The Mental Fatigue of Marathon Training

Two weeks from today, I board a plane with my dad and brother and fly to Seattle where I will run my tenth full marathon in my fifth state. Four of my best friends will be there to run with me. This sounds AMAZING – yet the thought of getting out of bed this morning was agonizing! I didn’t want to run, I didn’t want to write, and I didn’t feel like adulting. Wait… What???

One of the voices in my head is yelling at me, “You get to travel across the country and visit a city you’ve never been to, spend time with your family, and do something you love with your friends…What the Hell is wrong with you?”

At the same time another voice in my head is saying, “Shut Up! You are not in the shape you should be, you’ve been slacking on your mileage, you’ve been eating junk… just go back to sleep because you SUCK!”

I got up. I sloshed through about seven miles. I was sweating, I was not in the right headspace, I was miserable… I really did feel like I sucked.

This is where my husband usually asks, “Why are you doing this if it’s making you so upset?”

Thus, is my mental struggle with running… I love it. I hate it. I crave it. I dread it…

You see I am not a natural runner. I don’t just need a pair of shoes and the open road to go out and run 10 miles. No music, no food, no water…

No, I need a plan. I need my iPod, my phone for a podcast in case I get bored with my music, food, a hydration belt…And I often complain the whole time I’m out on a run – especially if I’m trying to run alone. Most of the time I hate to run…which is really difficult to explain to non-runners. Why do you spend so much time doing something you don’t enjoy?

The easiest answer, and something I’ve often talked about, is the runner’s high. I’m constantly chasing that good run, that perfect race.

And while I usually CHERISH my running community – especially on Instagram – I’ve recently become a little bitter. Because it’s difficult to read about Boston Qualifiers, Hanson Method Users, Perfect Eaters…when I’m slacking off on training runs and nutrition. And I KNOW, I KNOW, not everything is as perfect as it appears on Social Media; but the deeper issue is that I KNOW I’M NOT DOING MY BEST! And that, my friends, is a hard pill to swallow!!!

I’ve gained weight, I’ve lost muscle and I’ve slowed down (literally and figuratively.) And this is the point where it becomes really easy to just throw in the towel; because when we get to this place we know how difficult it’s going to be to get back to where we were.

But Not Today! Today is NOT the day that I give up! Today is the day that I go out and suck at the run (praying tomorrow is a little easier.) Today is the day I eat the veggies and not the fries (praying tomorrow I’ll crave a little less.) Today is the day I drink the water (praying it fills me up and flushes out the crap.) Today is the day I forgive myself for staying up late, skipping runs, eating the fries…Today is the day I invest in myself, knowing that means investing in the bad parts of myself along with the good.

Because it’s a journey, not the destination…And while my destination at the Finish Line in Seattle might not be in the time I want – I’ll make damn sure I have a great time getting there (and hopefully a creek beer waiting for after:)

The Perfect Running Playlist

"You might be a RUNNER if the only time you update your playlist is right before a BIG race."

A girlfriend of mine is training for her first 5k!!!! This is SO exciting, because it means another person might catch the running bug...or she might decide she's NEVER running again...(she'll probably do both, in a matter of moments after crossing the Finish Line:)

But she asked me a question I get asked a lot... What songs should I put on my running playlist? While this is a loaded question, as the number ONE requirement for a song is that it be a song you like, there are some general rules of thumb I like to follow. 

1. Keep Your Ears & Eyes Open - If you're anything like me, you spend an obscene amount of time in your car. When a song comes on the radio that makes you want to do an embarrassing car-dance, grab your phone (without taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel...just like you do when you have to hand your kiddos a snack in the backseat) and take a picture / or screenshot if you're on Spotify or Pandora or whatever new music APP I'm behind the times to discover. After you have the name, you can search for it later in iTunes (preferably while not driving.)

I'm always finding pics like this in my Camera Roll - like little hidden gems of songs I forgot about...usually right before a marathon which is the only time I update my playlist.

I'm always finding pics like this in my Camera Roll - like little hidden gems of songs I forgot about...usually right before a marathon which is the only time I update my playlist.

2. Measure Your Cadence - Cadence is a word that actually ties music and running together. In music, cadence is a melodic or harmonic configuration of notes that creates a sense of resolution...In running, cadence is the total number of 'revolutions per minute' (RPM), or number of full cycles taken within a minute, by the pair of feet, and is used as a measure of athletic performance. There are a TON of really cool running APPS out there to help determine  and increase your cadence...But the LONG story short is, YOU WANT YOUR MUSIC TO HAVE A FAST BEAT THAT YOU CAN TRY TO MATCH WITH YOUR CADENCE. The best tool to use for this is a Metronome, which measures the Beat Per Minute of a song.

