Reflections on the Run #5: Self Doubt and Trusting the Process

A little over two weeks out from race day, and those old familiar doubts have started to creep in. It started the other day when I had to abort a tempo run. Though the temps were coolish (mid-60’s) the relative humidity was at 95%. Distance running is made infinitely more difficult in high humidity. The evaporation of sweat is how the body cools itself, and high humidity makes that nearly impossible. The evening prior to this run I had just completed a tough kettle bell workout, and as I started my tempo run that morning it became immediately clear that my legs did not like me.

Now, this is not unusual in marathon training. Typically runners will just toss about slogans like “shut up legs” and keep on slogging. However, no matter how much I told my legs to churn faster, it ended up being my legs that told me to quit.

It’s an awful feeling, quitting. Demoralizing. I was only two miles in to what was supposed to be a 10 mile tempo run (practicing marathon race pace). I jogged back home and set about to try to evaluate what was going on. I’ve been trying not to get too psyched out about it. In training like this some runs are good, some are bad. One or two bad workouts don’t ruin your training segment, it’s much more about the accumulated fitness. And the truth is, I’ve really only had one or two truly horrible runs in this whole training segment. My mantra to train smarter, not just harder will hopefully pay dividends come December 4th.

I know that it is not unusual to start doubting your training as race day approaches. Runners are often told to “trust your training” or “trust the process.” It’s difficult though, knowing that race day is fast approaching and wondering whether all of your hard work will be enough.

Tomorrow morning I’m running with a friend who will be pacing the marathon significantly faster than I will be. He’s shooting for a 2:30-something finishing time (that’s a 5:50 pace per mile), whereas I’m just hoping for something in the 3:07 range (7:03 pace per mile). I know there may be people who read this who have a hard time even comprehending what it would be like to run 26.2 miles, or to break 4 hrs. In the sport of running, however, most of us don’t run in order to be the first to break the tape. We all run for our own reasons.The thing about running is that I am not running to beat everyone else. I am running to beat my own goals. And right now, that goal is to run a Boston qualifying time.

It’s risky. I hate the thought of failing again. But I’m trying to trust the training and enjoy the process.

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