. This past Sunday was to be my last longer run before the race. As I was sitting at the bonfire late Saturday night with friends, I was relaying the fact that I was scheduled for a 12 miler the next morning ( I was in fact just going for 10.5 since the course is outrageously hilly). My friend Emily said “Twelve miles, after today’s events? You run a lot!” My oldest, of course, had graduated from college that day and I had been up since 5 am and also spent the previous weeks preparing the house, working full-time and training extensively for the marathon. I knew she was right but I still went to bed -at midnight I might add and without much carbo loading that day-seriously considering one final assault on the course.
Well, morning broke early that’s for sure. I heard my dad get up at 3:30 am to leave for the airport. Then he texted me at 5:30 to say that he “had a ball” and for me to “go back to bed”. So I did; awakening again after 7 with a fatigue hangover. The long run prospects were looking mighty dim at this point. Then I did what no runner ever usually does-I listened to my body! I changed my plans and decided on a favorite 10k course that I had not run in a while.
My decision proved to be a smart one. I felt fantastic! In fact, I hope to feel this good during my half of the marathon this weekend. Moreover, my decision to cut the run short got me contemplating the training program that I used for the race. Initially, I thought that I would use the advanced guide since I had used the intermediate one a few times before and I was in better shape this go ’round. However, it didn’t take too long for me to realize that it was killing me! Three weeks in and I was wiped and sore nearly constantly. I never run more than 3 days in a row and the program was requiring 4 days with longer runs plus two days of speed work mixed in. Plus, I had already been running extensively before the training started. So, I rebooted and went back to the intermediate program with some of my own stuff (like 90 minutes of hot power yoga weekly-just the best!) in the mix.
Dedicated runners are remarkably adept at losing a few brain cells when it comes to training for races. On the one hand, you may have the competitive devil whispering fervently in one ear: “GO LONGER AND HARDER”; and on the other, the sensible angel sweetly saying: “USE YOUR COMMON SENSE.” Well, there is a time and place for everything and I do hope that I have approached my training with a mix of both-truth be told. I am in this sport because I love it; it is part of who I am and how I live my life.
In the end, I know that when I put my number on Sunday morning, I will be ready to give it my best knowing that I did my best to prepare for the race. After all, my fiance’ will be out there at the halfway mark waiting for the hand off!
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
― Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen