17 weeks to marathon race day. 4+ weeks into training for it. Where am I? How am I feeling?
Generally, I’m feeling OK about where I’m at. Statistically, I’m right where I need to be. Up to 35 miles of running in my last week. Hitting a few sub 8 min/mile threshold runs. My marathon goal requires me to run an average pace of 7:03 per mile. I can run that pace for about 5 or 6 miles at this point, but no further. Yet, as mentioned, I have 17 weeks to dial that in. Plus, I’m injury-free and the stoke and excitement to lace up and get out the door even in the cold and rain is still there. In fact, it’s more there when it is raining.
Over 17 hours and 100 miles of running since training started. Just about 700 miles to go. Add in strength and conditioning, some surfing, and the occasional bike ride and pool swim and I hope to be right where I need to be to show up at the start line ready to give my best to achieve a personal best.
There is no way I could hit any running goal if I wasn’t consistently doing strength and conditioning sessions with my excellent coach and fellow classmates. My strength and conditioning sessions, mainly high-intensity interval training or HIIT, have been kicking my ass. But in a good way. These sessions are 45 minutes with around 30 minutes of it being performance-based or endurance-based activities. And there are typically about three or four of us in the class encouraging each other on. I’m feeling progress, I feel as if I can hold the intensity longer. Meaning I can row, ski, bike, jump, and lift longer before I burn out. Not by much, but noticeable and reassuring. Right now, I’m going twice a week but with just six weeks to go before race day I’ll start going three days a week. I’ll super-compensate by adding in more strength workouts. I do have to be a touch careful not to get too overconfident and lift too much or go too hard, so I don’t injure myself but also so I’m properly able to run the way my schedule calls for. In my experience doing this type of marathon training that incorporates strength and conditioning does and will affect some runs. No surprise that some runs are difficult and painful after pushing and pulling heavy sleds, doing weighted lunges, attempting heavy-as-fudge deadlifts, or other brutal but beneficial leg routines.
It's not all rainbows and butterflies, however. One realization that keeps popping up during difficult sessions is just how far I’ve fallen from my peak fitness from just 4 months ago, sessions that once were not so difficult. I question whether I can ever get back there. Am I too old? Do I have it in me to continue to invest so much time and money in something that I’m only moderately good at? All of this to run a time that is meaningless to anyone else. I quickly flip that one around and remind myself just how fit I can be, and will be when I stay patient. And how personally satisfying it is when I pour all of myself into what ultimately has been so good to me, in many aspects of my life. From friendships to health, to travel, and added confidence in and out of my running shoes. I identify as a runner, and it feels good to do.
By the way, peak fitness is not a magic act, it’s a gradual ascent that can be unnoticeable unless you take the time to step back and ask yourself, “Where am I”.