I’ve heard a lot about having grace for yourself during the marathon training process. Gwen was the first one to talk about it. She said that a training plan is malleable, like bread dough. It’s a suggestion of what should happen but isn’t set in stone. If you’re sick, injured, or just plain exhausted, she says to postpone or move a scheduled run. If you can’t get your heart rate high enough because you’re tired, take a few days off. Rest. The miles will happen, the training will get done. Have grace for yourself.
I heard more about this the other day when I ran with DailyMile friends David and Leo. Leo talked about how he went to RunnersWorld.com and looked at training plans to get a feel for the cadence of the workouts. He graphed the workouts and saw the peaks and valleys of mileage. Long, short, short, medium, short, tempo, short, long, etc. Then he threw out the training plan and ran by feel. If he did a long run one day, he rested and did shorter runs the next few times. He mixed up the running with cycling, aqua-jogging and playing on his unicycle, giving his joints a rest, strengthening muscles and adding flavor to his life. The result? A 2:50 marathon with training done entirely by listening to his body.
I’ve been of the mentality that whatever the training plan says to do, I have to do. Period. I only deviate from it when I’m broken, and then I feel guilty for not being strong enough to do every single run. I haven’t run the trails that make me feel like flying, because they don’t fit into the training plan. I’ve had that “head down, eye on the prize” attitude for three months. Maybe it’s time to tweak that outlook.
My last Long Run is just around the corner. Twenty-two miles are on the books, though I just looked at the weather forecast and it looks like it might be snowing. Which means there might be ice on the road. I’m going to have to play this next run by ear. I might have to push it to Monday so that the conditions are safer. I might have to get off the roads and stay solely on trail. I might have to wear my YakTrax if the snow is too deep. I might not make 22 miles on Sunday.
This is grace. Going with the flow of life. Allowing for tweaks and changes when things come up. Altering the training plan because it feels right.
A little piece of excitement stirred when I realized that I’m open to changing up the training plan. Too much of the same thing makes for a bored runner who is reluctant to get outside. I changed it up this week by meeting new friends for a run on the first foggy, cold day of the season. That run put a bounce in my step and made me remember how FUN it is to run.
Sometimes I feel like I have to pound out every last mile because deep-down, I’m not sure that I can run that far. Or fast. There are so many people telling me that I CAN do this marathon training, that I CAN run 26.2 miles at a good pace, and I’m the only one that has doubts. Will I let people down if I don’t have a stellar race? I don’t know because I don’t want to think about it. I’m scared my legs will give out on me. I don’t want to create a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure because I voiced my concern, but there it is. I hope my body is up for this.
Bill asked me last night if I want to run this race and when I immediately said “YES!” he replied, “There you go. You’ll do fine. You want this and you’ll make it to the end.” I never thought about it that way. Maybe he’s right. Maybe it’s a good thing to have doubts and concerns because then I get to address each and every one of them BEFORE I ever toe the line on race day.
Concerns are really inner-demons coming out to play in the light. Instead of fighting them, I should sit at a round table and hear what they have to say. That is grace. Allowing for the possibility that things may change along the way, though we’re still heading in the right direction.