Friday, July 21, 2006

Full of Frustrations

A brief history for those of you who haven't been following along since day one:

I've been running off and on for the past 9 years. Never very far or never very consistently. Usually a 3 mile loop around my neighborhood to get some exercise and try not to grow out of my wardrobe.

Prior to January 2006, the farthest I had ever run was 4 miles, twice. The first time was amazing, with the pride and accomplishment I felt. The second time, made me want to kill myself to stop the pain.

I have always wanted to run a marathon, and thought that a good first step would be to run a half marathon, and see how it went. So, I did that and ran the Indy Mini in May 2006. It was an amazing experience and left me wanting more, so I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon and here I am.

Keeping all of that in mind, on to today's post:

Today's run was a slow 9 miles, and when I say slow I am so not kidding!


Mile 1 13:34
Mile 2 12:49
Mile 3 13:39
Mile 4 12:37
Mile 5 12:51
Mile 6 13:15
Mile 7 12:12
Mile 8 11:55
Mile 9 12:18

I set my alarm for 5:00 AM, and was up by 5:02 and out the door at 5:30, so I must have learned a thing or two last week to get out the door so quickly. I had planned out a new route to try, but I didn't realize how dark it was outside at that hour, so I changed my mind as I didn't want to be running along major roads in the dark. Instead I did the run up and down the streets of my neighborhood.

I was hoping to go 10 miles, but my goal was really just to make it farther than the 8 from last week. The first 4 1/2 miles were uneventful and pretty comfortable. The last 4 1/2 were pretty tough and it was all I could do to keep myself moving forward.

I stopped around mile 5 for some GU and water, and started back up again. I had literally taken 2 steps and my mp3 player battery died. I choose to just keep going, thinking I'd stop to replace it the next time I stopped for some water.

So, I decided to spend the next 1.5 miles of silence having a little chat with myself.

I'm not in a good place right now. And I'm slowly starting to hate all this and am wondering what I am doing.

I've really been struggling the past few weeks with my training. With the motivation, with finding the time to run, with the heat, with how hard it still feels, with how frustrated I'm getting.

By now I can comfortably run 4 miles without feeling too exhausted, and that is assuming that I am running at a slow pace. On a really good day, 5 - 6 miles doesn't feel too bad. Anything more than that is a struggle for me. So, on my long runs I spend at least the second half doing everything I can to keep myself moving forward.

On the long runs, I'm finding myself quitting before the intended mileage is complete because I feel like I just can't go another step. My body feels tired and my mind seems to be unwilling or unable to keep it moving.

So, instead of the intense sense of pride and accomplishment I felt while training for Indy - the excitement over completing a new distance for the first time - the amazement over what I was accomplishing - I am feeling frustration and self doubt constantly. I'm wondering what the hell I am doing this for.

I'm thinking about quitting.

Just unlacing the shoes and walking away. Because I don't have to be doing this!

But then I feel like a quitter, and I'm so not a quitter.

And I will be giving up on the biggest dream I have ever had, and it will haunt me for the rest of my life.

So, in all reality, for my peace of mind, I really do need to do this.

I just don't know where I am going to find the strength to get through this training. I keep trying to figure out what I am doing differently from last time to make it feel so much harder. Is it because I changed the days I run, and now do a short run on the day before long run day, where before I wasn't running that day? Is it because of PT the day before long run day, where Sean has me doing a lot of strengthening exercises that leave my legs quite sore? Is it the heat? Is it the fact that I'm not used to running in the early AM?

Or have I just lost something? Like my ignorance, perhaps? And now that the difficulty of the task I have set for myself has shown itself, I'm just not up for the challenge?

I sit here with my right knee aching, my left ankle down right hurting (ever since last night's orthotic trial), and my legs feeling like dead weights, wondering if I can actually make it through 3 more months of this.

Someone please, oh please, tell me that it is going to get better. Or if that's not true, then remind me how amazing it will feel to cross the finish line and help me realize why I am putting myself through this torture.


  1. It will get better! Not because we'll tell you it will, but because you know you will. You, like the rest of us training for a marathon, have put aside a chunk of your life to dedicate to this feat. It's something you're doing for yourself, i'd wager.

    I'm not saying it'll get easier, because i'm also staring down the tunnel and see longer mileage, hotter days. But you'll get stronger, fitter, as you put in the miles. You'll get used to the long runs. Maybe the mp3 player will tune out and you'll tune into your breathing, your strides. It's the beautiful thing about our sport, it's simple and hard, all the the same time. Stick with it, and we'll all see you at the starting line and you'll get yourself to the finish...

