Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Marathon training

It might be too early to start summarizing 2012, but regardless of the few weeks left, 2012 will always be the year I took my exercising to a whole other level. 2011 was significant because it was ther year it all started. I stared to exercise, I started to loose weight and I started a healthier way of life. But 2012 will be there year I ran my first 10 km race, I finished my first triathlon, I ran my first half-marathon and hopefully I will also be able to add finishing my first marathon to the list.

Because that's were I am right now. I'm training for a my first marathon. It felt like such a good idea when I signed up and it still felt like an ok idea after I finished my half-marathon, even though training for it was a very humbling experience. It's been about 5 weeks since then and I've been training for my marathon as best as I can. For every week that passes, my self-doubt grows. Will I really be able to do this? How will I be able to keep myself motivated? Can my legs carry me all the way? Why do I feel that I have to do it? 

From the get-go, I've had three goals for the marathon:

1 Finish the race...
2 ... without permanent injuries...
3 ... and hopefully without hating running forever.

These three goals might not seem all that ambitious, and when I decided on these goals I did it, in part, to bring the expectations down and the pressure off. But after last weekend's long run, these goals have not just turned realistic but truly challenging.

First of all, if you've ever wondered, let me tell you that training for a half-marathon and training for a full maraton is two different realities all together. I'm not quite sure where the magic line is drawn, but somewhere between mile 13 (21 km) and 20 (32 km) things start to hurt, wear down and weaken. This became blatantly obvious after my last run.

Last Sunday I ran 20 miles (32 km) which will be the longest run I will do before the marathon. I will not break it down mile by mile but the first 12 miles felt fine, the next 5 miles were bearable, the following two miles had me huffing, puffing and cussing out loud and the final mile almost made me cry. I'm pretty sure I would have cried if I had the energy to produce tears.

When I finally came home, I was in so much pain. My muscles were screaming at me and I had difficulties talking in full sentences. And all of a sudden, an uneasy feeling washed over me. Nausea! Time to run (hobble) to the porcelain thrown. I had run myself sick. I know it's not unheard of, but it sure was a first for me. Never had I exerted myself to were I had to throw-up.

A sobering thought followed this incident. What if I will not be able to finish the race? I only did 20 miles, I have another 6 miles to go. How do I feel about the fact that my body might actually have limitations? I haven't given up on my goals, but for the first time I'm faced with the possibility of not being able to reach them. I guess I will know within three weeks from now.

To end things on a positive note. The distance of a half-marathon is not even remotely intimidating anymore. I'm also happy to report that my cardiovascular system is handling all of this just fine. And regardless of the upcoming marathon, I've taken huge steps towards a fitter and stronger me.  

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