Most of you know I lived in Athens, Greece while going to high school. I shove that bit of trivia down your throat every chance I get. I love that place. Today there was a huge storm in Athens, and this photo was taken:
Doesn’t even look real, huh?
While the Parthenon was getting struck by lightening bolts, I kicked off my 16 week marathon training with a big, crappy tempo run. When I have lousy runs I like to blame it on things other than my fitness level. For example, I ran at 7:45 a.m. and it was almost 80 degrees. Certainly this had an impact. I also ran with my ass aching. 80 degrees + ass aching = big, crappy run. Good news is I did not crap on this run.
The reality is, however, that my fitness is the problem. While I’ve kept up with my running since my last marathon in May, I haven’t done any speed work and my body forgot how. Today’s tempo was supposed to be:
2 miles easy, 2 miles tempo (@7:54) and 2 miles easy. What is easy, you ask? Probably about a 9 min/mile I’d guess.
I was all over the place:
Mile 1: 8:32 – WTF? This is supposed to be my warm up mile. Slow the heck down. I stopped to stretch the ass.
Mile 2: 8:28 – Again, too fast for being “easy.”
Mile 3: 7:30 – I am all over the place. This was supposed to be 7:54. No wonder I am gasping and dying.
Mile 4: 8:13 – Slower than tempo. Shit.
Mile 5: 9:05 – Really tired and hot by now.
Mile 6: 9:15 – Total degradation. Couldn’t have run much further today.
End result = 6 miles/51:09/8:31 avg.
Here’s what I know. Starting off marathon training is mentally tough. Humbling is the correct word. You know you have many strenuous weeks ahead. You stare at your training schedule with all of its boxes and paces and long run mileages and feel tired. You fear injury. You have goals and question if you can meet them. If you have my brain, you are thinking, “Wow. Just six weeks ago I ran 26.2 miles with an 8:28 average. Today I can barely run 6 miles at an 8:30.” Basically, despite any excitement you might have about getting started, you get psyched out.
Running is an interesting thing. While we can increase our endurance by leaps and bounds and even train our bodies to go faster, we can quickly lose these benefits just as fast as we gained them. With running there are days when you feel like you are flying and days when you feel like your legs just won’t go. Or you can’t breathe. Or you don’t feel like running. Sometimes it’s impossible to know why the good days are good and why the bad days are bad. We try to dissect all the pieces to learn how to repeat what we did when the run was strong, but it doesn’t always work that way.
One thing I am learning about starting a training plan is that confidence is essential. Confidence that your fitness will return. Confidence that your body will adapt. Confidence that when race day comes you will be ready for the challenge. Even when your ass hurts.
Tomorrow I take the day off to get my butt massaged. I happen to like that very much.