Week 8’s lesson: LET IT GO.
Well, it’s time to ‘fess up about how Week 8 went. I was SUPPOSED to do: Monday (4), Tuesday (6), Thursday (4), and Saturday (14).
What I ACTUALLY did was: Tuesday (6), Wednesday (4), Friday (3), and Sunday (3).
Not so good.
What happened was, last Sunday, I realized I was coming down with a cold. Felt pretty bad all day Monday, and decided to sacrifice a short run and get a lot of sleep so I could (hopefully) kick the cold early and be ready for the mid run on Tuesday. It worked, and I did Tuesday pretty well…in fact, I did the whole 6 without walking at all, and beat last week’s 6 by three minutes. But I didn’t want to miss mileage for the week. So I did a 4 on the track at school on Wednesday. And my running buddy did intervals with me…so it wasn’t an easy 4 at all…which gave me a bit of an excuse to skip Thursday. Or, rather, put Thursday off till Friday. But Friday turned out to be a busy day, so Thursday’s 4 turned into Friday’s 3. Okay, that’s all right…only missing one mile for the week.
But Saturday was to be a 14. And the last time I did a long run without a rest day beforehand, I really struggled. And I was supposed to work for my mom at the shop that day, which meant I had a limited amount of time in the morning to get 14 in. AND I had something I wanted to do Friday night till kinda late. SOOO…since we’re off on Monday, I figured I could just move the long run till Sunday. Never mind that that would mean I’d do a 14, then a 4, then a 7 in three successive days.
But there was a problem: the fact that, by Friday afternoon, I felt TOTALLY disconnected from my running program. Despite the fact that I’d kicked off my fundraising this week (and netted almost $600, thanks to some TOTALLY awesome donors!), I felt like marathon training was something I hadn’t done in weeks. It felt so distant. The main reason, I think, was that I had run in my own neighborhood only ONCE the whole week (Tuesday)…I’d done intervals at the school on Wednesday, had skipped running Monday and Thursday…my days were all off…my mileage wasn’t spaced out right…I wasn’t feeling confident about the 14…I did NOT want to miss any more miles!!
THEN, I had the bright idea that my running partner and I could do a TRAIL RUN for my 14!! What a great idea!! I’ve been wanting to try a trail…but I didn’t want to do it alone the first time…and with long mileage, maybe it’d be really nice to be back in the woods, in the shade, and the miles would just tick away in a beautiful setting, without cars whizzing by, without road dust….
We got to the Prince William Forest Park Visitor’s Center early this morning. The office was closed (which I take issue with; Sunday or not, it’s a beautiful fall weekend morning and a place like this should be OPEN), but we had a map we could SORT OF read. We had a false start or two finding the trailhead, but when we found it, we were off. I was kind of a wimp at first…my running partner has done trails a million times, but it was my first one, and I couldn’t get over how strange it felt to be on a forest trail without my backpack and wearing running shoes (not even trail shoes!) instead of my hiking boots. I felt like I couldn’t see well enough to tell what kind of a line to take…like my eyesight in that light wasn’t good enough to spot rocks and roots among the leaves, even though they were sparse at this point. I felt totally out of place and more than a little embarrassed at how much I was struggling. But I did my best. We hit a couple bridges, a couple fallen trees…crossed the power lines….
…and the trail vanished. Suddenly, we were in sparse trees, with a few red streamers hanging from branches here and there, and a carpet of leaves that was entirely without a discernible trail, and that TOTALLY covered any rocks, roots, or HOLES underneath.
Which didn’t stop me from finding ALL those things. The hard way.
A rolled ankle, a few bad missteps, and a FALL later, we were only a mile in (after what seemed like forever) and I was on my rear in the leaves, my head a mess, negative thoughts flooding me, no idea when or if the path would improve, and 13 miles to go. I was totally out of my element. And I couldn’t say no when my running partner suggested we backtrack and just get out of there. She said she’d never seen such a badly-maintained “trail.” Not that we could even SEE any trail….
