“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you.” I’m not sure who to attribute those words to, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t first said in relation to marathon running, but those words stuck with me during my Edinburgh marathon training at the start of this year.
There were mornings when my alarm would sound at 5:45am, and I’d want to sob with tiredness. But I’d get up, put on my 5 layers of clothes, and go out and battle the cold to complete my session. Some of them were boring, some were tough, some hurt, some were easy. I ran more miles than I’d ever run before. From the start of January to the end of May I was constantly knackered, but I was also the fittest I’ve ever been.
Even when I desperately wanted to stay in bed instead of run, or when I wanted to down a bottle of wine and pass out rather than do weights at the gym, I pushed myself to get it done. I had a goal in mind. I wanted a PB at Edinburgh, and the only way I could get it would be through consistent training and hard work.
My hard work paid off, and I took over half an hour off my marathon time. The last three miles were pure hell, with my body screaming at me to stop. But just like during my training, I refused to give up. And it was so worth it.
I never regretted a run. I did, however, regret a few things that went along with marathon training. I regretted missing out on nights out with friends. I regretted snapping at my boyfriend because I was so exhausted. I regretted being under-prepared in meetings at work because I’d favoured stretching over homework.
I began training for the Yorkshire marathon 4 weeks ago, after 5 weeks of easy running, relaxation, eating, drinking, and catching up with friends. I was ticking off the miles, running 5 times a week, but my heart wasn’t in it like it was with Edinburgh training. I assumed that the motivation would come, but one of the main issues I was having was that I wasn’t sure what my goal was. The obvious answer is “sub-4 hours”. Now, I’m not the fastest runner, and this doesn’t come easily to me. But although I’m not one suffer from self-doubt, I really doubted my ability to go sub-4. That’s not to say that I don’t think I’m capable of it, rather I don’t think I’m capable of it right now. I know that I need to work on shorter distances and speedwork in order to run a faster marathon, I need more experience of racing and effective training.
Last week I got up at 6am so I could go and run 5 miles with 4x800m intervals. I had a piece of toast and a cup of tea, and started to put on my kit. Then something inside my brain snapped. I didn’t want to run. So I did something I’ve never done before. I took off my kit and went back to bed.
After a lot of thought and worrying that I’ve lost my love of running, I decided to give myself the week off training and to reassess my plan. I’m still not feeling particularly up for running, although I’ve dragged myself out for a few short jogs. I’m beginning to realise that signing up for another marathon so soon after finishing an intensive 20 weeks of training may not have been the best idea. (“Wait a second,” I hear you ask. “Didn’t something like this happen last year?” Why yes, it did actually!)
So, as things stand at the moment, I’m not planning on running another marathon this year. I want to enjoy running, not have it as a chore, something hanging over my head, or another thing to tick off the ‘to do’ list. Running is my escape from real life, my “me-time”. I feel stupid for not realising that this might happen, especially after dropping down from the Preston marathon post-VLM last year. This year, however, the problem is with my mojo, not my legs.
Here’s to hoping that my running mojo will come back soon…