Marathon prep: Gotta step past a miserable training run

Stop me, if you’ve heard this one. I had a terrible, horrible, abysmal, no-good, rotten, painful, agonizing, dreadful, nasty, nightmare long training run. And I’ve gotta go do a full marathon soon.

I can hardly wait. But I mostly can’t wait till it’s over.

This marathon (my first) sounded like a super idea last fall, when the race countdown clock read “300 days” to go. Now we’re into the final three weeks before the big day. I don’t exactly have cold feet, even though I’ve had to ice them (along with various other body parts) more than once.

But I am definitely overthinking the whole deal, right about now.

I’ve been using a popular marathon training schedule and marking off miles daily (or pretty much so) on a calendar. About a week and a half ago, I did the second 18-miler in the program. The first one had gone pretty well, a couple of weeks before that. My splits were fairly consistent, averaging about 2.5 minutes per mile slower than my usual 5K pace.

“I can live with that,” I told myself.

Then I did the second 18-miler. It was a disaster.

The day kind of got away from me. I didn’t get out on the open road till afternoon, when the August sun was high and hot. The humidity was agonizing. Summer thunderstorms loomed in the area. An ongoing Achilles tendonitis issue still nagged me.

But the run had to be done, so I filled up my Camelbak and stepped out.

The first few miles were downhill. (We all know what that means.) But by mile 5, I was already sore and sweaty and significantly slower than usual. My guts began cramping around mile 9, even though I was hydrating religiously and nibbling on energy snacks along the way. By the time the rain began falling (around mile 12), I was already soaked and overheated and grateful for the relief. My phone died at mile 15, taking my music with it.

“Can this get any worse?” I moaned.

I crawled into my driveway at 18.1, as the sun disappeared along the horizon.

But my mood was even darker than my neighborhood at that point. I slogged my way into my air-conditioned home, where the drastic temperature change hit me like a truck. Immediately, I dashed for the powder room, where I threw up (from a very empty stomach).

‘Nuff said. (Or maybe too much.) You get the idea. I was miserable.

“How am I gonna do a full 26.2 miles, if 18 just undid me?” I groaned.

OK, it was a terrible training run.

Too bad. So sad.

All runners have horrible runs, once in a while, if we do this thing long enough. And the road to the marathon still beckons.

The final (and longest) long training run awaits. I gotta do a 20-mile run before the pre-race tapering starts in a few days.

“Scratch that bad run,” a veteran marathoner told me. “You punished your body and finished it. Good for you. That’s all that matters. Start fresh with the 20-miler. You can do this.”

Adapted from public domain photo

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