When most people ask me what the hardest part of training for a marathon or half marathon they expect me to say the long runs on Saturdays and Sundays but I believe that another aspect of training is well ahead of those runs. I have found that actually NOT running is the hardest part of training. When you train you have to have the mindset that you will run four-five times a week and those runs are necessary so I have found that if you have to miss one or some of these scheduled runs you find yourself in a depression from not running, rather than a depression because you have to run 20 miles on your Saturday morning.
Any marathoner has been there, that time when you have a scheduled run and something unexpected or unplanned comes up and causes you to miss your run. Later that day you feel the dread of missing the run and you begin to feel a state of running depression when that causes you to believe that missing just a few runs can set you back months of training. Whether missing the run was from an illness, an unplanned emergency, a family event, a vacation or something else going about your business that day while remembering that you were supposed to be out pounding the pavement instead is always difficult.
I have experienced that sense of running depression lately. Last Saturday on mile 9 of my 11 mile long run I felt an unfamiliar discomfort in my left knee. I slowed down and the pain subsided only to pop up a half mile later causing me to slow down again until it disappeared. The discomfort remained after my run so I began to look into what could be causing it and it turns out that it is my IT band that is irritated and causing the pain. Fortunately it is just from over use and with some rest and some ice it will be back to normal soon…but the resting is the hard part.
As I continue to rest and miss my planned training runs I have to continue to remind myself that resting now will bring about better results in the long run. My goal race in Chicago is not until the middle of October so I have plenty of time to put in the miles before the big race. With that being said I still get a feeling of jealousy when I drive home and see someone enjoying their run in cool summer weather this week. I even had to miss going on a run with Bride this week because of my injury. This week has taught me one thing, the next time when I am at mile 14 and dreading the next few until my long run is done, I will take comfort in the fact that at least I am running and not having to go through the hardest part of training.