After last year's disaster of a half marathon (I am proud I finished my fourth half, but having heat stroke was the worst) I decided to take a long break from running any sort of distances. I decided not to have any halves on the horizon and if I never ran a half again, I was ok with that. That heat stroke really did a number on me, and on top of that, I was feeling over running in general.
Since June 2013, I ran a couple of days a week, maybe three at most, and all short distances. It was a wonderful break.
But now I am back at it, training for another half, and I would love to PR, so I am trying to train hard.
I have been training since late January and will continue training until June 1, the date of the half. I know that is a long training period, but I am trying a new plan, that has me going up to 15 miles, and I am tailoring it a bit to add double long runs of most distances (run 10 miles twice, 11 miles twice, 12 miles twice, and so on). It is a long time to commit to running for 2 hours or so every weekend. But So far it has felt great and I am so proud that my body is letting me do this once again.
Training for any distance in Vermont in the winter is tough. It is snowy or icy or cold or dark. The roads are not always safe with ice and snow buildup on the sides. I am hoping the spring weather will be here soon so I can get my butt outdoors, but so far I have done all of my training on the treadmill we bought this fall (with the exception of a couple of short runs on nice days). Side note to my husband who said I would never use the thing because "everyone who buys treadmills just discards them and uses them as drying racks." HA! I showed you! Since buying it in November I have put over 300 miles on the old girl!
Today I had 11 miles planned. I went down to the treadmill and my heart was not in it. I did not want to run 11 miles today. I was ready to run 11 miles if it was a lovely 50 degrees and sunny and all down hill and there were flowers and other people out enjoying spring, but it was 27 and I was running in my basement once again. I walked down and said to myself "it might suck, but in less than two hours you will be done and you will feel great." And my long runs recently have been wonderful. Every weekend I hop on the machine and before I know, 6 miles are done and then 8 and then 10. It has been easy running 9-11 miles for the last month. It has been great.
But today I looked down and I had just barely done 4 miles. I still had 7 long miles to go. At this point in the game, the point where my body is fully capable of running 11 miles as it has countless other times, it is mind of matter. If your mind is not in it, a run is brutal. Every MINUTE ticks by in your head and ever tenth of a mile feels like 3 miles. At mile four I told myself "just make it to mile 6. A solid hour. Then run 11 miles next weekend instead." At mile 6 I took a little break but then told myself, "just run to 7. One more mile. 7 is so much more impressive than 6." But as I was running that extra mile, I told myself, "keep running to 11. You are already at 7. And you have nothing else planned for this chunk of time today. If you don't run to 11 miles you will lay in bed and watch 'House of Cards' instead and and you have plenty of other time to do that. Just keep going."
So I did. It wasn't fun, and it wasn't pretty. But I ran 11 miles once again. And I am so glad I did. Partially for pride, partially to tell the voice in my head that it's NOT ok to quit, partially for the feeling I get when I accomplish something that is really hard, and partially to eat some half baked ice cream without guilt.
But mostly for the first three.