Racing is made up of lines — starting lines, finish lines, point-to-point courses. But training for a marathon is anything but linear.
Four weeks ago I completed a half marathon. Logically speaking, this means I’m halfway there for marathon training, right? Wrong. While it may have been tempting to use the 13.1 mile race as a launchpad into 14, 15, and 16-milers, I’ve taken quite the opposite approach. During the past month I’ve traded my running trail for a yoga mat, swimming pool, and bicycle. I’ve limited myself to running only twice per week, and no distances over 10 miles.
This seems like a risky choice. How can I become a better runner if I’m not running very often? Aren’t I more likely to lose stamina or momentum? Can I afford to take a month off from training? Truth be told, I’m not worried, not even a little. I haven’t stopped my training, I’ve just taken it in a different direction.
This month has been a necessary change, both physically and mentally. As healthy as I feel when I run, there’s no denying the physical toll it takes on a body. My knees and toes (and head and shoulders, naturally) are enjoying the new activities. Taking the time to cross-train has allowed me to simultaneously rest and strengthen. More importantly, this month has been a much needed mental break. I committed to a marathon, which means I committed to hours and hours of running over the next several months. It’s going to get hard and it’s going to get boring. I can’t risk burning out now.
Soon I’ll switch gears again and resharpen my focus on running, but I’m grateful for the variety of the past few weeks. All my swimming, cycling, and downward dogging have only reaffirmed my love of running. The time spent away from the road makes me excited to return. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, and I’ll need that love to get me to the finish line.
I know my body is capable of running 26.2, but if my mind and heart lose interest, I don’t stand a chance.