This week my 'training' has been my most minimal for a long time. A couple of exercise classes, a trip to parkrun (full blog to follow) and one other steady run (see image). That is it. I have finally been strong with myself due to the fact my training for the Berlin Marathon starts Monday - and quite frankly I am not where I want to be. I cannot wait to start marathon training again though, which for me will mark the end of a period of weeks which I have found a real challenge...
Since finishing the Manchester Marathon in April things have not felt easy. From December last year the Manchester Marathon had been my goal, my focus and the largest driver in life. I had trained hard for a sub 4 hour time, but the race itself didn't go as I wanted (see blog), and mentally and physically it has impacted me. If I am truly honest with myself, I know that my confidence in my running ability has dropped. I am fearful of the same thing happening again and I've felt a level of anxiety and doubt in subsequent races and runs I have completed. I have still been enjoying my running, but those thoughts are there. I'm not sure if my mental fear has also been inhibiting my post marathon recovery; perhaps making me over cautious, but my legs have additionally been struggling to feel anything like they were pre-marathon.
The last few weeks have also been marked with a severe case of post race comedown, heightened back the fact I have not wanted to keep reliving the Manchester Marathon and enjoy many/any of the memories. I have felt lost without training, which has frequently led to me feeling a general sense of a lack of purpose. I know I should have relished this freedom, especially with another marathon training cycle to come, but I haven't at all. The two weeks immediately after the Manchester Marathon I just about got by; focusing on getting in a shape to run the Lincoln 10k the week after the marathon, and then concentrating my energy on the London Marathon the week after that, which my friend was running. The day after the London Marathon I crashed though, struck by a sudden feeling of emptiness in my life, which has not really gone away since.
Over the last few weeks I have still been running and exercising, and it has brought me the same levels of happiness as ever - this enjoyment has probably led me to doing too much post marathon in fact! But outside of this, my life has felt a lot less purposeful, I have become less invested in myself, and have had days when I have felt quite down.
I've recognised this and tried to act on it where possible, but it has been a bit of a battle. The logical side of my brain knows that running is not everything, but I don't think it has necessarily been the act of running which I have been missing, as clearly I have still been doing this. Its the focus that training gives me, something to work towards, a reason to take care of myself, and a daily driver and source of motivation. At this moment in time, fitness, running, training, entering races, chasing goals etc. is a large part of my life, so it kind of makes sense that without this life could feel a bit empty. I have been between training cycles before, but my life was different then, I had other elements and distractions which took their chance to take over. This is why I think over the past few weeks these emotions and feelings have been especially heightened for me.
I wanted to be honest about the past few weeks, as I am sure others out there may struggle with similar feelings. I think its ok, as long as you acknowledge them; I know in future I need to try change things to prevent the same pattern happening again. One thing the last few weeks has meant is that I am now feeling ready for marathon training again - more than ready. I have a positive focus on the Berlin Marathon and I am determined to work hard in order to cross that finish line with my sub 4 hour time.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...