The week before a half marathon (or marathon)

I am three days away from my third half marathon. The first one, I trained diligently. The second, I barely trained and essentially ignored nutritional training, with the excuse of being too stressed. I was disappointed in my results, and have set forth to smash both race times. This year, I have trained, making my runs a priority (and even lightening my leg strength days a tad). My nutrition and hydration have been adapted to the change in demands I have been placing on my body.

I do not feel ready.

I will be running 13.1 miles on Sunday and I am freaking out. The good news? This is perfectly normal.

The taper

For those who do not know about training for an endurance run, any solid training plan will require reduced mileage in the weeks prior to a race. After spending 8-20 weeks of progressively increasing mileage, you begin to cut miles. This allows your body to recover and recoup for the big race.

It does not do a whole lot of favors for the mind.

I have not been running far enough.

The weather

Many of my friends (aka Fit Chix with Quick Stix) are running the full marathon this weekend. In our conversations, it is obvious that many of us are experiencing weakened confidence. We are all unsure. The weather has changed drastically in the last few weeks here in the Midwest – from snow less than two weeks ago to 80 degrees and sunny today. Most of our training was completed in 0-60 degree weather. Feeling the exhaustion of the HOTTER – but much shorter – runs, has left many of us insecure and pessimistic. I am sitting here, bloated from my attempt to hydrate, and I am worried.

What if I overheat?

I am praying for 60 degrees and rain on race day. I do not like heat. I would prefer to use water stations to hydrate, rather than to use them to pour over my head and cool off. Sure, I could stop at each station and do both – but that would slow me down and I am on a time crunch.

Mind over matter

Endurance events require a great deal of mental strength. The physical training is easy – in comparison. The hard part of training? The days and hours leading up to a long run, “Ok, I am going to go out and run 10 miles….” Anticipatory thoughts do not necessarily require us to believe that we can do it – they require us to want to.

You have to WANT to.

Many individuals joke that all marathoners are crazy. Crazy is a word many individuals use to describe determined, dedicated, motivated, and ambitious individuals. Do marathoners maintain or obtain a unique mental state and mind set? Yes, marathoners are mental athletes (by the way, ALL true athletes are mental athletes). You find a way to clear your mind of everything else and you simply run.

Vicarious experience

At this stage, my confidence must be drawn from vicarious experience. I have successfully completely two half marathons. I am in better physical condition and am running faster than I have for either of them – I KNOW I can do this. Several weeks ago I ran a strong 11 miles and had energy to spare – I KNOW I can do this.

I know, therefore I can.

The hardest part for me, along with the taper, is the overall resting. I am done lifting until after the race. I am determined to meet my challenging goal and I need to ensure I am rested. Just as my Sunday long run took a toll on my April 1 assessment workout, I do not want my workouts to impact my long run. THE long run.

The bottomline

The final week(s) prior to any endurance race is difficult. It can be a challenge to keep your head in the game, not allowing your confidence to waiver.

Mentally – I KNOW I can. Physically – I KNOW I can. Therefore, I CAN.

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. ~Hebrews 12:1

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4 thoughts on “The week before a half marathon (or marathon)

  1. You can do it! Just remember to enjoy yourself. I know it’s a challenge for you, but tame your competitive/type a and have fun! It’s more about the journey than the finish. Good luck!

  2. Pingback: Recovery: After a long, hard run | StrongBraveHonest

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