On Connecting the Head and the Heart

I realize it’s not only been a while since I’ve posted here, but even longer since I’ve talked about running or training.  I’ve been doing both.  And had some successes, some set backs and some {what I would consider} failures.  I may or may not get to the details of those, but for now, here’s the decision weighing heavily on my mind.

To Run Chicago or Not?!?

After my less than stellar race in January at the Houston Marathon, I took some time off, did “all the little things” and had a great spring.  So good, I {quietly} signed up for a late spring/early summer marathon.  Long story short, that race was cancelled due to thunderstorms on race morning, and I allowed my emotions to drive me to sign up for a difference race a few weeks later.  A race I had purposely not signed up for originally because it was too late and therefore didn’t allow enough recovery before Chicago.  I didn’t run that race well.  At all.  In fact, I haven’t run such a bad marathon since 2011.  I came back from that event broken, defeated and with only 2-3 weeks to “recovery” before jumping back into another training cycle.

I’ve had some ups, but mostly downs so far in training.  I took an entire week off before #birdcamp because I wanted to ENJOY every run there not be in pain the whole time.  I sat down with the legendary Lauren and downloaded my brain to get her sage advice. She confirmed (in much more eloquent words) what my head basically already knew- Chicago shouldn’t/wouldn’t be a BIG goal race.  There wasn’t enough time.  She gave me a few options, the primary 2 being: run it with a smaller goal (i.e. fast last 10K) or don’t run.  I came home and decided I’d continue training *for now* and play each week by ear.   I’m super simplifying my conversation with her and leaving out big pieces, but this is the relevant part to this post.

Last week I technically ran my entire schedule, including a 20 miler.  If you consider sitting at a water stop for ~15 minutes, debating getting in a friend’s car, then deciding to shuffle back to the start on foot, running my 20 miler.  Yes it’s hot and that’s a factor, but it’s not the only thing going on.  I’ve dropped all tempos from my schedule leaving only a weekly track workout for speed.  See, my head (and body) knows the answer is to back out of Chicago.  My body is tired.  Bone weary tired (and maybe a little broken).

BUT my heart still wants to be out on the course with so many friends.  And Chicago has been a bucket list race for years for me.  In direct opposition to this is my heart’s desire to have some BIG PR’s at other distances this winter/spring.  Something I don’t think will happen if I continue down the Chicago path.

So this is basically a word vomit where I plead with you to weigh in friends.  Give me your best advice.  Help me figure out where the marriage of my head and my heart lays.

(P.S. I’m coming to Chicago regardless so cowbelling will occur if I don’t run!!)

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About fashionablemiles

30-something runner, triathlete and wannabe fashionista
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7 Responses to On Connecting the Head and the Heart

  1. Ahh I have been there! It sounds like the talk with Lauren was needed and went well.

    Personally, I would not run a full marathon for “fun” or any other purpose, both because they are tough and because of the amount of recovery time after. I think if your heart isn’t in it , I wouldn’t run it . But that’s me!!

  2. cnbenton says:

    Ahhh it’s tough to say what to do because I’ve run Chicago twice and I love that city. That marathon has seen the best and worst of me: in 2010 it was 85 degrees and I swore off 26.2 for a couple of years as a result. In 2012 it was my return to the marathon and I PRed by 22 minutes (30 degrees was more like it!!!). It’s a great course and the crowd support is AWESOME. I was set on returning this year until I faced up to the fact that I was not in PR shape and dedicating myself to the training without getting the desired result wasn’t going to be worth it. Like the previous commenter, I’m not into running marathons “for fun.” The training takes over your life, so I always hope to get results from it! Having said that, once I decided not to run Chicago this year, FOMO set in since seemingly EVERYONE else is registered, so I booked a flight out to spectate. It would be great to see you on the course!

    • I agree, I don’t think I can truly run 26.2 “just for fun”- it’s simply too much of an undertaking. And I’m having the same FOMO challenges. If everyone goes out and has this amazing day with amazing weather I’m going to feel like I missed my opportunity. Even though a big part of me knows I won’t be in PR shape by then so conditions won’t matter. It’s such a hard decision- I think harder when it’s a big race like this with so many people running/in town. See you there regardless!!!

  3. Jenny says:

    Ahhh the emotional and physical turmoil of 26.2! I think when the head and the heart ‘click’, magic happens. But I think that just because they’re not on the same page right now, does not mean that they won’t start working together in the coming weeks. It sounds like you’re being really smart and listening to your body (i.e. no tempos). If I were you, I think I would pick a goal that has nothing to do with the time on the clock and focus on that 100%. (don’t even let those time goals linger in the back of your mind) Is there someone running Chicago that you would want to pace? Chicago’s course has such amazing energy – you might just find that your head and heart start working together on race day — and that would be magical. 🙂 (Either way, I’ll be there to spectate YOUR race or to spectate WITH you!)

    • I keep thinking I’ll find the magic if I just keep training but so far no dice. Maybe if we’d just get one semi-nicer day it would help it not feel so hard on every run. While I like the theory of throwing time goals out the window I’m not sure I can truly do it. I have had a friend ask me to run with her but I’m afraid that would still be a “time goal”- hers not mine, but still. AHHH, I’m WAY overthinking this but it’s so hard when it’s sure to be a fantastic race with tons of great people running and spectating. Can’t wait to see you- regardless of my running decision. 🙂

  4. elizabeth says:

    Ahh. this is me right now. Training for half marathons all winter and spring was FUN. Marathon training is not. People see my times on my weekly recaps and think “kick ass” but for the most part I’m constantly checking my pace and each mile to see how much longer until it’s over. I was a BQ. I want to run Boston one day (and Chicago & Marine Corp) but I truly don’t love marathon training. Maybe it is just the heat? Maybe my “real” life is just too busy? Jess has pulled back a lot of my speed work to just a tempo a week and I’m not sure what I will have in me in November. All I can say, go with your gut. If it tells you to run it, go for it. BUT, if you run it and it doesn’t go your way on race day, you HAVE to allow your body time to heal and take some time off (or step back to shorter distances). There will always be a marathon in your future. It’s just figuring out the timing. xoxo

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