A blog by runners. For runners.

Annual Running Breakdown AKA Running is Hard

Today was my annual running breakdown. I pushed my Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday workouts back one day each meaning today and tomorrow make it 5 day straight without rest.
I woke up at 6am and fought the idea of running for 15 minutes before heading out. As soon as I started running I felt dreadful – dead legs and no enthusiasm at all. Usually this passes after a mile or so but today was different and a classic sign of over-training. I hit the lakefront (here in Chicago) at around 1.5 miles in and found some inspiration when I saw the sun hanging low, bright orange over the lake as it began it's hike across the sky.
The usual path was too familiar so I decided to try to distract myself and took a detour along Montrose beach past the bird sanctuary all the way to the end of the pier at Montrose Point. The scenery was just perfect as the low sun lit up the buildings along the lake front and the trees at the edge of the beach. As I turned around I saw what has to be the most perfect view of downtown Chicago as the sun worked it's magic reflecting off the tall skyscrapers. The route is here “Scenic 8 miler”.
I reached my 4 mile mark according to my Garmin so turned around and headed back home. Instantly my mood dipped again and as soon as I hit the familiar part of my route I switched back to grumbling and complaining to myself about how hard this all is and how little fun I was having.
Running the 1.5 miles along Foster Avenue back to the apartment was tough. The traffic, the traffic lights, the pedestrians, everyone was a target for my mental grumbling. It was only in the last half mile that it dawned on me – I've run around 450 miles since June so it's no wonder I'm tired!
I got back and told my wife about my little breakdown and she reminded me it was this time last year at the same stage in my training that I hit the same breakdown. The spring vanishes from my step as I get one week out from the peak week of training and the visions of running through the fall and winter to hit another marathon or two disappear in negative thoughts.
I looked at my logs for the 14 weeks of marathon training and got the confirmation about what I've achieved so far. I've logged 439.79 miles in 14 weeks. At a 9:14 average that's 67.6 hours of running and, for my weight, around 68,000 calories. For some perspective that translates to around 19 pounds! I've climbed over 24,000 feet based on elevation change and lost 14 pounds!
If you don't keep a diary of your training, I recommend you start. Be it in a spreadsheet, a log book, online or even sending yourself emails it's a crucial training tool to remind yourself of your accomplishments from time to time. Days like today come and go and you're not alone – it happens to every runner who follows a challenging training program. It felt awesome to tell the clerk at the Drivers License renewal facility I'm 14 pounds lighter than my last license and when she said “you're turning 35? You don't look that old” I nearly kissed her. Running is hard but it's rewarding and worth every minute.