What is wrong with me? Why am I not getting faster even though I am trying so hard and doing everything I need to do?
I have wondered this a lot over the past few weeks, and I am sure I am not alone.
Running has never claimed to be easy.
As a brand new runner, we join the sport thinking that if we can just get “fast” then it will suddenly be easy. We will see what all the fuss is about, and sure, every now and again you might have a bad run, just to keep things in perspective, but it will be so much better when we reach that day.
You finally made it to be a runner.
But here’s the problem:
That day never arrives.
Every now and again, we get a stretch where things do click into place. You are on a roll, and you improve one race after the next, PBs fall, again and again.
But the higher up you get, the faster you get, not only does it not get easier, but those stretches become less and less common, and those breakthroughs are a few seconds, rather than a few minutes.
Last year, I was in my “roll”.
Although I had as many bad races as good, I had a LOT of good experiences, knocked 5 minutes off my marathon, and completed my ultimate running goal. Opportunities that came up made 2016 a fantastic year for my running, and many of us (myself included) could have predicted that it would mean some struggles would be coming my way very soon.
I was not wrong. 2017 has not been kind to Tina the runner so far.
This has been the longest stretch of bad runs I have felt in a long time.
Does this sound familiar?
After 1-2 weeks off running after a big race, the first few weeks are spent just getting back into it, feeling good…and then around 2/3 of your mileage, you feel like you hit a wall.
For a few weeks, every run is difficult, you feel sore, tired, and just crappy.
This is where you question why you do this and wonder why you are not fully recovered after your race.
But that time passes, and like smashing through a wall, after a few weeks at the higher mileage, you start to feel good again, the fitness comes back, and you get your confidence back.
That is how it usually works for me.
Except this time, the few weeks of every day being sore, tired and crappy has turned into eight weeks of feeling this way.
I have had a few good runs, of course there have been moments I was just in the flow and running along, not thinking about how bad I feel, but overall, training does not feel like it has been going well.
Time and time again my confidence has been tested as it feels like I am not getting anywhere. I can tell my cardiovascular fitness is there from the mileage and the cross training, but when it comes to workouts and feeling good in my training, those thoughts are few and far between.
My workouts are significantly slower than they are usually at this point, significantly slower than they have been in a long time, significantly slower than the pace I will need to be running if I hope to make it to miles 18-20 to pace the London Marathon next month.
For that reason, I have avoided my GPS watch during workouts, just like I suggest to you during times of struggle, I have covered it up, and not looked, I have once again, taken Steve’s advice of “take what your body gives you” and just focus on doing my best for that day.
I have been getting the work in, I have been doing all the training I needed to do (other than one missed strength training session), but it still isn’t easy on the mind when every day is a grind, and every day tests your commitment to the sport.
I know I did not have a major injury, and I am sure a lot of these feelings I am experiencing are the same as those who are coming back from an extended time off, but after a longer recovery time after CIM (my request), followed by a few hiccups, I was left in pretty bad shape (remember, running is relative!!), and I have been trying to claw my way out of this hole.
I am not going to lie, it has been hard.
I have questioned if I still “want it” anymore, and many times over the last few weeks, I have told a few people I think I am going to pull out of the pacing for London for fear of messing it up.
But here’s the thing; we know that running brings up and downs, and we know that the more downs there are, the better the ups feel. It is moments like that really determine how much you want it, how well you are going to do in the future. It is not the moments where everything is going well that make you run fast and achieve those big goals, it is the moment where you are truly tested, where every fiber in your being wants to quit, but you do not.
This is that moment where those adverts come in, asking you if you are going to quit, are powerful, and actually helpful. If you can just make it through this time, you will be stronger than ever and appreciate those great moments more than you ever would have if your running just went well all the time.
I have six weeks before pacing the London Marathon, and that is a LOT of time for things to “click” together. I have been doing the work, I have been trusting the journey, and considering the amount of bad runs, my confidence has remained pretty good, trusting that it will be there when it needs to.
So no matter what happens these next 6 weeks, I will keep fighting, I will keep putting my head down and getting ready. At some point it will click together for me, and at some point my friends, I promise it will click together for you.
My goal is to be ready for the Gold Coast Marathon, and that is what matters the most for me right now. July 2nd is months away, and I am sure, this is happening for a reason.
As I mentioned, it gets harder to run a PR the higher up your running ladder you go, and now I am closing in on the 2:30 area, I have to be tested. 2:30ish is NO easy feat, so I have to show just how much I am willing to do to get there.
Maybe your next big goal is the same. It is something scary, it is something that will take a long time, it is something that requires clawing your way back after a big injury, but you WILL get there, if you persevere through this moment.
Hang in there, and trust that you are going to be rewarded in the end.
Running is the ultimate example of you get what you put in. Maybe it isn’t when you expect, maybe it isn’t when you initially want, and maybe your path will take a direction you never expected, but it will work out for you in a way it was meant to.
All you need to do is just keep moving forward, as best as you possibly can.
Brain dump, OVER! Thank you for letting me vent to you, I hope this can help someone out there not feel so alone. If you have a friend who has gone through a big injury, and is really struggling, share this with them, and let them know that things will get better.
Before I let you get on with your day, I have a gift for you. I am sorry, it is just for marathoners, but I have been asked about this a lot, so I created this little cheat sheet to figure out your marathon nutrition for your next marathon. If you are racing Boston, London, or another spring marathon, you still have time, but you NEED to take my advice on practicing for EVERY long run and workout from now on out. I would even consider using your pre race and night before meals on as many meals as possible…to the point where you do not want to eat that meal for a while as you are so bored of it.
Anyway, here you go:
I hope this is helpful, and I would consider reading my marathon fueling strategy from before California International Marathon if you need more details, and what I use.Click To Tweet
What I talked about today, have you been there?
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