A Confession

When I started this journey to a full marathon I had a secret hope. I hoped that training for the full would follow the same pattern as my training for the half. By that I mean I headed into my first half marathon wanting to just try one. Training for the most part went well and I discovered I actually liked distances over 10k. Even better, I ran my first half marathon under the time I predicted and felt great at the end. So, as daunting as the marathon is, there has always been a little part of me that has thought I might find I like this crazy distance and perhaps do better than any goals I might set.

Reality has set in. The fact is I have discovered I don’t like running farther than 23 or 24 km. To be blunt, anything after that is just too long. Too long physically, too long mentally (it gives me too much time to wallow in self doubt), and too long to schedule into a busy week. Honestly, I am starting to think that marathons are just not for me.

Today I went out excited to try a 30k run. I really wanted to get this distance in. Mentally I needed to get this distance in. The first 16k were fine, though I noticed I was tightening up in my left hip and down through the IT band. I took a break, did some stretches, had some water and told myself I could do it. By 21k everything in my hip area was starting to hurt. I decided walk breaks would be a good idea and since I really wasn’t concerned about time, slowing down did not bother me. I decided my priority was simply to get to 30k so that my brain would know I could do it. Unfortunately by 25k I knew I was done. The pain just kept increasing, even as I walked a very slow and very uncomfortable (translate to painful) final 5k.

I can’t lie, it is the closest I have come to wanting to quit this whole thing. I already felt like I couldn’t be ready in 8 weeks, now with an injury I can feel any small amount of confidence I had dwindle away. I thought I would be so much further now in my distance running, but instead I feel like so little progress has been made.

I won’t quit, but I want to. I hate feeling like that. And now there is the added fear of what if I have to quit because of injury? I am doing all the right things, icing, resting (although as a teacher this is the week that things start to get busy), even booking a sports massage. If I have to I will go to physio as well to try to get back on track. But I have no idea if I will lose days or weeks. I am sure I will be able to do short runs, but at what point do I risk a long run? Too soon and nothing will heal, too long and I will have lost so many km of training.

One of the main things I thought about while out there today was that I can’t wait to get back to half marathon training and trying to finish under 2 hours. When you are training for one distance but longing for another, that kind of says something doesn’t it?

4 thoughts on “A Confession

  1. Jodi

    Injuries are so frustrating when you’re working towards a race goal!

    Something I’ve learned in physio is that despite being on our feet all the time, runners have weak muscles in certain areas (like the hips), that can cause a host of problems all the way down the leg. Strength stretches have now become part of my regular training schedule. (I highly recommend seeing a sports physiotherapist, by the way. I thought I was doing everything I could for my injury, but he had me ice differently and do exercises I didn’t know about. He really has made all the difference at this late-in-the-game critical point of training!)

    As for the more philosophical issue you’re grappling, at the end of the day running is supposed to make us happy. Yes, it’s challenging and our bodies and minds feel pain at points during the training, but despite that we’re supposed to look forward to the next run. If that sweet spot is the half-marathon for you, then embrace it and give it all you’ve got!

    In the short term, good luck with the injury ~ I hope you’re back on track and feeling strong very soon.

    1. kristi Post author

      Thanks Jodi! I think strengthening my hips and glutes will be an important next step for me. Each day things are feeling better so I hope to be doing some running this week, even if just very short runs. Mentally, I am working on reminding myself that completing the marathon is an accomplishment regardless of time. Once I achieve this goal of completing 42.2, I can go back to thinking about time as I try for faster times in the half marathon, which without a doubt is my favourite distance.
      I hope you continue to heal as well and it sounds like you are doing everything right to be ready for Oct 20th!

  2. Karla @ Run, Karla, Run!

    Just catching up on all my reading I missed while I was on vacation. Sounds like you’ve been suffering through the agony and ecstasy of marathon training. It’s not an easy journey. And if, at the end of this whole experience, you decide you’re a half-marathoner so be it! The marathon is not the be all-end all of running. You’ve got to find the runs that make you happy!

    1. kristi Post author

      Yep, that post was definitely written in a down moment. Not going to swear I will never do another marathon, I like to think I will try it again, but I am really looking forward to improving my half marathon times.


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