So here are some of the issues weighing on me that have been affecting my training:
- The weather. Well, that's a given in any serious runner's life. Like a carrot hanging from a string 10 feet in front of me, Mother Nature has thrown a few nice days at us - 40 degrees or higher, sunshine, dry roads - and then like the tricky, deceptive enigma that she is, she dealt us more snow, hail, rain, wind and cold temperatures. Sometimes I think training for a spring marathon is for the birds.
- Fighting a virus. I haven't gotten sick in a long, long time. Not this sick. I picked up a nasty head/chest cold and it has totally kicked my butt. Lasted over two weeks. I'm still not feeling 100%. It sucks the life right out of ya.
- Increase in mileage = injuries and shaken confidence. As I'm getting closer to the marathon (8 weeks out now), I've been adding longer runs and running more days per week. After spending the previous 12 or 13 weeks focusing on my strength training and reducing my running, this increase has really taken a toll. First, my hamstrings started acting up so every long run has become more and more painful. This makes me wonder how I ever ran a marathon before. On my last long run, which was 17 miles, my legs were hurting so badly that I had to rely completely on my mental strength to make it through the last 6 or 7 miles. And now I'm having serious pain in my back. As an old herniated disc has decided to flare up and give me problems, I have had to stop running altogether. :(
- Balancing personal life with training. When things are peaceful in our home, it's a lot easier to focus on my training. The past couple of months things haven't been peachy-keen within our family dynamics, which makes me feel like I'm on an emotional roller coaster. I feel like I'm being self-centered when I focus on my training with the intensity that I am used to. Sometimes there are other, more important things that take our attention away. But that means my training suffers.
I also will have to adjust and modify my weight training exercises. For instance, barbell squats are out, as are bent over long bar rows and front raises. I also have lots of pain doing pretty much all of my ab exercises. This sucks.
On a positive note, though...I had a fitness assessment with Misty last Wednesday where I learned I am now just over 19% body fat and it feels pretty dang awesome to be in the 'teens! Misty has helped me fine tune my nutrition plan and apparently we're having some success achieving the right balance of fueling all of my workouts while maintaining a small calorie deficit to accelerate fat loss. I'm at about 2000 calories a day, I eat 6-7 smallish meals, all consisting of a lean protein and a complex carbohydrate. Lots of turkey, sweet potatoes, cottage cheese, veggies, oats, berries and protein powder. :)
Another highlight came when I was doing my weekly pull-ups. I was using a new spotter - a guy working in the the weight room unfamiliar with the way I usually do them. He didn't give me much "help" when I did my first few pull-ups and I basically did them all by myself. That was on Monday. I was sore in my lats the rest of the week. :)
I guess what I'm struggling with the most is the mental aspect of coming to terms with the idea that this might not be my best race. With each of the 5 other marathons I've done, I improved with each - some I made a lot of improvement. I honestly can't say I've ever had a "bad" race experience. I've read about other runner's racing experiences and there are always good races and bad races, and I could never imagine a race being bad. Now I'm not saying that I'm anticipating that this marathon will turn out that way. Of course I'm hoping for the best possible outcome - a beautiful, sunny day, me feeling well-trained, rested and ready to go on race day, injury-free. I'm also trying to prepare myself to accept any outcome, knowing that some things are out of my control. Luckily I still have 8 weeks to whip my body and my attitude back into shape.