Well, I haven't been nearly as diligent about posting my weekly training updates as I was last year. Of course, not everything is new and exciting to me like it was last year either. That being said, today we ran seven miles. This is the farthest I've run since December, and there are a few things I've noticed.
1) I'm not in the same shape I was in last December. Last December, seven miles was something I did before work. It was fairly quick and easy, and it left me invigorated. Today, seven miles was brutal. Part of that is the heat, but a good portion of that is the fact that I didn't run for so long.
2) I'm not even in the same shape I was in last June. I can say with confidence that I feel exactly the same after this run as I did after the same run last year, but last year I was recovering from a small stomach bug. This year I'm just tired.
3) It's actually harder to train having run a marathon before. Why? Well, sure I have the mentality that I know I can do this, but I'm also comparing myself to how I was. I'm sure that had I continued training through the winter and spring that this wouldn't be an issue, but I didn't continue training, and I can feel it. Last year, everything was new and I was able to say, "Slow down. Your body needs to ease up." Or, "I feel great, keep going!" Now, all I tend to say is, "You can do better than this. Why are you so slow?" That's actually a huge mental hurdle, because it leads to all sorts of self doubt. I start to say things like, "If seven miles is this hard, will I be able to finish the marathon?" "I don't remember it being so hard to get past mile 4. I won't be able to finish a marathon if I can't get past mile 4." So, yeah, there's a big mental hurdle there, but at least I recognize it and I'm working on it.
4) I really need to cross train. I mean I REALLY need to cross train. Last year, Hans and I had been meeting on Sundays with a trainer. I don't think I quite understood just how much that was strengthening other parts of my body, and how much that helped my arms, knees, and ankles. Now, I can actually feel how weak these parts are. I can feel my knees turn in and my ankles roll (Note: this is not just when I run, but also when I climb stairs, walk on uneven surfaces, etc.). So, I need to get back in the groove of things just so I can stay healthy.
5) I'm much more scared about injuring myself. One injury was all it took. Now I really worry about every ache and pain. Of course, due to the fact that I'm not cross training as much, I'm at a greater risk for injury, so that doesn't help.
Essentially, what I'm learning is that there are things I need to work on. I need to get out of my head a bit, but I also need to focus on my body. I'm not perfect, and I need to be OK with that. I will improve, but not overnight. These are hard things to learn, but I'm getting there.