Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bringing It Each and Every Time

It's the easiest thing to do to sign up for a marathon. Just click a few buttons, and Bamn! you're signed up. Just sit back, relax, and imagine yourself with that finish line feeling at the end of the race.

But just signing up doesn't log one mile for you

You can't just casually want to run a marathon, you can't half-ass it. Your internal fire needs to be lit, the flame needs to be sparked, and you need to grab a red hot poker and jam it in your own minds-eye of the tiger and start to feel ferocious.  There's an incredible amount of work that needs to be accomplished, and you can only get there if you are ready to dig deep into your heart and fight the day to day little battles before you are even ready for the 'Boss Stage'. 

Every marathon I've signed up for, there's the the initial excitement.  And then I realize,  Even though I've done a bunch of these, I still have to put in the work for each of them as if it's my first. Finishing a dozen plus marathons doesn't run miles for me, it doesn't start me at mile 6, doesn't guarantee I will make it through training, doesn't guarantee me a finish, it certainly doesn't guarantee me a time.  

Even if you aren't running for time, you need to stay humble and respect the distance or you will get humbled and have your ass chewed up and handed back to you on race day.   Each time you get in the training ring you have to bring it. 

Well, at least this holds true for me, but I know there are runners who's mileage can have them do 26.2 miles with just 24 hours notice, but for me, it's a digging in deep each and every time.

I'm trying to dig dig dig right about now, because it's time to start. 18 weeks until the taper for Bayshore Marathon, and my longest long run is at 14 miles.  I plan to slowly bump up these long runs and do a couple of 16 milers, a couple of 18 milers, and then probably three 20 milers.

Besides this long run schedule, I don't really have a more elaborate training plan. I probably should, but I usually trust my internal marathon-training clock to go off and tell me when the time comes to do some speed work, some tempo runs, some hills, or some marathon pace runs. Sure, it's a bit random, but the actual concrete plan is not the hard part. The hard part is pushing through the pain, but not so much that I stumble off the delicate tight rope and fall into a pit of injuries.  Training is all about getting stronger while playing chicken with some juiced up injury demons. 

You don't do this marathon training by coasting, and there are a few things I do to help me stay motivated to reach deep in training.  One thing I do is write a blog post like this to emphasize the message.

Another way I motivate my training is to get pissed at something. Odd, I know, but it's true.  I had two raging Sandy Hook tragedy runs, and the anger took 15 seconds off each mile for a while.

Another way is to find a cause to run for, something bigger than myself. I've done that a couple times with a cancer run and a Covenant house run. 

Another one is to throw random, mid-stream training fitness tests at myself during training.  I try to throw running challenges in front of me, little roadblocks I have to get over before I hit the big boss challenge. Bet you can't do 8 yasso 800's at this point in training, bet you can't run 4 ten milers this week and hit 40 miles, or, I bet you can't do a 14 miler marathon pace run.

Well, that last one is what I'm gonna try, and is my random self-challenge benchmark of the week.

And while I am doing such a test-run to challenge and test my training, I usually bring out the nasty trash talker in myself. I purposefully let my negative self-talk run wild in order to instigate my running self, saying things like: "You ain't got it no more, you're done, you're slow, you're weak, you can't do this, you're a jogger not a runner, you suck, you suck, and 'You Suck!'"

All of this hoping for my higher self to respond. It's just a way to jam a hot stick with burning marshmallow smores at the tip up my arse into my soul, trying to waken up and antagonize the sleeping running bear within.

No matter the result, either way I win, because if I respond to the challenge, then awesome, if I don't, I know it will just challenge me to train harder.

Of course, I need to pick a realistic pace, and am not sure what my target marathon pace is, but I'll stick with a sub 8 minute mile so I can break what (used to be) the Boston Qualifier pace for my age group.

So, someday soon,  I'm hoping to report on a 14 miler at 1 hour and 52 minutes or under. 

Until then, BAMN! I"m about to sign up for another race.

Yep, today's the day The New York Road Runners will send the 2012 canceled crew an email allowing for a refund or a chance to register for the New York City Marathon.

Signing up is the fun and easy part. Someday soon I will realize I  actually have to train and bring it for this one too.

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