  2. Oh I have been there! I was there in January, February and March. You will not quit. You can't quit. If this is your dream then you have to do it. Will it get better? I honestly don't know the answer. But what I do definately know that when you cross that finish line it was all worth it. I was on such a high when I completed my half marathon. (no desire for the real thing...tried, but it's not there) I am still proud of myself for doing it, and doing it under the time I allowed myself. I wouldn't change those 10 mile runs in 30mph winds where I was gasping for breath. I'm just glad my half was in March and not in September.

    It's a shame you don't have a marathon running partner. That would be a big help. I signed up for the race with a friend and told everyone I knew that I was doing it so I couldn't quit.

    Good luck.

  3. It will get easier. The first full marathon you train for is unarguably the hardest, mostly because you don't really know what to expect, and it seems so much farther than the 1/2.
    Believe in yourself and use that desire to finish and achieve this dream as your incentive during those last hard miles. I always try to tell myself that not finishing will feel worse than any pain I may feel during the training.
    I recommend switching your schedule again. Take the day before your long run off completely. Switch your PT around, don't do the short run the day before, the short run the day after. If you hate mornings, try running at've already said that you love night running.
    I agree with M, a training partner will make all the difference. Even if they don't want to do the whole race, find someone to do just a few miles of your long run with every week.
    Try changing a few things and see if that brings back the joy or the more positive outlook on Chicago. It's too early to be burnt out already! You can totally do this! We're with you on it!

  4. Great job on not quiting:) You're going to need that experience when you run your marathon. Just remember, once you finish a marathon, you can do anything:)!


  5. Quitting does not solve anything. It will only feed your frustration and your psychi. Take it one day at time. Focus on the reasons you are running and why you started running.

  6. set the goal (which you have)and like firefly says take it one day at a time, and try to think of all the positives, and frankly sometimes just don't think of running at all, focus on something else and create that balance mentioned in loras blog

    just think at christmas time you'll be sipping the ol egg nog and saying "yeah, i ran a marathon this year"


  7. I agree about the running partner. Just for the long runs. It made a world of difference for me to have T run my long runs with me.

    Also, remember this. You are training in the worst possible heat. It WILL make you stronger in Oct. T and trained in 95+ temps in GA for the San Diego marathon. When we got out there, it was a balmy 85 degrees and that gave us so much more get-up-and-go.

    One other thing: you've already proven that you can run 13 miles so everything up until then will be easy. But, you have to tell yourself that over and over again. When I run and am ready to quit I say to myself "Amy is a runner...Amy can run far....etc" and it actually helps. Then when I would get to those uncharted waters (everything over 13 miles for you) I would reward myself in my head. "Mile 14 today: one DQ blizzard for me".

    Oh, and you should be running those long runs at less than race pace anyway. I told myself I was okay with running 13 min miles. I usually came in between 11 and 12 min miles, but I figured 13 min miles would give me a 5:21 marathon which I was totally okay with. The goal was to finish, not to beat anyone's records. I ended up running it in 5:00:49!

    Okay, I think that's enough motivation for now :) Ultimately, you know you can do it!

  8. Someone two days ago told me this: "The only one you need to compare yourself to is you. Pride over a new mileage accomplished, or a run finished a little bit faster than last week. That's where those high's are going to come from."
    That was from you!

    WE are totally in the same headspace right now. But we can get out of this funk with the small changes that we've already thought about. You by switching your sked, me with going back to solo running.

    Your splits are fine, and I say that because that's as comfortable a pace that I can maintain. Really! Time is of no importance in your first marathon. We just need to not quit.

    I'll see you at the finish line.

  9. Ahhh...come on! Get up! Smile! You are doing fabulous. And haven't you heard? "Slow and steady wins the race." Take care of your body...listen to what it is trying to tell you and remember that probably every distant runner has felt what you are going through now. It'll get better!

  10. there's a quote on anne's (rundmz) blog, "if you're running through hell, keep running". i know right now it FEELS like hell, but it can only get better, and you sure as hell have to keep moving forward to not be STUCK where you are now.

    maybe all you need is to take a step back and not try so hard, if that makes sense. relax, rest, pamper...soon enough you'll miss it so much you'll remember why you loved it.

    i have no doubt you will conquer chicago.

  11. wow, thanks for writing my post for me. I am so not kidding. I'm exactly where you are right now. EXACTLY. only i couldn't even write about it! So thanks to all your commentors, too, especially the person who said 13-min miles were ok! (And those are my splits from my saturday 10-miler, too!)
    and yes, it's the humidity, the heat, the injuries, and the run the day before your long run. I would DEFINITELY take that day OFF from everything, PT included. Meanwhile, if you can't run for another week, try to do some crosstraining. It's miserable too, but in a different way! Let's try to hang in there together.