What is this parasitic blob that has taken up residence in my head?
Ooooh, yeah. It’s doubt. Hello, old friend.
I’d been riding my runner’s high for about seven months, right up until week 1 of my new half-marathon training regimen. In March, I turned in a fantastic race in Washington, D.C., finishing the half in 1:55 after training to break 2:00. I wanted more.
Heck, if I could break 2:00 by five minutes, why couldn’t I break 1:55 by five minutes?
I’ll tell you why: To shave 10 minutes off a half-marathon is to shave 46 seconds off each mile. And lemme tell you, it’s hard. At least for these legs.
|Finish time||Pace per mile|
It took me two years to break 2:00, and that whole time I trained for right around 9:00 miles. These days, to get in under 1:50, I’m training for 8:30 miles—I know 8:30 gives me a 1:51 finish, not 1:50, but I’m expecting to surprise myself.
Well, here’s a surprise: 8:30, at least so far, has proved nearly impossible.
As of this morning, I’ve finished three tempo runs (3, 4, 5 miles) and two long runs (6, 8 miles, with 10 this weekend). Only in the shortest tempo run have I hit my target pace.
At any rate, it’s starting to go to my head. More than that. It’s starting to make me think twice about lacing up my shoes and hitting the road in the morning. It’s getting too difficult, man. Maybe today, just today, you can skip your workout and sleep in. That’s not right. Right?
The thing is, I KNOW I can do it! In the last year—nay, in the last eight months—I’ve PR’d the 15k and the half-marathon, both of them longer distances and faster paces than the long runs causing me so much grief lately.
Look, I’m not trying to win any races or set any course records here. I’m just trying to train to improve my times, do the best I can at it, get some exercise in the process, and have some fun. There is a fine line between determination and just plain dumbness, and I fear I’m getting close to crossing it.
Is the doubt that’s glomming onto my brain causing me to give up too easily? Or have I legitimately reached the limit of my abilities?
There’s one good way to find out: Keep pushing.