What Now?

Three months into 2014 and I've already run 4 races, including 2 marathons and 1 back-to-back race challenge. Whew! If that sounds like a lot, it's because it is. And while I'm super proud and happy about the fact that I've done so much already, I'm currently dealing with a question I think every runner asks after a big race: What now?

I didn't have to deal with this after the Charleston Marathon, because I knew the answer: spend the next weeks training for the Shamrock Marathon. It seemed like such a good plan at the time, but it was harder to turn around and train for another long distance race than I thought it would be. The closer I got to Shamrock, the harder the runs got. Running didn't get any easier on race day. I took 8 full days off from running after the race, something that is unheard of in my world. I started running again this week, with a couple 2-3 milers, and they didn't feel great. I've developed some discomfort/pain on the outside of my knee and along the outside of my thigh and hip (which I suspect is IT band related). Real talk: I haven't had a good run in a month.

Going in to this year, I planned for my next big goal race to be a half Ironman in June, 11 1/2 weeks away. I also hoped to complete a half marathon in May,  5 1/2 weeks away, as prep for that and because it's a really fun race. My heart and my mind are on board, but my body is a different story. On one hand, I know I can probably push through even though my runs are feeling less than perfect. The question is: should I?

Why is that such a hard question to answer? That's the thing I really can't figure out. Running has been such a positive part of my life, but in some ways, it can be really ugly. The part of me that will run through injury, stress over missing a run, feel like a failure if I don't achieve my goals...that part is really unhealthy. I know that, yet I can't turn it off. I don't know how to tell that voice to be quiet. I've learned a lot in the (almost) 3 years I've been a runner, but I haven't learned how to manage this obsession in a healthy way. I haven't learned how to balance my brain's need to run and race with my body's need to sometimes follow a schedule that's different from the one I have written down on paper.

So, I don't know what's next. The way I see it, I have 3 options: train for and complete the half marathon and half Ironman as planned; skip the half marathon but complete the half Ironman; take however much time off I need, skip the long distances, race shorter distance (longest run distance would be 10k), and save the long distance tri for next year.  I have no idea which is the correct path to take. I want to do these races, but I also want to feel strong doing them. I have so many things I want to accomplish, but why do I feel the need to do it all right now? How can I learn to balance everything? Will I ever learn?!

I think I just need a good run...that always makes me feel better and see everything clearer!


2 comments :

  1. I think you need a good run too! Your body has been through a lot in the past few weeks so I'm sure it's still just recovering. But a good run does wonders for the mind! I think after my half in April I'm going to take a few weeks to just run whenever I want and put off worrying about a training plan for a little haha.

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  2. I can't believe how much you've run already this year! I am having a tough time just training for my half.

    I thibk running small races for awhile is a fine goal. I know after my half, I'm going to cut back a lot on running and focus more on yoga and barre classes.

    You are extremely impressive! Don't ever feel bad about missing a running day bc you have achieved more these past few months than some people do in a lifetime!

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