… and, for that, I am sorry.
After completing my first half marathon on Sunday, I learned something that I kind of knew before but didn’t understand until now:
Distance training is a major time suck.
Now, I was only training for a half. At that distance, I average somewhere around a 10min/mile pace. I can step it up for shorter distances, though I find I need to warm up for at least 2 miles before I am comfortable dropping my pace down. I recently PR’ed at a 5K, and my pace really wasn’t all that much faster than that of my half marathon, but in both cases the first couple miles were much slower. I just had more time to make it up in the half.
Anyway, that’s beside the point. I run about a 10min/mile half marathon. If I was to run a marathon, this would mean about a 4.5 hour race for me. It would also mean 16-20 weeks of training at about 4 days a week, with long runs topping out at somewhere around 20-24 miles. So, this means, for at least half of this (if not more) you need to dedicate at least one day of the week for a 2-4 hour run. If you lose a “weekend” in there (to other plans, long hours at work, vacation, illness, your best friend’s wedding, minor injury, etc.), you are really scrambling to make up the time. Not to mention, most of my peers who are a similar pace/fitness level to me have either sustained some injuries in marathon training, or, in the case of one friend, just have not really been into running at all since running her marathon last spring. I do this for fitness and because I enjoy it: an injury would impede my fitness, and even if I didn’t get injured, if I get burned out then I will no longer enjoy it. These are not good outcomes for me. The cons outweigh the pros. Also, since I very much enjoy other fitness pursuits (aerobics classes, Zumba, spinning, etc.), I want to have time to enjoy those as well.
September was tough enough for me to finish up my half marathon training due to various personal and professional commitments. Fortunately, I had planned in advance for this and built it into my training. Unfortunately, the best laid plans don’t always work out that way. C and I had to reshuffle some things due to a family emergency, and suddenly I was out of town or otherwise way too busy for a long run 3 of the 4 weekends in the month before my race. I ended up doing my two longest training runs on two separate weeknights, which meant some twilight running, though fortunately I was able to pull it off, but the minor scheduling snafus had me worried that I would not be prepared.
In short, I wasn’t able to put as many total miles into my training as I had originally planned, though it was still plenty, and I was very prepared for my race and exceeded my goal. However, the hiccups were stressful and it not only solidified my decision to NOT run a marathon in the foreseeable future, I am actually questioning if I would even want to run another half marathon anytime soon. Though training plans give you incentive to get out there and keep running, they also make it a bit of a chore. Which is probably why the printed Stockade-athon application is still sitting in my purse, filled out but not dated. I know I want to run this race – I wanted to run it this year before I even decided to run a half marathon – but I am feeling a little burnt out on races in general. (I probably will run it, because I know I’ll regret it if I don’t.) Once winter hits, the weather in itself will force me to take a little bit of a break (say, running once a week instead of 3-4x/week), and I am sure once the spring race season gears up I’ll be back and ready to go.