Monday, October 31, 2005

Using failure to create success

A few weeks back I ran a marathon in Columbus, OH. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. 3 hours 27 minutes. I was shooting for Qualifying for the Boston Marathon: 3 hours 10 minutes. So... I failed. (can you actually fail so long as you actually finish a marathon? seriously?) Leading up to the marathon I had been using a newly developed training program that limits your runs to 3 times a week. A series of sprints one day, a mid distance (5-10M), and a long run (15-20M) and on the off days you are to cross train: cycling, Tae-Bo, swimming, etc. The training went well but I failed to do the cross training. It was just too tedious and cumbersome to do. It's easy to throw on shoes and run several miles. Traveling to the 'gym' working out for 90 minutes, showering and traveling back would take hours, however, running 4-6 miles takes less than 45 minutes. When it was time to run the marathon, I was concerned because I hadn't been able to train right because I had my wisdom teeth removed 2 weeks prior. My traing was thrown off and I wasn't able to run for a week when that happened. Once the marathon was underway I felt great up until mile 15 and then I just ran out of gas. I slowed my pace down by about a minute per mile. I attributed it mostly to the fact that I hadn't logged the miles that I normally run. By only running 3 days a week I had in turn short changed myself the necessary conditioning that runners need: miles. So, right in the midst of the toughest part of the marathon, Mile 18, I vowed to retrain and run another as soon as I could. That has lead me to the present. The last 3 Sundays I have run a total of 65 miles. 26, 19, and 20. I've been running 45, 50, and 55 miles these past 3 weeks and I'm running approx 6 miles a day w/ 1 day off for my body to rest. I'm also reading a book called "This Running Life" by Dr George Sheehan. (no relation to the infamous "Rushville Sheehans" that I know of) Thus far the book has described the makeup of distance runners and how they are sometimes different from other athletes. It listed some of their (what Dr Sheehan refers to as Cerebrotonia-ectomorphy) attributes: detached, tense, anxious, considerate, love of privacy, introvert, self-centered, reflective, reserved, cool, suspicious, precise, needs solitude when disturbed, watches things happen. As I read over this list I considered myself and other distance runners I know and whereas I hate to stereotype I have to admit these characteristics do relatively accurately describe some of the distance runners I know: Tom Simpson, Steve Gosnell. Strange for me to think of distance runners having to fit a personality type, but maybe it's the personality type that attracts those people to distance running? It's tough, I'll admit to pushing yourself to run 20 miles or so. It takes a certain degree of insanity and forgetfullness. You have to forget that you've already run 6 miles and you have 14 to go. You just run 1 mile at a time at a nice, steady, even pace and you don't just go out and run 20. It takes weeks, months, and years to build up to it. I think it's partially a mental thing. Knowing that I've already run 20 miles before, I know I can and that it won't kill me. I end up distracting myself while I'm running as well as decieving myself that I am not running as far as I am. I'll tell myself that I'm only running only 10 and then only 15 then 18 then all of a sudden I'm at 20. I listen to music part of the time but in the final 10 miles or so I ditch the music and focus on my pace. It's tough. It's really, really, really difficult. Your legs are aching and feel like falling off. It took me almost 2.5 hours to run 20 miles today. 2 and a half hours of running, non-stop. Have we pushed physical fitness into something of a self-torture? Maybe. I don't call it marathoning. I call it enduring and that get's me through...


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