Okay, friends, happy Monday! Is it still Marathon Monday for many of you? For me, not so much, at least not in the literal sense. As part of the far reaching, ongoing global plot twist served up by the Corona Virus, our Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon has been postponed until October 4th.
It’s only postponed, not cancelled, but things are not necessarily that simple. The 12-18 week training cycle layered against the realities of summer travel (which I realize may or may not be possible either), hot and steamy weather, competing events on October 4th, and just the sense of abandoning all the progress I have made these past few months… it all had me spinning for a while. Some of my running friends have decided to forge on with current training then run “virtual” races on their original spring race dates, albeit most likely alone. Some people have gone immediately to maintenance running or less. I am probably going to fall somewhere in the middle.
After wrestling with my options and kind of letting the dust settle, as my friend Jeff described it, I have decided to pause heavy training for now, despite how well it was going, but keep up the spirit of the plan in my own ways for a few months. Then by mid-summer I will reevaluate the October race.
Last week would have been Week 13 of the plan, meant for really gaining momentum toward peak volume and the hardest workouts, but instead I was as glued to the news as anyone, devouring sugary trail mix, and consumed by a new sense of urgency about growing our own food (more on that later this week). I barely scraped together 35 miles and made a couple of pathetic efforts to get reacquainted with my baby hexagon weights, ha. My arm and back muscles were so sore afterwards that I thought for SURE I had the coronas.
Aches! Stiffness! General lethargy! Are these symptoms of the virus? Just kidding.
To say that I was distracted and unfocused last week is an understatement; but knowing this was a community-felt undercurrent helps me kind of package it up and set it squarely in the past.
I have sulked and scrolled Twitter and eaten extra carbs pointlessly for enough days.
Here is what I know, regardless of whether or when I might race next:
- Running is fun! It feels awesome. I hope to run for most of the rest of my life, and racing (for me) has very little to do with that.
- So far in Oklahoma we are still free to run outdoors as long as we remain at a safe distance from other people, and on days when that does not feel like the right choice, I still have my 0.33 mile loop on the sandy hills of our back field plus my reliable treadmill. For these I am truly thankful.
- Handsome and I suddenly have very little on our calendar outside of farm and garden projects, so running is less intrusive to our life than it sometimes is.
- Running is an excellent stress relief, it helps me feel energized and happy, and having a little weekly structure will help me keep a positive outlook.
So I will continue running a similar and fluctuating volume, 40-65 miles per week, but with the luxury of flexibility to make adjustments for real life priorities as needed. This is where my body feels best, where I can keep my energy up for a busy summer garden season and my jeans size down at a reasonable volume, and where I believe that I could easily join in on a spontaneous half marathon with no trouble.
I will also strive to vary my pace and distance daily, eschewing that dreaded “grey zone,” but not running hard SOS workouts as often. Maybe tend to some of the lower leg and feet pains I have been feeling lately. There is wisdom in getting leaner and fitter overall but saving some enthusiasm and focus for the upcoming summer cycle, if I dive into that. (The BIB is already paid for, and the race is local, so the thought of dismissing it wholesale makes me nauseous.)
Something I have been actively reminding myself to celebrate is how much progress I made from mid-January to early March, and that all stays in my body if I maintain it. That all stays in my mind, too, if I capture it.
The internalization of how each pace feels, the luscious union of breath and cadence, the swell of energy when you hit the fourth or fifth or eighth tempo mile. (It feels like riding the wave pool at White Water when we were kids.)
I get to retain the times I won arguments with myself over whether or not to attempt something difficult, and the sourness of disappointment when I cut an interval a few seconds short. Both are instructive.
I can hang onto the slow build of confidence from completing longer and harder workouts. The pleasure of fasted runs that cleansed me. Fueled runs when I overcame fear of food in my belly, ha! All of it. And if I understand the method as well as I think I do, the physiological adaptations are progressive. I have not lost much in just a week of mediocre activity, so I can keep my body healthy and maintain some stuff for a while then see what additional magic is available later.
Plus, before long, watermelons will be abundant, and that makes everything better.
Honest confession, I cried a little bit when the decision was finally made to postpone the race. But in the scheme of things, this is so small. We all have much bigger problems. I have millions of very real blessings to count, among them the pleasures and lasting effects of the past ten weeks. It is the training, after all, that changes us, not the race.
Take care, friends, and happy running!