Marathon Training in the Real World

I will never be an elite runner.  Much like my realization that it is entirely too late for me to be a child prodigy, I will never have the luxury to run for my job.  I am decent.  I have some trophies to my name and qualified for Boston, but I run for fun and in my spare time.  What this means to me is that I also spend 40 hours a week (at least) working, maintaining my household, supporting my amazing mother as she battles cancer, and trying to have some semblence of a social life. Nothing in the aforementioned list shows up on the pretty, little training schedule we have all printed out to guide us as we train for a marathon. Neither do personal trainers, regular massages or any kind of endorsement deals!  Total bummer by the way, but I am slowly coming to terms with that too along with the child prodigy thing. 😉

But back to the what I have fondly dubbed ‘the pretty little training schedule”….right now mine is neither too pretty nor too little.  Granted, I only have 9 weeks and 2 days (not that I am counting) until Boston; however, nowhere on my ‘pretty’ schedule does it mention that I will be training during the worst winter the East Coast has seen in 2 decades!!  Since the New Year, I have run on ice, in sub zero wind chills, through sleet, and in rain, ranging from drizzle to downpour but always at a lovely temperature that hovers right about 37 degrees.  Did I mention that I live in Atlanta, GA? Are you kidding me??  Why isn’t that on my training schedule?  I have milage and pace and speed work and cross training and rest days built into said schedule, but where is horrendous weather spelled out??

Or late nights at work?  You know the ones that have you up working on presentations until 1:30 AM.  I know I have meetings that start at 7 AM some days and yet my training schedule dicates mileage that has to be squeezed in at 4 AM or at lunch or after a 10 hour day when you are dog tired.  That 10 hour work day is totatlly NOT on the schedule!   The injuries never show up on that training schedule either…the stress fractures or the unexpected gall stones that require surgery or the shin splint that you manage by slowing down your pace and icing the heck out of that shin (yes, in those sub zero/freezing rain/snow/and ice temperatures).  Training schedule…you have let me down!!!

Well, I may be acting a bit dramatic here, but you get my point.  Or I hope you get my point, which is that every single one of us that crosses the finish line of any race distance, deserves a really big pat on the back and a HUGE congratulations.   We are all recreational runners who manage to fit our training schedule around our real lives.  Granted, I go to bed before 10 PM evrey night which is brutal on the social life, but training for Boston trumps a late night social life right now.  And there is not doubt in my mind that running has given me far more than I give up to commit to my training schedule.

When I moved in Atlanta 8 months ago, running kept me sane and introduced me to my entire friend group.  All my best friends in Birmingham have run with me at some point.  I was even lucky enough to bring a running buddy from Birmingham with me to Atlanta (it was just coincident that she moved at the same time)!   I have a physical every year where I am declared ‘the picture of health’ because of running.  My mom is adamently pushing through chemo to come and see me run Boston.  I have a fantastic relationship with my father because he has coached me for years….and it is all because of running.  I know this sounds very corny, but it is the very honest truth.   

Sanjay Singh, who I thank for introducing me to Suman, told me when I first started working for him that “you will make time for the things that you want to make time for in your life.”‘  When the alarm goes off every day at 5 AM, I remember those words.  When my foot is soaked through and numb after running 15 miles in the freezing rain and I have 2 more miles left to run, I remember those words.  This weekend when I run Mercedes with my friend Kate as her pacer AND in a potential cold rain in Birmingham, I will remember those words.  Everyone one of us weekend warriors who prints out a ‘pretty, little’ training schedule and signs up to run a 5K/10K/half marathon/marathon/ultramarathon makes the time to train because we WANT to make the time to train and run races.  I can tell myself that for the next 9 weeks until Boston and I can believe those words.  I hope that when your alarm goes off next to get you up for an early morning, cold, wet run,  you remind yourself that you run for you.  Pat yourself on the back.  Buy the ventilatte verses the tall latte for yourself as a treat.  Thank a higher power that you are alive and well enough to be out there pounding the pavement in the cold, dark, windy rain.  Most importantly, continue to make running important to you and keep printing out those pretty, little training schedules.  You are a elite runner in my book simply because you commit to the training schedule and run the race.  We are all Kenyans!

 Run happy, my friends.


3 thoughts on “Marathon Training in the Real World

  1. Cara, that is an inspirational read, you are so right when you say “you will make time for the things that you want to make time for in your life.” This is what keeps me going, I find that enrolling for a run, keeps you with a goal and makes the pain of training worthwhile.

    I am so going to steal your “we are all Kenyans” line when I next blog about running. You know what, if the cradle of mankind was in Lake Turkana, northern Kenya, we are all Kenyans 🙂

  2. Hello Cara – it is true inspirational. You always write from your heart.

    I was not as good training last month. I plan to hit the road soon to train for my last marathon – the ING Atlanat 2010!!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *