On the Run: Week 5

“Running a marathon is hard.” I can’t tell you how many times, since I started this project, that I’ve heard that phrase.

on the run
  • Days Until Anthem Richmond Marathon: 49
  • Miles Run: 195.51
  • Eyes on the Prize: 2

“Running a marathon is hard.”

I can’t tell you how many times, since I started this project, that I’ve heard that phrase.

Oh sure, plenty of people are supportive–some are even excited. Quite a few are ambivalent, which is cool, too.

But I’m surprised by how many people I’ve run into who seem to think I’ve no idea what I’m getting myself into. I guess because I write so often about the emotional journey I’m on and rarely touch on the physical one that’s also involved.

But trust me when I say I know that running a marathon is no small feat and finishing one is an even bigger accomplishment.

I’m not working with a marathon training team. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them and wouldn’t hesitate to go that route, if I thought it were right for me. But my work schedule is such that I can’t commit to meeting up with a group, weekly, without worrying myself and my boss half to death. I’m frequently scheduled one or both weekend days, and that schedule changes every week. This is a good thing if you like variety, a bad thing if you like having a life, or, you know, scheduling doctor’s appointments.

I’m also not a social runner. I’ve done runs with others, but having company distracts me. When the going gets tough and my legs begin to feel like they’re made of freshly-poured concrete, I need to focus. I’ve gotta take time to recognize that I’m headed in that direction, gel up, take a sip of my patented sports drink and water blend, or just give myself a little, old fashioned pep talk. When I’m chatting, I’m less likely to see the signs until it’s too late and the concrete in my legs has fully hardened. Once that happens, forget about it.

No, instead, I’ve cobbled together my own training plan, based on three different plans, all of which featured things I loved and things I wasn’t crazy about, that I found online.

For those of you who aren’t runners or who are running for fun, rather than training for something specific, a typical training plan is split into weekly segments, each consisting of a few short runs, a few rest days, and one long run. Some plans convert rest days into cross-training days, so you stay active but are using different muscles than you would to run. My own training doesn’t specifically include cross-training, but if walking my dog or working inside a grocery store every day counts, I’m golden.

And I’m right on schedule. As of tomorrow, we are seven weeks out from the Richmond Marathon. That means I did a 16-mile long run earlier in the week. Next week, I’m up to 17 miles, then 18, then 20, then tapering off to 9 and 8 for the last two weeks to save energy for the 26.2 mile haul to the finish line. I’m also doing lots of 8s in between, because that’s my favorite run, and some 10s and 5s thrown in for good measure.

As I’ve learned the hard way, no one can predict exactly how a race will go. I’m not guaranteed success, no matter how hard I train. However, I’m almost certainly guaranteed failure if I don’t train properly, and I know that. I’ve worked too hard to go down without a fight, so I’m training and resting and pep talking, vigorously, until November.

After all, running a marathon is hard.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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