Well…it is Day Six of the Spring Marathon Training Season and I am feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, frustrated and anxious – which puts me right about where I thought I would be!
Why am I feeling this way? Well, for starters I cut my very first training run of the season short (by three miles!) I also completely blew-off my Tuesday night training run “Why, yes! I would MUCH rather eat soft pretzels, drink beer and watch my kids do the Chicken Dance at the Hofbrauhaus than run five miles in 20-degree weather.”
But it’s more than that… marathon training is hard, and I don’t mean physically hard. I mean mentally, logistically and emotionally hard. And then you add spouses and children in to them mix & forget about it…
I cannot tell you how many girlfriends I have heard say some form of the following statement to me, “I really want to train to run a marathon, but I just can’t do it with the kids right now. It’s too much.”
As a wife and mother myself, I empathize with these friends. I remember my first training season. And how nobody told me that unspoken aspect of the marathon… it will take a toll on your relationships.
And how could it not? Long runs every Saturday mean that once you get up into longer mileage, you’ll be away from home somewhere between four and six hours (depending on mileage, pace and how far away from home you’re running.) For me, I drive about thirty miles one way to run, I’m in one of the slowest pace groups, and I like to get in that last twenty-two mile training run that some runners skip. So, on the last long run I’ll leave my house around 5:30 in the morning and I won’t get home until around noon. At which point my husband will be ready to get out of the house alone…but all I will want to do is take an ice bath (which I’ll blog about later) and take a nap. By the time I feel like a normal human again, it’s 5:30 in the evening and my entire day has been consumed by running. And this isn’t a one-time deal. It rolls into weeknight training runs, cross-training sessions at the gym, late-night yoga classes…all while trying to juggle work, kids, housework – and don’t forget about that person you’re suppose to love, honor and cherish.
But the feminist inside of me (she’s not a full-grown feminist…more like a child-size feminist, but she’s still there) wants to take these friends by the shoulders and shake them! I want to yell at them, “You cannot put your own life on hold! You have the right to run a marathon if you want to…especially when you have a perfectly able-bodied husband at home who equally agreed to – and participated in – the creation of said children!”
But, like I said above, training to run a marathon is more of a mental test than a physical battle & if a person isn’t committed 110 percent to making it happen, then they won’t make it happen…so I save my breath. (I’ll need it out on the road, anyway.)
But for my fellow mommies who have made the decision to train for a marathon, here are a few pieces of advice that I’ve learned along the way.
1) Know going into this process that it will be mentally and emotionally difficult! And, be okay with that fact. You will have to change your training schedule to make it to school recitals, and work meetings and evening dinners with your family at the Hofbrauhaus… and that’s okay! I would never… I will never put anything before my family! But that doesn’t mean I can’t run a marathon. It just means my training schedule won’t look like everyone else’s.
2) Throw your training schedule in the garbage…but take a picture on your phone before you do. Use your training schedule as a guide to lead you through this process, but know that you can veer off the schedule and jump back on whenever it works for you. DO NOT LIVE AND DIE BY THE SCHEDULE!!!! I ran my second marathon faster than my first, and I trained through an injury logging way fewer miles than I did the first time.
3) Do not EVER under any circumstances feel guilty about what you are doing! Yes, you are missing Saturday mornings with your family for a few months…But trust me, your children will learn more about dedication, hard-work and perseverance by watching you over the next four months than they would sitting on the couch with you watching cartoons or folding laundry or whatever other mundane tasks you’d be doing.
4) And your spouse… This will be a voyage for them too. Be understanding of their feelings. Hear them when they are frustrated. Tell them how much you appreciate their support. And know, even when they are telling you that, “They don’t ever want you to do this again!!!!” that they will be smiling bigger than anyone else when you cross that finish line!
5) Don’t be so hard on yourself! (I know, I’m one to talk considering I just told you how I’m feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and unworthy today…) But I know that is only how I’m feeling right now…And I know that I am really strong and that I can one-hundred-percent do this!!! And I know I won’t be at every long run, and I know I won’t cross-train nearly as much as I should…But I will finish this race – in my own way and on my own schedule! And you will too!!!!