Preparing for my first marathon

Detroit MarathonI completed my first marathon last weekend. (!!!) But it totally sucked. I’m working on just accepting it and admitting I had a bad day, but I’m still making excuses about why I didn’t do well. I am thinking back to this post by Kara Goucher that I read a few months ago. If Kara Goucher beats herself up about bad runs, then clearly we all have them.

I trained to run a marathon this past March. Four weeks before the race and one week before our final long training run, I wasn’t able to finish my second 16 mile run because I had such an intense foot pain I had to get in a taxi. I cried in the taxi, afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to do the marathon. When I got back to the running store, I told everyone that I was still doing the marathon. No matter what. Well, a trip to the doctor and an x-ray and MRI later, it was clear I wasn’t. The doctor told me I had a stress fracture and I’d have to have surgery if I tried to race.

I cried on and off for a couple weeks. I trained really well, I never missed a run, I followed the training calendar perfectly. I was ready for the marathon. Instead I was stuck hobbling around in a boot for a few weeks. Which was terrible. It was uncomfortable. Driving was difficult. I couldn’t run. My hips always hurt because I was hobbling/limping on uneven legs.

Race day came and went. My friend Jessica came to DC to run. She did the half marathon. I cried about not running. Then we had brunch in the way only Tastee Diner can serve it up.

When I could start running again I was so excited. The first day I went out and ran five miles. It was fantastic. But then I spent months fighting with shoes and started to really hate running. I went from wearing Vibram Five Fingers to very supportive shoes that made my entire body hurt. Then I got more neutral shoes but they were still uncomfortable. By the time I got back into minimal shoes, I hated running. It was no longer fun. But I’m stubborn. And I was going to run a marathon this year.

Unfortunately, I didn’t train. I mean, I suppose technically speaking I did. But I did a really bad job training. I ran/walked all of my runs. All of them. Not just the long ones. Aside from the obvious problem with this that my fitness just wasn’t what it needed to be, my mental toughness wasn’t either. I tell people all the time that physically almost anyone can run a marathon, but mentally most people aren’t strong enough. Well, I wasn’t this time around either. Last time I trained, I pushed myself to run when I didn’t want to. I didn’t do that this time. When I didn’t want to run, I stopped and walked. Sometimes for way too long. So I always felt bad about my training. I never felt like I was doing what I should have been doing. But I also couldn’t get myself to train better. The thoughts generally went something like, “well I haven’t trained well so I can’t train well so I don’t train well” and then it kept going. It should have been, “I haven’t trained well but I have in the past and I will from now on.”