Why this might be my one and only marathon

So I’m technically mostly done marathon training at this point and this is pretty much the only time I can be honest and write this post. It is peak week after all and I’ve just done my 20 mile long run as this goes live. I’m at the point in training where I am milage committed. While all the running I’m doing is amazing for me mentally and really physically it’s also getting to be too much. I felt exactly this way while training for and actually running my first half 5 years ago and I’ve done one every year since. So I’m prepared that this might be a lie and you should be too. There is a non-zero chance I will be doing this again next year and looking for more races right after I finish, who knows for sure! But… another side of me is like nope, this is a one time only thing and here’s why. But if you’re feeling this way too that’s totally fine and there can be lots of good reasons to do something and then not do it again! I did write about just this sort of thing years ago and I wasn’t wrong. So over the last two months of training I’ve been writing this post.

Conditions have to be too ideal:

To get this done this year too many things had to fall into place. After that a few more things just happened to fall into place. Working for myself most of the time this year meant that I had a lot more control over my own time than I usually do. I also had enough work to take a financial hit later in the busiest time of the year. Truthfully $2500 in unexpected car repairs sort of wiped this out. That was in addition to about that much again I actually knew was coming… But my part time employee wanted to go full time which was such a blessing on so many levels. When she worked part time it was mostly on the weekends so I had to work weekends too which made running a little hard early in training. But I could always get her started and run from work. When she came on full time I took weekends off to make sure she had enough to do which made long runs so much easier to fit in. 

If this wasn’t the case the whole summer would have been a lot more stressful because I would have been behind on work. Also my helper was perfect for her job and was super able to work independently which is to say she worked out perfectly. She was the perfect mix of independent and not over confident. Which means I could set her up or send her somewhere and she would actually show up and then report her hours and materials when she was done. On the other hand if she was unsure or needed clarification she’s always stop and ask. Having her specifically and full time this summer made the whole marathon training thing SO much easier than it would have been otherwise!

It’s too long: If I were to sum up why I might not due this again it’s just that the whole process is just too long! Training started on May 26th and the race is about October 10th. That’s 4.5 months of training. I’ve run more often and similar weekly milages in half training in the past but the ‘crazy’ portion is about a month or so. This time it’s at least 11 weeks and I do like heavy training on some level this has crossed the line into just too long. For reference I’ll basically be running a half marathon (or a lot more) for 9 weeks in a row.

It’s too much: Probably the best thing about the plan I choose is the fact that every other week my long runs are shorter (19 km) but overall it’s just been too much for too long. Here are the reasons I say that:

I have to be too inflexible: I’m not ‘Miss go with the flow’ under the best of times. I like my routines and my way of doing things. But while not marathon training I can deviate from the plan for most things. While training was heavy we were going to have some overnight guests who decided to make it a day trip instead. I was thrilled at that choice given that I had a long run the next day and hadn’t slept well the day before. Being as relieved as I was kind of made me feel $hitty. I had to skip a family wedding in part due to running and lots of “I can’t-s” and “no thank you-s” along the way.

It’s messing with my body:

Too lean: I was worried about this when I started and have strategies to deal with this when it’s happened in the past. I’ve actually gained about 2 pounds in training overall or at least stayed the same. But I am hella lean right now! Honey has noticed and when I’m going through my running pictures it’s getting harder to find one where I don’t look like a bit of a skeleton. I also can just feel that pretty much everywhere there is literally no fat under my skin. Save for my stomach and the inside of my thighs there is nothing left between the muscles and my skin. I’m not really mad about how I look though it is a bit stringy but I can feel it and that’s unpleasant. I can feel all my bones and now I have to be careful about what I sit on and my cold tolerance is shot. Swimming in 74F water means half an hour under the blanket and a sweater in 90 degree heat. Forget about losing the sweater when the air conditioning is on in the house either. I’m talking an extreme level here and that’s not right.

Messed up period: Without getting into the nitty gritty I’ve missed one period and when it did come lets leave it at weird shit happened. Weird concerning shit and leave it at that. Since then I’ve had one on time but is she ever light and easy to deal with which is a big sign its probably an an-ovulary one. Other than that they’ve been very delayed. If after training I’m still having issues I will head to the doctor. That’s a real sign that my hormone levels are really low and that could be setting me up for the female athlete triad and I still have almost 2 months to go. That means my bones could be suffering and running while that’s potentially happening sets me up for a stress fracture. I still have literally many hundreds of miles to go. When I do a half I might have one weird one but then it’s back to normal right after really quick!

Sore joints (kinda): I’ve been lucky (knocks wood) especially given where I started (coming off an acute injury) that it’s gone that well. For the month of September so far, and at least 3 weeks in August, my joints have been FEELING it. It is mostly my knees but my hips, feet and toes have been sore too. My left foot has some mid foot pain from early on, mostly when waking up. Both of my hips have been sore during and after runs here and there but it’s mostly my knees. In the last four weeks I’ve had both acting up here and there. In the last two weeks or so I’ve been icing them most nights for relief and some prevention. Ps this is helping tremendously. Nothing is hurting A LOT but a lot is hurting if that makes sense. Put another way it’s probably just that the miles are taking a toll because nothing is hurting consistently or consistently getting worse. 

Financial hit: While I didn’t track it training has cost me a significant amount of dough. I spent about 200 on this mostly in race fees and another 300 on gear using a leftover sport check gift card from the before times. I haven’t exactly turned down work or missed any but I haven’t chased jobs the way I usually would. That cost is probably a little north of $2500 dollars. But if you consider what I made last year and how much of that was done in evenings and weekends it could be as much as $6000. But keep in mind last summer I didn’t run at all and actively tried to hustle as hard as I could to grow the business. That $3000 dollars or so might seem like a big number or a small number to you. It could be real in the sense that with no running at all that profit could have been realized or a paper loss because could I really have worked harder than I did? Also would all that ‘extra’ work really have materialized?

I don’t publish this to complain or flex in some super dedicated way. Rather I want to acknowledge that not everything in training is all smiles for miles. But I want to dangle the idea out there that you don’t have to do something more than once if it’s not for you. However you never know I might be looking to better my time next year or this might be a once every decade sort of thing. Who knows! Have you ever hit your endurance limit? How did you know when it happened? Leave it in the comments below!      

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