This fall will be the first time in 4 years that I will not be running a marathon. It was a decision I went back and forth on for weeks, but ultimately decided a break is what my body needs. I was 6 weeks into this training segment and my body was running on E every single run. Fatigue is normal during training and it’s the runs where your legs feel fresh and strong that give you the extra boost you need to keep on going. I, however, never experienced that over 6 weeks. I finished all of my runs, continued spending time in the gym, but felt exhausted every single day. Being at altitude, I was being very conscious of my water intake and diligent with my vitamins/supplements, yet the pieces weren’t falling together. So for weeks I went back and forth with my ego, but finally decided that 26.2 is not best for me in October. What’s next, you may ask?
I am going to use this fall to focus on shorter distances and getting faster. Right now I am simply just running distances that feel good to my body in hopes of finding power in my legs again. I have turned to daily 5 or 6 mile runs, so I can keep my weekly mileage in the 30s. What I have realized over the past 4 years since I started running marathons is that I’ve never paid much attention to running my best at shorter distances like 5ks and 10ks. I think I need to do some reconnecting with the track and sprints. I also think with fresh legs I can scrap off another couple minutes from my half-marathon PR. While this is not exactly what I imagined my fall training looking like, I am optimistic about it and it should be a nice change of routine.
Like I said, there was a lot of wavering around this decision, but I really had to take a step back and re-evaluate my running goals. Part of the entire reason I do this is to stay healthy and when it started becoming something that negatively affected the way I was feeling, I knew it was time to scale back. I’m not sure what is making this year different than the previous years, but maybe 2 weeks of recovery wasn’t enough after 2 marathons within 6 months. Maybe it was a summer of pushing myself at altitude day in and day out. Who knows. I am trying to enjoy the unstructured schedule, but it’s hard as fall marathons are right around the corner. Acceptance is something I am working towards and this decision is challenging me to re-connect with the reasons why I run when there isn’t a race in sight. I have good workouts and bad ones. Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated. These are all things that I am working through, but plans change and that’s okay. Racing doesn’t define my running journey; it’s so much more than that. My success this fall will not be determined by a number or PR; it will be measured by the days I lace up my shoes and hit the pavement without a race on the horizon. It will be a different type of challenge and I am committing myself 100% to it -to learning, to patience, and to dedication. I’m opening a new chapter in my running book and ready to see where it will take me.