Forward Progress

I finished 16 miles this morning. I can’t technically say I ran 16 because there was a lot of walking involved. Like, a lot. I’m getting into the most serious part of marathon training, and I’ve pretty much burned through my buffer weeks. (Loving reminder: ALWAYS build buffer weeks into your training plan! Life will always get in the way, and on the off chance the stars align, enjoy your bonus runs!)

Today’s run had to happen, and happen it did. As pretty as the scenery was, I can’t say the same for my running. I chose to run where there’s a public track at the base of a 2.5 mile, 300 foot elevation gain hill. This spot is one of my favorites because it gives me options between flat and hilly, and I can adjust my plan mid-run as needed. Plan A was: 2 flat miles to warm up, then a 5 mile loop up and down the hill, then a 2 flat mile break, another 5 mile hill loop, and 2 mile cool down for a total of 16. Midway up the the hill, I felt sluggish and heavy, and I knew I didn’t have a second ascent in me. No problem, I figured, I can do extra (boring) laps around the track. However with no shade and a rising temperature, after about 6 laps I knew this was not sustainable. My options now became: push myself back up the shaded hill, overheat on the asphalt, or quit.

Back up I went. It was brutal. The elevation was just as hard as it was the first time, with the added joy of being more tired, less hydrated, and running under warmer temperatures. Such a glamorous pastime I’ve fallen in love with, isn’t it? I wheezed and panted and had to walk more than I like. But I finished.

Pretty much every long run I’ve had for the last month or so has been some version of, “That was rough, but next week will be better.” Except it keeps happening every week, and it doesn’t get better. I always seem to forget that this part of training is always going to be hard. Somehow I block these memories out and just skip to the fun party where I get a medal, but I’m in the thick of it now where every week is going to be hard.

I really do love running, and even more than that, I love feeling strong and healthy. Training for marathons is the path that gets me there. I know what I’m continually signing on for, and it’s an overall process I enjoy. But manalive, there are phases that require everything I’ve got.

The race in October will be incredibly fun, and I’m so excited for it to happen. But between now and then, I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other to continue making progress — even if that means walking.

One thought on “Forward Progress

  1. Hello, Kate – a great description of you endeavors and feelings!
    I am not one of those experts but I have run 21 marathons and have audacity to claim having some experience accumulated over 8 years. Because of that, here is my timid and shy combination of a comment, advice, annotation, a hint of my suggestion:

    You do not need hilly training at that stage of your running life. You are not preparing for Big Sur or any other notoriously hilly marathon. Chicago will require endurance from you which a flat type of endurance! The whole process of training will become more enjoyable and more productive – I dare to say. Spring Corridor, starting from Johnson Creek towards Powell Butte is an example of what is very suitable and enjoyable. And it will give you enough challenge to be able to continue writing those inspiring and nice to read blogging!

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