So, out we went. When we hit the asphalt road through the park, we took it, figuring we’d just follow where it went and try to get some more mileage in that way. It turned out to be a loop that was only about a mile long. So we headed out the entrance, back to the main road…only to find absolutely no shoulder on either side of four lanes of Rt. 1. So at that point, our options were: do ELEVEN more one-mile loops (ugh), or head home and try to think of a new plan on the way. We considered hitting the neighborhood roads (though at this point, it was past 10am and the temperature was rising), discussed bagging the long run till tomorrow (which would impact Week 9 even more than if we ran it today, since I’d be following a 14 with a 7 the next day), and even the possibility of my doing a mid run this evening and calling Week 8 dead. OR…NOT running this evening…and calling Week 8 dead!
I consulted my gurus. My dad thought any of the above plans were fine. My marathon cousin said that most marathon programs build in an “easy” or a completely OFF weekend in a 16-week program (mine does not), and that I could really benefit from a week without a long run…as long as it was only one. George said he thinks an injury Abbey sustained in one training program was the result of several successive long-run weekends with no break, and that a 50% reduction in total weekly mileage was not going to hurt my progress or my fitness level, and that trying to make up runs was almost always a recipe for stress and failure. All of them said that it was totally normal to run into a week like this one, and to just let it go if that’s what I wanted to do.
But I still struggled with the thought of sacrificing a long run. It was one thing on Monday, when only a 4 was at stake. But then, I realized that my inability to let go of a simple 4-miler had had a domino effect on the rest of the week…totally disrupting my flow, and robbing me of the rhythm of run days and rest days that made it possible for me to tackle distances that challenge me and, afterwards, to recover from tough runs. For want of a FOUR, I ended up losing a FOURTEEN. An unwillingness to pay a small price ended up costing me way more than I would ever have wanted to pay.
(And part of that price was reporting back that the 14 I had tried to tackle with my head in entirely the WRONG PLACE had tackled ME instead. Sigh. The double-edged sword of publicizing my training [which, nevertheless, I do NOT regret].)
So. The question is, did I run tonight? Did I do a mid-distance, even a SHORT run, to make up for what I lost?
I decided that I was okay with a disastrous Week 8 (which, honestly, it really WASN’T THAT bad), as long as I could start fresh with Week 9 and commit to no more disastrous…ness. I want no excuses for a bad Week 9…no carry-over at all. I want no soreness from make-up running to affect Week 9’s schedule, which is supposed to start with Sunday – a REST day. I need to do Monday and Tuesday and rest Wednesday without worrying about three runs in a row.
There’s another reason I’m deciding to let Week 8 go. I feel like if anyone out there is watching MY experience for advice or something to compare with THEIR experience, I want to be able to say, “Yeah, I had a week in my training where everything kinda fell apart for a couple days…it’s normal,” if they have a week like mine. Because my training book doesn’t address missed runs at ALL (so far as I’ve read, that is). It doesn’t offer any advice on how to handle a missed run, probably because it doesn’t want to encourage missing runs! But it’s a fault, in my mind. My head coach is a book, and I need my coach to get me back on track when I stumble. (I have great supplementary coaches, by the way…Jim, George, Leah, Pastor Jeff…but still…I picked this book’s program, and even though they give me “permission” to screw up, I want my HEAD coach to tell me what to do, too.) So, if anyone out there is reading this blog for a sense of company in their own training…I want them to know that a bad week really DOES happen, and that it’s okay. So basically, I’ll agree to take this hit in order to give someone else permission to take a hit themselves. It seems this kind of hit is inevitable, anyway.
So. The plan from here is…LET IT GO. If I have any more missed runs in the next 8 weeks (knock on wood, God knows I don’t PLAN to miss any more, and certainly NO MORE MISSED LONG RUNS), I will NOT run myself ragged (no pun intended) trying to make them up when I should be letting myself rest and recover. I can’t afford to. Mileage cranks up drastically in just two or three weeks. Short runs go to 5…mids to 8…longs will be 14-18. Letting go is just another lesson the marathon has to teach me…just like how I’ve learned to worry about “no run but today’s.”
This Saturday is supposed to be the first of three 16s. I’ll do the missed 14 instead, and follow it with two 16s before I do the two 18s in November. All will be well.
Week 9 will be better. Monday (4), Tuesday (7), Thursday (4), and Saturday (14). Week 8 is DONE, buried, over with. And it’s not enough to sink my marathon. I’m still in this.