Downgrade

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I pretty much let this week go down the toilet. Now, a lot happened that was beyond my control (I was sick Monday, Tuesday, and yesterday), but I didn’t do a great job pulling things together during the week’s remaining four days. I ran on Thursday, and attempted a run yesterday but didn’t get all that far. I had planned on doing a long run today but let myself get carried away with all-or-nothing thinking, and decided it wasn’t worth the effort since I’d already blown it for the week. Oh well.

This is the point where people usually start to say, “It sounds like you should take a break from running.” There may be some truth to that. Maybe. I think the problem is less the running and more the way I approach it (and, one could argue, many other things in my life). I’m always far too invested with the accomplishment, and it seems that because I get so focused on the end product I lose the enjoyment of the process that gets me there. Whether I keep running or stop for a while, that’s not going to change, so as far as I’m concerned I might as well keep running.  While I keep running, though, I’m going to work on addressing this attitude–and by that I mean doing more than just saying, “Oh, yeah, that’s happening”, which is how I’ve been dealing with it up until now.

The first step in this endeavor is going to be dialing things back a little bit. I’m training for a marathon, and that’s not going to change until October 30th when I cross the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon. But for the past six weeks I’ve been following a plan that I know I could downgrade from. It’s the plan I wanted to follow, and not necessarily the plan I should have followed. So from this point forward, I’m going to follow Hal Higdon‘s Novice 2 plan (previously I’d been following Intermediate 1). The next six weeks of training will look like this:

Instead of running 5 days a week, I’ll get an additional day of rest and a designated day for cross-training. Hopefully this will help me feel a little more energized, since I’ve been walking around lately feeling a little bit like a zombie.

The hardest part of taking this step down is that it hurts my pride. It’s silly, I know, but every year I set my sights on a training plan that is just slightly out of my reach, and every year I get frustrated by the fact that it ends up being a bit too much. In my weaker moments, I just want to throw my hands up, acknowledge that I’ll never improve, and give up. The rest of the time, though, I am much more in touch with why I’m running–it’s not so I can win, or even have bragging rights. I run because I enjoy it, and that’s going to be the case regardless of whether I’m running 15 miles a week or 50. And if I want to continue running, and continue enjoying it, then I’m going to have to recognize when it’s time to step back a bit. This is one of those times, and I’d rather call myself a novice than risk pushing myself too hard and resenting running as a result. So a downgrade it is.

Have you ever been in a situation like this, where you had to scale back a little bit? How did you deal with it?  

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6 comments

  1. I know this downgrade was not something you wanted to do but i am so proud that you decided to respect your body. It’s SO important to listen to what it has to say, your body is filled with wisdom that has been long ago blocked by the mind. Pride smride. =D xx

  2. i have been struggling a lot with motivation/drive for the past 2 years it seems like… (ever since i had my wisdom teeth pulled and shortly thereafter starting feeling nauseaus daily…and then had a slew of other random health crap).

    after finally allowing myself to relax/take some time off – i tried a number of tactics. i gave myself a “30-mins everyday rule” – of any activity. it didn’t have to be running, i just had to be moving. i thought the variety of exercise would be a good change of pace from my usual run 5-6 days/week. i lightened my load – instead of trying to maintain my previous training level i allowed extra rest days and adjusted my mileage to be lower than before. i entered races for fun, usually with my sister(s) to help keep me from getting too competitive (i would run/walk with them). i would have also tried running with a group of people but i don’t know of any near me (i didn’t want to have to drive 20+ minutes).

    i think some people need to take a break and others just need to push through the slump. try to change things up a little – whether you meet up with a group or allow for more xt options. good luck!

  3. I hear you, lady. Making the decision to scale back or take some time off is so hard! Why are we runners so type A?? I think looking at the end goal as something you want to get to healthy, excited and in one piece is important, and if scaling back a little bit will help you get there, then so be it. If you can’t enjoy the journey, then it’s not really worth it, in my opinion. I think you’re being smart 🙂

  4. Personally, I’m a big fan of running 4 days/week over 5. Otherwise, I get burnt out on running and don’t have time for cross training. As it gets down to the wire, you may have to prioritize running, but for now it’s good to mix it up.

    I used to have the same all or nothing attitude. What helped? Getting injured actually. I now only run 2-3 miles 2x a week. I don’t have a training plan or race planned – just adjusting my form and will increase mileage when I feel ready. It’s actually very refreshing and allows time for yoga!

    You’re doing the right thing!

  5. Le sentiment d’échec vient très souvent d’un but qui a été fixé sans tenir compte de tous les paramètres. Je suis persuadée que tu peux compléter le programme que tu avais choisi, mais les circonstances actuelles (stress et anxiété de diverses sources, maladie et malaises, etc.) ne le permettent peut-être pas. En choisissant un programme, on évalue soi-même ses capacités physiques, mais un peu comme quand l’on prépare un budget, beaucoup de petits facteurs imprévus nous échappent. Et pourtant, ce sont ceux-là qui on souvent le plus d’impact sur un programme serré et chargé comme celui d’un entraînement pour le marathon. Qui sait, en suivant le programme novice, peut-être te surprendras-tu à dépasser tes attentes? (Lesquelles ont tendances, avouns-le, à être toujours bien élevées… )

    Chose certaine, je suis contente de lire que tu fais ce choix. Il me semble que c’est le bon.

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