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:)