Last week, I was stressed.
Stressed about finishing the dissertation on time, and wrapping up teaching for the semester, and the holidays, and my ten-year high school reunion. But most of all, stressed about running.
When I crossed the finish line at the Philly Marathon
, my first thought was, “whew! Time for a break!” I had been training and racing for eleven months straight (and when I wasn’t training regularly while we were backpacking through Germany for three weeks, I was feeling guilty about not training regularly). I was ready for a little bit of down time.
There was only one problem.
The Bel Monte Endurance Challenge isn’t until March, but according to the training schedule that Bess
and I came up with, the day of Philly was supposed to be our first long training run.
I spent the week after the race trying to wrap my head around four more straight months of serious training. I ran a couple times, and while I felt okay for the most part physically, mentally I was a ball of nerves.
This was not going to go well.
Finally, on Tuesday morning, I sent Bess a text message. We had plans to meet at 6:45 AM and head for the trails, but I found myself searching for excuses. It was really cold. It had rained the day before, and the leaves would be slippery. Maybe the trails would be covered in ice. Is that a pain in my right foot?
“What do you say we skip the run and meet up for coffee to talk about the ultra?” I wrote just after six.
An hour later, we were sitting in a Starbucks halfway between our houses, making small talk as I tried to figure out what I wanted to say. “You could just offer Ali
your slot for the race,” Brent had told me before I left.
But I didn’t want to not do the Ultra. I just didn’t want to be training for it right now.
Finally, I found the words. I told Bess that I needed a few weeks to re-calibrate, that I was happy to keep running, but that those runs couldn’t be toward any particular ends. I didn’t want to feel guilty if I didn’t feel like running; I didn’t want to feel like I was letting down a friend.
And you know what?
She totally got it.
I should have known.
We decided to push back the start of training until mid-January. Between now and then, one or both of us will be traveling every couple weeks, to Scotland (her) and New England (me) and Chicago (her) and San Diego (me). We couldn’t get into a routine if we tried.
For now, we’ll keep running, together and separately, when we feel like running. And come January 13, we’ll be off to the races.
I haven’t touched my running shoes this week. I biked a fair bit, while watching terrifically terrible teenybopper television fresh from Netflix. I stretched and strength-trained when I thought of it, and went for a couple walks.
But I didn’t stress about it on the two days that I didn’t feel like doing anything active. And I didn’t get annoyed with myself when I came home and turned on the TV on a couple of occasions.
It was wonderful.
As it turns out, my dissertation is right where it should be; my classes ended yesterday on a high note; we’re entering the calm before the Chanukah and Christmas storm; and my high school reunion was actually pretty fun.
Now, I’m going to turn off the computer, down some toast and peanut butter, and meet up with Bess for a couple hours out on the trails.
And I can’t wait.