MensJournal.com Senior Editor Mike Conklin is running his first marathon, the Rock 'n' Roll DC Marathon, on March 11, 2017, and he's documenting his training here with weekly posts. Here's last week's. You can also follow him on Twitter and Strava.
If you’ve read as many marathon training blogs as some of us have, you know that there is always at least one week when things just totally fall apart for the runner — when speed work is skipped, when long runs are cut drastically short, when, for whatever reason, things just don’t click, and the hopeful athlete finds his or herself in a situation where there is literally not one thing on the planet that sounds less appealing than running.
For me, this happened last week — you know, the first week of the new year? When everyone else was vowing to be better? Going out for that first jog in a while, crowding local gyms and the nut aisle in your local megamart, where they stock up almonds and other healthy snacks in an attempt to finally stop eating peanut M&Ms at their desk all day? Yeah, well.
While most reasonable, good-intentioned folks were behaving thusly, I simple decided, “Nope, I’m not doing this shit right now.” For a few days, at least. Here’s what that looked like…
New Year’s Day! A new beginning! A fresh start! A mild hangover and a lack of motivation! No, it wasn’t really all that bad — I had a 13-mile-long run scheduled for today, but I’d planned ahead of time to instead sleep in and push it a day, taking advantage of the fact that I had Monday off from work. Which brings us to…
Ok! Long-run time! Got up a little before 6, stopped for a bagel and some peanut butter, drove to the path where I run, and… it immediately started raining. No big deal, I thought… I’ll wait it out. So I sat in my car messing around on my phone. I may have even dozed off for a second. It started raining harder and then let up. I summoned every bit of energy I had, got all my gear on and headed out — I’d braved elements like this once before, why should this time be any different? Well, because, ugh: This is miserable and uncomfortable and getting really old. I got not even a quarter-mile into my run before decisively saying to myself, "Fuck this, I’m not doing this shit again."
And just like that, I got back in my car and drove home, where I sat on my couch feeling... well, I don’t know how I was feeling. Part of me was wracked with guilt, furious that there was now basically no way my total mileage for the week would be anywhere near where it was supposed to be. But there was another part of me, the part that reads all those other marathon training blogs, that always knew this was going to happen at one point. I knew there was no chance I was getting through this whole thing without falling badly off course and then having to get my shit back together. So to some extent I was ok with it. For the time being, anyway.
First day back at work after the holiday, didn’t do anything physical. Focused on eating well and staying hydrated, preparing to salvage the week to the best of my ability.
At roughly 7:25 in the morning, I felt my wife nudging me. “Why are you here?” she asked. Why was I there? Because my alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. and I hit snooze and then at some point just shut it off altogether. On some level I must have been thinking, "If you're going to have a bad week, why not just go in and have a really bad week?" I was supposed to go on a five-mile regular run but instead did nothing. Halfway through the week, and my total mileage was still holding strong at zero. Awesome.
At this point, I stopped even paying attention to what was on my training schedule, and I focused all my energy on just getting out the door. I felt like I hadn't run in weeks and, to be honest, still had very little interest in doing so. But by a little after 6 a.m., inspired at least in part by the sight of my trusty old pair of bright orange Mizuno Wave Sayonara 4s, I managed to drag myself out into the cold morning. I logged a paltry 3.2 miles before having to get back home to prepare for the day. Not exactly impressive, but something.
I was intent on putting together my own little mini running streak to close out the week, so I was once again up and out the door for some pre-work miles — junk miles, essentially, and only 3.1 of them. But under the circumstances, it felt like a win.
Kept the mini-streak alive with four more miles on a very cold morning. After getting my legs back into the swing of things over the previous couple days, I was feeling strong and energized — maybe I actually needed those days off? Who knows.
Week 7 at a Glance...
Total Miles on the Schedule: 28-32
Total Miles Completed: Uhhh, 10.3.
Skipped Workouts: Basically all of them.
High point: They were few and far between, that's for sure. I took some satisfaction in getting out there on a bunch of consecutive days, but... not a whole lot.
Low Point: Realizing I'd slept through Wednesday morning's workout was pretty terrible, as were all the other moments throughout the week — even on the days when I did log a few miles — when I was forced to consider that I might be headed toward abject failure at this whole pursuit.
Key Pieces of Gear: The few miles I did run this week were in some pretty brutal cold, so I relied heavily on a few key layering pieces—specifically, a trio of base layers: the Smartwool PhD Light, the Smartwool Mid 150, and the Ibex Woolies 1 Zip T-Neck), all of which perform perfectly. I also picked up a merino wool Buff that helps keep the freezing cold air off my nose and out of my lungs. Oh! And I've officially fallen in love with a new pair of shoes, the Saucony Breakthru 3, which you'll hear more about next week. So good.
Next week: 22-26 miles on the schedule. For better or worse, the halfway point of my training.
For more info about the United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington, D.C., Marathon, follow them on Twitter or Facebook, and to join in the conversation, use the hashtag #RNRDC. And if you want to sign up to join me on March 11, use the code RUNNINGDC to get $15 off your race fee.