Search the word metronome in Google and the free metronome will pop up...Find your favorite song on iTunes and listen to the free sample as you hit play on the metronome. Move the scale up or down until you find the Beats Per Minute that will get your feet moving.

Search the word metronome in Google and the free metronome will pop up...Find your favorite song on iTunes and listen to the free sample as you hit play on the metronome. Move the scale up or down until you find the Beats Per Minute that will get your feet moving.

3. THROW MY PLAYLIST OUT THE WINDOW IF IT'S NOT YOUR JAM (If it's your jam, then jam away) - I have an eclectic mix of running friends, which is why I love them! We all have different tastes and that is most evident in our playlists. I'll never forget finding my friend Carey around Mile 12 of The Flying Pig Marathon and she told me how excited she was because her favorite musical had just come on her playlist....WHAT?!???? You're listening to ShowTunes during the marathon? Now, don't get me wrong - I love Wicked & Rent just like a normal person (and I'd probably have to make an amendment to this now that Hamilton is out...I COULD run to Hamilton...) But my point is, what I like isn't necessarily going to be what you like. You have to download a few songs and see how they make you feel. You'll have songs you can listen to for five years, and you'll have songs that you know after five seconds that you need to remove them from your playlist IMMEDIATELY!

I had fun going through my Flying Pig Marathon Playlist that has evolved a lot over the last four years. I went through and picked my fav songs in a few categories. I hope you enjoy & download a few...

SONGS WITH A GOOD BEATH (150+ BPM)

  1. 15 Step - Radiohead
  2. Green Light - John Legend (John Legend, you ask? YES! John Legend!!!)
  3. Bring it Back - Shy Carter
  4. Handclap - Fitz & The Tantrums
  5. Whistle - Katy Tiz

SONGS WITH SOME IRONY (If we can't laugh at ourselves during the marathon, we're in BIG trouble!!!)

  1. 500 Miles - The Proclaimers
  2. Feels Good - Tony! Toni! Tone!
  3. How Far We've Come - Matchbox 20
  4. Go Big Or Go Home - America Authors
  5. Life is a Highway - Tom Cochrane

SONGS THAT MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I'M IN A SUBARU COMMERCIAL (or a National Park) (or Robert Redford is narrating my marathon)

  1. Hold Back the River - James Bay
  2. I Lived - One Republic
  3. Gone Gone Gone - Phillip Phillips
  4. Brand New - Ben Rector
  5. Geronimo - Sheppard

5 People Every Runner Should Have on Speed Dial {Dealing with Injury During Marathon Training}

   Whether you’re a seasoned runner or training for your first marathon, you’ve probably noticed feelings you’ve never experienced before…and I’m not talking about the glorious runner’s high we’re always chasing. No, I’m talking about that weird twitch on the outside of your knee, or the shooting pain along the bottom of your foot when you stumble out of bed in the morning…or – as I most recently experienced – that amazing sensation where your back seizes up when you try to unfold your body, leading you to double over in pain and let out the most God-awful moan.

   Now, I know there are those people who are just Born To Run. They NEVER have injuries – except the occasional pain that is immediately alleviate with ten minutes on the foam roller. They run a casual 40-miles a week. Their PR goals have been whittled down to seconds… No, I’m NOT jealous!!!! I’M NOT JEALOUS…

   I trained for my first marathon relatively unscathed, but in my second training season I began having low back pain. This was no surprise considering my mother, my sister, my aunt and my niece have all had back surgeries. And as my running goals have grown, so has my injury list. I’ve had plantar fasciitis, medial knee pain, weak hip flexors…and now we’re back to low-back pain. It’s the circle of injury!

   But I’ve become addicted to running. It’s not a hobby, it’s not a job, it’s just who I am…I know non-runners would NEVER understand this, but it’s as much a part of who I am as being a mother. It just is – with no explanation or reasoning… So when I face injuries, it is devastating. The thought of not being able to run induces chest-tightening, heart-racing, irrational panic attack symptoms.

   Here is the dream –team of people who keep me moving. It may not be pretty, it may not be fast, but it’s enough to feed my soul!

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