“The Marathon can humble you” ~ Bill Rodgers.
For those of you who don’t know who Bill Rodgers is, google him. He won the Boston Marathon four times and the New York Marathon four times. Great guy as well.
I use this quote to summarize my first week of training leading up to my first marathon in almost 23 months this May. Week 1 was humbling. This morning on the treadmill I was running and Amy was there running with me as she is training as well and about half way through the 6 miles I looked at the time and said, “you know two years I would have been a mile and half ahead of where I am now and wouldn’t even have been sweating!” She was kind enough to let me know to let go of the past and focus on the present. She used a few other choice words as well that I won’t use here. She is right too. Every time I get out there and run or do something I always try to compare to what I was doing when I was in the best shape of my life…Running a new marathon about every 8 weeks a half marathon about every 6 weeks. Throw in some 5 and 10K’s and winning a few of them, I was on top of the world fitness and health wise. Times have changed and my training took a back seat to life and everything that goes with it. I still am in relatively decent shape but no where near where I was and I need to stop thinking in the past and focus on the now. This is true about everything we all do. No matter what it is, or what you have done in the past…it is just that. It is history and the only things we can do is work hard today and focus on tomorrow.
So with week 1 done, I want to talk about it and go through the highs and the lows.
Monday – 4 Miles Easy at a pace of between 8:55 and 9:05. I was energized and ready. Had a really good run. Finished at a 9:01 pace overall and was quite pleased. Training had begun and it had begun on a good note. Strength was all about the legs with the lunges and the squats, leg curls and toe lifts. All done and done pretty easily. I left the gym feeling pretty dang good.
Tuesday – Woke up Tuesday a little stiff but not too bad. Today called for a total of 5 miles. 2 nice and easy and 3 tempo miles at pretty good paces. 60 second rest in between the 2 and the 3 miles. The 2 miler went fine…hit my target pace of 9:05…the Tempo run…not so much. Mile 1 was 8:55 and should have been 8:40, Mile 2 was 8:31 and should have been 8:10 and mile 3 was 9:12 and should have been 9:05. Strength went well and then I forgot that I had not done my rowing from the day before so I did that and then knocked out 4 easy miles on the bike. Not a fun workout by any means and my intensity was lacking at the end…but it was done and I called it good. Not feeling nearly as great as I was on Monday.
Wednesday – 3 miles easy on the track. This run was a complete FAIL. Goal time was around 29 minutes and it took me 33. Felt like a complete failure that I couldn’t run 3 miles in under 30 minutes. All I could think about was my 5K PR which is a 19:42 and why in hell could I not run 3 in under 30. My legs felt like jello and my body was revolting against me. Strength was push-ups and trunk twists and I could have basically skipped them with the amount of intensity I put into them. Pathetic and I left the gym feeling like a complete failure. Starting having doubts. Maybe I can’t get back what I had. Very disappointed with myself.
Thursday – Rest day and I needed it badly.
Friday – 5 miles of hills. Started at a 5.0 incline at a speed of about 11:40 per mile and then decreased the incline every mile by 1 and increased the speed every mile by .2. Suffice it to say that by just past the 3 mile mark I was ready to quite and so instead of quitting I simply reduced the incline and ran the rest basically flat. I was honestly near tears. I have always loved hills and I have always been good at them. Any race that had hills I knew I had an advantage over some of the faster runners and in the past, this has helped me to win my age group. Quick story…there is a 5K in Pensacola every October called..go figure…the Pumpkin run. This run always brings out the faster runners and in my age group, there were some pretty fast men. At just past the 2 mile point in this race, there is a hill that goes for .68 miles and though it is not super steep…maybe a 3% grade…it is long and every year I ran that race…that was where I would take the lead over everyone in my age group. I won my age group every single year I ran that race and I credit that to doing so much hill work. When you hit flat ground again it is almost like you are running downhill…by the time I got to the top of the hill I had at least a 30 second advantage over everyone else. It was always a great feeling….well after todays run…again I felt awful and despondent. I was just not the same. Had more leg work to do and I did it but I felt like leaving.
Saturday – 6 Mile Semi Long Run…Did it. Not very fast, overall pace was 9:40 when it should have been 9:00 even. But I was happy to have gone out and ran with Amy because she knocked some damn sense into me and let me know that, as I stated above, I need to get out of the past and into today. So what that you are slower, work harder to get your speed back. So what that this was a struggle…keep doing what you are doing and it won’t be. And this here is the key…..
No matter what you do, whether you feel like you succeeded or failed, we need to look at the effort that was placed into it. I will be the first to say that my effort this week was lacking and I think it was because mentally I lost it. Today taught me a very valuable lesson and one that I preach to my clients all the time. Not every workout is going to be easy, not every workout is going to be fun. It if was, that would get boring quick. Every workout however does need to mean something. I will say with complete honesty that they did this week. Now on to week 2 with a new sense of determination to get past this little bump in the road and prove to myself that I can and will get back to the condition I was in 23 months ago.
Jim Parker is the owner and operator of Muffins to Marathons – Fit 4 Life and the Fit 4 Life Race Series. If you have a comment for this story, please feel free to add your comments. If you would like to contact Jim with a story or an idea please contact him at email@example.com or on twitter @M2M_Fit4Life