Missing in Action: My Mojo

It’s been over four years now since I started running seriously, in which time I’ve logged hundreds of hours and thousands of miles.  One of the major attractions for me is that every run is an opportunity to surprise yourself, which seems to happen far too rarely in adulthood.  After half a dozen half marathons, I felt ready to explore new territory with a marathon.  I knew that doubling the distance would pose plenty of new challenges beyond simple endurance.  I was not expecting it to be different territory altogether.  I love the half marathon distance, and I’m sure I’ll go back to it again and again, but I have to say that marathon training has felt like a deeper level of running somehow.  There is an intensity to it that is, of course, more physically taxing, but it also demands much more mental focus and stamina than I ever imagined.  There’s the obvious stuff, like keeping oneself entertained and positive through a 20-miler, but more than that, there’s the discipline required to stay engaged in four months of training.  It’s been a constant learning experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

That said, I feel like I hit the mental wall this week.  Before my trip last week I was banging out 8-mile tempo runs like they were nothing.  This week I’ve been battling through overwhelming disinterest to get through even my easy runs.  I’m drowning in boredom and fatigue and fighting a persistent cough and a sore throat that seems to come and go with a slight breeze.  I remember reading about “August Injuries” in Hal Higdon’s marathon training book, which was his catch-all term for the injuries, fatigue, and overtraining that always surfaced in his runners 10 weeks or so before the Chicago Marathon.  My IT band hit right on schedule at the beginning of September, and a bit of overtraining seems to be catching up with me now.  I’m surprised that it’s happened after my easy week back East, though in truth, that probably doesn’t really qualify as a recovery week.  I still ran 39 miles, a lot of them hilly, and finished with my fastest 20-miler yet.  That, combined with the lack of sleep that week, probably did not boost my reserves.  I know I’m on the verge of being overtrained.  I’ve been trying to think of ways to shake up my routine without adding stress all week.  At the moment I’m flirting with the idea of driving up to Santa Barbara for my long run for a change of terrain and scenery.  It’s a long drive for a run, but the lure of a dirt path, slightly cooler temperatures, and a fish burrito after may outweigh it.    Especially the burrito.


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