On March 31st, I ran the Encinitas half marathon for the third year in a row. I have a strong connection to Encinitas, so when they started half marathons three years ago, I couldn’t resist. My first two races were euphoric but this year was a bear!!! I struggled not only with the training, but failed to get that race day “adrenaline”. I broke the cardinal rule and started out too fast only to lose steam around mile 8. By mile 10, my mental energy plummeted and I feared my body would collapse. I was really struggling!!! What happened??? These races were always the high point of my year.
Endurance is More Mental than Physical
They say that endurance sports require more mental strength than physical strength. It certainly didn’t “feel” this way last Sunday when my body wanted to shut down – but in the end – my mind refused to give up. There is nothing scarier than when you “hit a wall” during a run. This happened towards the end of the race when my legs turned to Jell-O. A colossal blister gnawed at my big toe and I was dehydrated. I was keenly aware of the runners who moved to the side to rest. My body was screaming to join them – but my mind was not giving in. Part stern parent, “Don’t give up now”, part compassionate coach, “C’mon you can do this” helped grind through the last “tedious” section. Despite my body’s desires – stopping was NOT an option!!! I knew that if I stopped – it was over. So, I slowed my pace down and persevered!!!
When to Give Up and When to Keep Going
Training was harder this year than prior years. Rain and cooler temperatures threw off my schedule and hampered my recovery. Recurring pain made running arduous and unpleasant.
Concerned friends asked, “Why don’t you just stop??” — A question I had to consider!! Why WAS I doing this when the fun was being vacuumed up?
I didn’t have to think hard as I already knew the answer. I made a commitment to myself. That’s it!!
Having Help and a Support
I’m not sure I could have endured without my husband as my “support staff”. It was critical but also a luxury to have his help. There were countless mornings I’d consult with him about the weather and if I should risk running in the rain or throw on an extra layer. And there was nothing better than when he’d rub my sore feet or draw an Epsom salt bath for my weary body.
If no one can be your support staff then schedule extra self-care and find someone you can talk to about your running experience.
In the End
Despite my struggles, I finished with my best time yet for the Encinitas Half Marathon. I enjoy working hard towards a goal because I grow so much during the process and when it’s over, I am grateful that I challenged myself. I also realize that life isn’t always how we imagine it will be. Sometimes, its a struggle.
For additional half marathon tips please read these articles:
- Encinitas Half Marathon Notes 2018
- 5 Exciting Benefits of Running a Half Marathon
- Half Marathon Self Discipline and Training Tips for Vegans