Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Am I a failure?

Let's just get straight to the point: I have decided not to run the half marathon on Aug. 21.

I know, I know! All that crap I had been spouting about my enthusiasm for running and sense of accomplishment looks like a bunch of BS now, but truth be told it probably was a bunch of BS. But I feel strongly (right now, anyway) that I have several valid excuses for bowing out. The biggest of which is that training for a half marathon had taken all of the fun out of running. I was stuck on what I believed to be this rigid training schedule. Every run was mapped out and measured. After a run was over, I calculated my total time, distance, and pace. If i missed a run, I felt tremendously guilty, and if I finished a run I scrutinized my pace and performance. All of this rigidity, analysis, and scrutiny turned running from something I enjoyed doing, a hobby, to something more like a job. It sucked!

Another reason for bowing out: it's fucking HOT this summer. And not like a normal "Wow, it's warm outside!" hot, but a "Holy shit! I feel like I am standing on the surface of the sun!" hot. I heard recently that this summer is shaping up to be one of the hottest summers on record (maybe Al Gore wasn't full of shit?). This morning it was 76 degrees at 5 am, and the heat index was around 451 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity is so bad, when I step outside it feels like I have a hot tub in my jockstrap. And I am not cut out for running in these kind of temperatures. Again, it sucked!

And another reason: I am not educated on the ways of long distance running. Specifically, I am bad about nutrition for these kind of things. For a typical 3/4/5 mile run, I will get up at 4:30am, put on clothes (that's right ladies, I sleep in the buff!), stretch, hopefully have a bm, and go out and run. I may drink few ounces of water, but I never eat anything before I run these distances. Anything further and I try to eat a little something about an hour before I run. Usually like a whole wheat bagel or english muffin with peanut butter and a piece of fruit. Typically, that would be more than enough food. Except when I ran an 8 mile route on a Saturday, I noticed some of the telltale signs of low blood sugar about 7 miles into it. My lips started to tingle and my thought processes were not real clear. I drank some gatorade and a kashi bar when I got home, but it had me really worried. Another nutrition problem was that when I wasn't running, I was eating everything in sight. My appetite was insatiable. It got so bad that I actually started to gain weight during this program. So I dieted...wrong idea! When I went out to run the next weekend, I had no energy at all. I barely made it 5 miles, and I even had brought a water bottle of gatorade with me. I read up on some nutritional info for marathon training, but I found it to be somewhat confusing and definitely not appropriate for me. Most info said that hydration was important, but a runner only needs to eat about every 2 hours. Hell, I couldn't make it 45 minutes without feeling like I might pass out. if I should try anything like a half marathon again, I believe I would look into some nutritional and physical training.

And another thing: I was so dedicated to my running, that I had not ridden my bike in over a month. Now I have two problems with that. First, I invested a lot of money in that bike. too much for it to just be sitting in the garage collecting dust. Second, I really like biking. Sure riding any kind of real distances takes a lot of time (time that is in short supply in my life), but riding is very liberating and comforting to me. I enjoy riding because it doesn't feel like a workout, and I really missed that feeling.

So, what now? Well I have rededicated myself to running (what?). Except now I am running some shorter distances (no more than 4 or 5 miles) at a pace where I don't feel like I am having a heart attack. I have also started some weight training again, and I am going to watch what I eat. Which is much easier when I am not dying for food after running. I have also gotten out and ridden Roxanne again. I had a nice ride last Saturday around Allerton Park and back into town. It was really fun. So, if time allows, Saturdays will be my riding days.

I thought about it today on my 4 mile run...when I started working out I needed the goal of a race to really get me moving. And that first 5k was really fun, but now training for the half marathon was more like a job. I actually missed working out for fun! Maybe I don't need a race goal anymore, or maybe I just wussed out. I am not too broken up about it, but I have to ask. Am I a failure for dropping out of the half marathon?


  1. To answer your question: Hell no!

    The way I see it, your half marathon goal was secondary to your getting healthy/getting in shape goals. It's not about the races, it's about the life you're living between the races.

  2. Thanks, Jeff! I really like your comment about the life you live between the races; I might have to borrow that one.

  3. There's an article I wish I could find - it was in the Adventure magazine awhile ago. The basic message is this: the people who are the best at surviving / succeeding are the ones who are capable of re-assessing changing situations - i.e. 'where am I now, what is happening now'.

    It's easy to get stuck in the 'I had planned to do x (half-marathon), therefore I must do it. It's more challenging to re-assess, and to make changes based on current facts. i.e. I am starting to hate running, my body is not responding well to this training, and it's TOO HOT.

    As a cyclist I've been learning this - it's not easy to change goals partway through!

    So - new goals?


  4. Weight loss! this started out as the overall goal for me and my wife years ago; I thought I woudl refocus on that and my overall health. check out the post from today.