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Rebel with a Cause?

That was me, last weekend. Or perhaps more accurately, that was my body, rebelling against my will. After coming off of a--dare I say--good 18-miler in the previous weekend, I had only to complete a 12-mile long run. I did my normal Friday night prepping and set four alarms for early Saturday morning. When those alarms went off, I heard them, but I chose to ignore them. I can't tell you what I thought in that moment, except that I wanted to sleep more than I wanted to run. But it's never about wanting to run for me; it's about having the strength and will to do something important for myself. So the fact that I ignored all four alarms that morning was, frankly, alarming to me. But I carried on with my Saturday with a plan to do the run in the evening.

I set out at about 7:45pm, when the sun was nearly set, and I began my journey. I was feeling fine until about 1.5 miles in, when the humidity started to get to me, and my legs started hurting. I had experienced this before--on my 14-miler. I felt like I just wouldn't be able to finish, so I decided to abandon the run and do it early the next morning. After all, it had worked brilliantly for the 14-miler.

So I went to bed early again, set my alarms, and tried to impress upon my brain how important it was for me to respond to those alarms. This would be my last opportunity of the weekend to complete the run. So what did I do when I heard those alarms the next morning? I shut them down! As if to say, take that, alarm clock. And further, take that, long run! Take that, training schedule! And to obligation as a whole, take that! I'm sleeping in.

And so I did not do my long run this past weekend. In fact, I did little more than plan for my long run and go to sleep early for my long run and then sleep in when I wanted to ignore my nagging long run. Of course, my sudden rebellion did not actually make me feel empowered; it only made me feel disappointed and fretful. What if I did the same thing on next weekend's run--the big 20-miler? I didn't think I was capable of this, but apparently I am.

Something occurred to me in the days after my act of resistance: it was at about this point in my last and only marathon training program that I got injured. It was just after the 20-mile run. I wonder if, subconsciously, I'm afraid of moving past this point. Perhaps this connection is too much of a stretch, but I find it interesting nonetheless. I know how psychological running is, and mental barriers are often more powerful than physical ones.

But perhaps, as others have said, my body was telling me it needed to rest. It's difficult for me to not compare myself to others--particularly those in my running group who are checking off multiple 20-mile runs from their training plans and seeming none the wearier for it. But I'm not them, and they're not me. Right now, I feel like I should really just be grateful that I've come this far in what is decidedly an unnatural pursuit. So as long as my body has a different message for me next week, I suppose I won't dwell on this minor setback.


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