The Training Hangover

I have decided that tapering after a nasty month of training is like waking up from a long night of drinking. I feel more tired and beat up than I did in training. I’m incredibly emotional, I’m hungry, and I think my body is realizing what I just did to it for the last weeks. I forget that tapering is not actually this magical, restorative time – more like an awful hangover combined with nerves and a lot of extra energy from not running as much.

I hate love the marathon because it asks for a full commitment. You cannot half-assedly train for a marathon and expect good results. The marathon asks for all of you. It is so incredibly uncomfortable and it sucks a lot but at the end of the day, you stand in awe of what you are capable of, how far you have come, your perseverance. Quite frankly, you feel like a badass – like you got into a fight with a grizzly bear and won. Your body also feels like you got into a fight with a grizzly bear. That goes away eventually. The glory lasts forever.

Every time I train for a marathon, I go to what I think is my limit. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I think I have gone as far as I can. And then I still have about 4 weeks of training left. And I have to tap into the reserves I didn’t know I had. The little bits of strength I can scrape together. I learn a lot about grit and heart and perseverance. When you are 7 miles from home, you don’t have many options but to keep pressing on. One more step. One more mile.

The marathon asks for your mornings, your Saturday nights so you can rest for your long run, your Sunday mornings, your Sunday afternoons spent recovering. It asks for your time, your energy. I think my legs have been constantly sore since January and I have shoes that won’t fit again until May.

I had a fleeting moment where I felt strong this morning. Standing at a stoplight, waiting for the light to change – the sun was rising, I could see the steam rising off me, the air was cool and I felt strong. For a brief moment. It was glorious. Alas, the light changed and I was back to trying to move my concrete legs through air that felt thick as molasses.

But it was in that moment that I caught a glimpse of who I have become. What this process has shaped me into. And that was enough to keep my moving. Sometimes that’s all you need – just a little glimpse. Just a little bit of faith in who you are, a little belief in the strong legs that have carried you so many miles. A little trust that you will rise to the challenge at hand.

Press on.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
Maya Angelou


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