Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rebounding & Reflecting

This past week was a bit odd running-wise. I was definitely tired after Sunday's effort, and I have been having trouble getting up in the cold, pre-dawn hours to get my runs in. I'm trying to balance recovery with increasing my base, with no real desire or need to run hard just now, but gearing up for the 40-mile run and a possible (likely?) mid-winter marathon BQ attempt, I've been thinking about what running means to me. With nearly two years of consistent running in the bank, running has become as much a part of my identity as my profession, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation (it was a VERY good week for me in that regard), etc. Running is a nearly-tangible presence in my life. It takes up space - quite likely too much space - in my psyche. I review the running I've done and the running I'm about to do almost every night before I fall asleep. I look forward to planning my training and racing schedule more than virtually any other sort of planning. After two years of chasing an ill-defined goal (qualifying for Boston is a big part of it), the vigor and zeal for running generally remain undiminished.

But there are also those times where I examine the costs of running. Financial, yes, but emotional, psychological, physical. The correct question is not whether running has taken a toll on my work and home lives, but how much of a toll it has taken. In what has seemed like a blink of an eye, I now tend to believe that only runners "get" me. Living my real, day-to-day life among mostly non-runners, that presents a bit of a problem. It's as if I am not fluent in the native language of those around, or - perhaps better stated - that I have trouble communicating to them in their tongue. Further anecdotal evidence of this perception lies in the fact that my "virtual" running friends (from Runner's World online) have been incredibly supportive of the 40-mile run and related fundraising effort.

Recently, a guy I've known for along time but of whom I was never especially fond (he was fine really, but his sense of humor got on my nerves occasionally) became an avid runner. Since he first asked me a couple of months ago about getting a GPS watch, I've been all-too-eager to speak with him or exchange e-mails about this or that running minutiae. My running (and some cycling) co-workers are the ones to whose offices I find myself gravitating during the day, just to talk training or racing. I don't care if they are fast or slow, or somewhere in the middle like me, but if they care about running and about improving come race time, I have endless patience to discuss our mutual quests for betterment.

Unfortunately, I have to ration my running exuberance at home. Mrs. ESG is not a big fan of running, rather tolerant but not especially supportive. She's not the rah-rah type to begin with, and to her there's an obsessive, vain frivolity to all this she can't completely hide (not that she always tries).

So, I have arrived at no grand conclusions, other than that running is more than a phase, in that when I try to picture my life without running it's like imagining the loss of a dear, loyal friend. I suppose I could and would forge on, but life would never quite be the same.

Well, that's enough self-reflection, here's a training summary from the week:
  • Monday - elliptical, weights circuit, core & stretching
  • Tuesday - 5+ easy miles, 9:00 pace, average HR 149
  • Wednesday - 6 trail miles, average HR 153
  • Thursday - rest
  • Friday - 5+ miles at about 8:40 pace, average HR 154
  • Saturday - 7 slow trail miles; average HR 150
  • Sunday - 14+ hilly miles; around 9:00 pace, average HR 147

Total mileage for the week, about 37, which isn't bad coming off of a half-marathon PR.

I'm planning to run 25+ miles next weekend, either Saturday or Sunday as a tune-up for the 40-miler. That should end up making next week a 55-mile week or so. After that, I hope to keep my base at 45-50 miles per week, with an effort to get back into the habit of a mid-week medium-long run (10-14 miles). Though I seem to be pretty healthy right now (especially in light of the marathon and half-marathon being 3 weeks apart), I can feel the cumulative fatigue. Somehow I will have balance the need to recover with the desire to train and peak again relatively soon.

As for whether to run the Hyannis marathon on February 22nd, I've decided not to decide yet. I'll see how badly the 40-miler beats me up and how much running I can get in London, and I'll pull the trigger (or not) before Christmas.



Bert said...

Interesting, incisive post. I have long since given up trying to rationalize the role of running in my life. I am a runner before everything else. That is not always good but my wife is ok with it (she runs too) and it keeps me sane and helps to keep me healthy.

Good luck and have fun with planning and executing the BQ strategy.

screaminzab said...

Interesting stuff, ESG. There's definitely a cost and I can understand where you're coming from. I started running in 2004 and my wife (girlfriend at the time) is not a runner either. And she does think it's weird that I have made friends via RWOL. None of my pre-running good friends are serious runners, so I really get my fix from RWOL and two guys who have become friends - one former co-worker and another guy who is a friend of my brother's.

Running is a healthy activity. Do we get caught up in it at times? Probably. Could we be doing something worse? Absolutely. I have kind of learned to pick my spots and at times have run early, run late or sometimes even skipped a run for the betterment of the overall good. I don't thin my wife will ever understand, but on most days she gets it for the most part. If it ever starts taking a turn, I point out the health benefits and tell her she doesn't want a fat husband.

Billy said...

Hear ya loud and clear ESG - good post.

It's funny how much running has consumed my life in the two years I've been running. Especially in the past several weeks when I adopted the Pfitz training program for the first time. It seems like my social life has suffered the most (limiting going out or drinking because I'm always thinking about next morning's run), but it's been relatively a small price to pay. Thankfully, I have a girlfriend who's also a runner (an avid one at that - currently pursuing a BQ time) so we can share time running among other things.

At this point, next to family and friends, running's the most important thing in my life. I have no problems admitting that.

ps - time to update your half PR on the right

Jess said...

Thank you for this post. I know exactly how you feel, even down to the part about examining the amount of space running takes in your life. I can also relate to the comment above, about how running has put a dent in my social life.
But I love it. I am addicted. And it's not going anywhere. And it's good to know there are others who feel the same way.
Well put, Ron.