In the hands of a more skilled writer with a better mental dictionary, what I’m about to write would read easier. However, you’re stuck with me, so bear with as I try to share my recent frustrations while training for the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon.
At this point in my training, the long runs are looooong. At this point in my training, the training seems looooong. Most often in this space I have conveyed my optimistic spirit and my good training experiences with you. During training weeks 4 – 9 things were going well and I was filled with positive thoughts and hopeful expectations. Maybe because it was still early and the shine hadn’t worn off of ALL THIS RUNNING yet. Maybe because my long runs hadn’t reached ridiculous proportions yet. Maybe because of hubris.
The thing is, I don’t think it’s any of the above. I think this is part of the rite of passage. We all know the old adage, if it was so easy anyone could do it. At least I’m not alone: I’ve been talking to a few other Rooks on Twitter and they are having the same experience, which makes me think it really is just the guts of the journey right now, for all of us doing this for the first time. Either way, #whendoesmay27gethere?
Regardless of the reason, I am here before you a humbled man. These last two weeks have sucked the fun not only out of training, but to some extent out of my daily life as well. I dread my runs. They are getting harder to complete and longer, much longer (have I mentioned how long they are yet??). I suspect part of this is “Welcome to the Real Running World, Rook” that the Running Gods have in mind for us poor, uninitiated souls. The thing is, there seems to be no light at the end of the training tunnel. Nineteen and 20 mile runs remain on the to do list. Sometimes I feel not all that unlike Willie Mays Hayes trying to steal second. Good enough to get 95% of the way there, but not good enough to finish the job. In my daily life, I’m hungry, I’m tired. Too tired to read at night. Tired of planning my day and week around the training runs, spending time lining up training partners (training partners rock by the way, though I can’t imagine why they are scarce with my current attitude!). Tired of running.
All of this had me stuck in the doldrums. Liz Lemon is not a big fan of the “Webster’s defines” style of wedding speech, so she and the rest of the occupants of 30 Rock will have to forgive this indulgence, but no other word fits quite what I feel better than doldrums, “a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump.” Despite not being remotely inactive, my training feels stagnant and my mood is most definitely slumpy. In lieu of doldrums, if a word existed that meant the exact opposite of Runner’s High, I’d use that word. *oh, and by the way, how much more darn running do I have to do before the magical fairy sprinkles some runner’s high dust on me?!?*
Looking ahead to see how to solve this self-inflicted crisis, I entered the RunVermont Unplugged Half Marathon and was excited to face the challenge of it. Then, as it tends to happen to all of us from time to time, important moments in my real life intervened and my plans changed.
Now, instead of continuing my downward descent into self-pity, I will run my way out of this phase tout suite. I will not be running the Unplugged this weekend, but instead will be in Boston supporting a close friend who’s going through an unthinkable ordeal and will run my 13 weekend training miles down there instead of at the Unplugged.
I will do it for my friend who is unable to run for himself right now and I will do it with a smile and a sense of perspective, and, frankly, privilege. My friend is fighting a disease that unfortunately impacts far more families than it spares. Sometimes one’s definition of what really constitutes the doldrums can change in an instant. Mine did.