I set out several weeks ago to train for a marathon, knowing there might be a chance I'd have to change my end goal to a half marathon. And so that has happened. Maybe my training plan was too ambitious for where I was in my body, having spent the better part of a year not running and generally trying to avoid being on my feet, or rather my foot, and then slowly coming back to running over the course of four months. I started with a two-mile test run one week, then three miles, gradually adding on a couple more low-mile run days per week. So to expect to go from that careful, measured reentry to a full-on marathon training was perhaps unrealistic, though hopeful. And that I was hopeful is okay; for a time when I wasn't running, I was not hopeful and had forgotten that it was okay to have hope.
But back to my current reality. When I did my farthest long run since April 2015, 12 miles, my body did not support it. Both feet hurt, my hips hurt. And not just in the typical pavement-pounded, pushed-beyond-comfort kind of way, but in a screaming, "stop torturing me" kind of way. So for one of few times in my running life, I decided to listen to my body and ease off. The risk of real damage was too real, still too fresh in my mind.
Although resolute, I was still frustrated. What was this pain? Why couldn't my body handle a fraction of the distance it used to without much pain at all? I chocked it up to aging. Some people do it better than others. Genetics were not in my favor, with arthritis on one side, gout on another. Not to mention asthma, allergies—all of these inflammatory conditions that had no cure and few truly effective treatments. A healthy lifestyle was the best way to combat symptoms. What more could I do? I already maintained a blandly healthy diet, avoided all the anti-inflammatory foods, exercised regularly, slept plenty, drank tons of water, took the supplements deemed most healthful according to recent research and then flip-flopped along with said research. I did sit a lot; my job required it. Little remained that I could change. Would I need to give up my beloved single glass of red wine a couple times a week? Or, even more horrifying, coffee? No. I wouldn't do it. I needed what little sanity I still squeaked by with.
This was the rabbit hole I sent myself down. That narrow tunnel of thoughts that I believed would lead to a solution, a plan ... something I could control. The further I descended, considering and then dismissing each possible answer, the more helpless I felt. Once I came to grips, I simply decided to cut back a bit on mileage the next week, and I would decide about my long run distance at the last minute. Ten miles or 14. It ended up being 10. And so my decision to cut back to the half marathon distance was effectively made. I still haven't changed my registration for the race. At this point, there's no chance of still running a marathon, the way I'd want to, but I'm still having a hard time making the official change. I have until September 22 to do it. I don't exactly have a plan anymore, but I know I'm running plenty of weekly miles for a half marathon in early November. I'm still trying to figure out where everything else fits in—swimming, strength, yoga, bike (the latter two I've all but abandoned).
I did reach a swimming goal that was a year in the making: I swam 111 miles from September 2015 to September 2016, coming in a week early, even. I'll give myself a back pat for that. Even though it was a long-term goal, it felt super nice to accomplish something athletically. I realized recently I haven't raced in one and a half years—enough time to start thinking, maybe I don't need to race to feel accomplished. That's partly true, but I also know I've come to both miss and fear racing. The hottest part of summer will soon start to to subside here in Tampa. Any day now. Very soon. We'll start to have some shorter-distance local races again, and I shall sign up for one.