So That Marathon I Wanted To Do? I’m Not Ready.

September 23, 2013

Lessons learned from a failed marathon

This has been a post I’ve been wanting to do but also dreading a bit- it’s time to update everyone… I’m not marathon ready.  Many of you kindly cheered me on when I committed to do my first triathlon and my first marathon for 2013.  I was amped and felt so blessed. I hired an amazing running coach who put together a solid plan for me but warned I would be cutting it close and pushing really hard, but I’ve come to the decision that I’m just not ready to go to 26.2. I hoped by some miracle I could make it work in the time provided at my current level of fitness, but I think it’s wise to reassess and be safe rather than sorry.

 

It feels awesome to get this off my chest, but I’m always so embarrassed when I don’t finish a goal like this.  I did however, do not one, but two triathlons (see uno & dos)- and I’m wondering if taking on a triathlon and a marathon (both out of my comfort zone) in the same 5 month time period is why I’m feeling so tired.  Marathon training is exhausting to begin with, but lessons learned- if you don’t prepare your whole life for the process with solid meal plans, smart scheduling and extra sleep time, it’s easy to burn out and get sick.

After the Disneyland Half three weeks ago, I felt like a truck hit me.  I was so tired and fatigued I attempted to get back on the treadmill and do at least 3 miles a few days after and I could barely get through 1.5.  The extreme fatigue lasted well over a week and I missed a good week of training, adding to my already present worry that I couldn’t face this marathon physically.  Then I rolled right into the Chicago Half Marathon and the TriRock Lake Geneva over the two weekends after that and I was toast.

I’m learning as I go how much is too much and how fast is too fast- I took on too many goals this year and while I love being busy and on the go all the time- when your goals are all huge or they compete with one another, you start to see that you’re dropping progress with your health, personal life and emotional wellbeing.

 

When to hold em when to fold em

{I apologize for getting Kenny Rogers stuck in your head}

 

I started to realize that I was running myself ragged when normal things that happen (like stress at work) started to be the tipping point- not only was I exhausted from my travels and marathon schedule, but I started to get bad headaches that turned into migraines several days a week over the last three weeks.

I’m taking time to get to the doctor now that I have health insurance to find out why I still have trouble breathing-  I lose my breath pretty frequently for a 27 year old who has been running for over a year now.  Having an HMO is time consuming- you get one test, then back for a referral, then another test, and back to your primary care doctor for a referral and it takes time to get yourself taken care of- time I didn’t have with marathon training every other day on top of a 2.5 daily round trip car commute, the blog and a full time job.

(Another red flag? The house is a disaster zone and I didn’t book my hotel for the Nashville Women’s Half this weekend and now it’s all full and I have no place to stay this Friday… I think I was a wee bit spread thin.)

So honestly- I’m not sure how many red flags I had to encounter before I admitted I had taken on too much for the rest of this year, but the boyfriend and I are solid in our plan to finish the Route 66 Half Marathon instead of the full.

I want to do a full marathon in the future, but I knew my body and my life just weren’t ready for the 26.2 distance by November.  I like to live as authentically as possible, and being real about my situation was hard but so important.  There was too much on the line to go into 26.2 miles without being 100% ready and healthy.

Okay, now that the hard part is over, I am still happy with all I’ve accomplished this year and proud that I stuck to an intense but fantastic marathon training plan from my coach for over 9 weeks of working out for a marathon and a triathlon nearly 7 days a week.  I am still going to hit my goal of 13 half marathons in 2013 (in fact I think I’ll have done 14-15), and I will have run races in 8 new states (California, Oregon, Illinois, Ohio, St. Louis, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Tennessee). I’m a proud Half Fanatic!

Personally, I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in my personal life while juggling the training program- I’ve been working as many side hustles as humanly possible beyond my day job paired with spending cuts and have saved nearly $3,000 for our wedding in 2015 (our goal is $10k so we have a ways to go).   We are refurbishing our office/guest room with all DIY projects from thrift and the blog has grown tremendously in the past few months, so I’ve been busy and still learning how to balance fitness with personal life.

As the great Kenny Rogers has said- you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, and while it’s never fun to quit, I feel confident that I’m learning more about smart goal setting instead of just goal chasing.  I’m hoping this experience will teach me when to hit, when to quit and be wiser from it.  It’s still a sucky blog post to write, but cheers to being human!  As much as I wanted to quietly slink away into the shadows about this, I feel on this blog and in my life- it’s not enough to celebrate successes, you gotta be real about failures.  I wasn’t going to fail quietly, I was committing to uncommitting. 😉

 

I hope you all can learn from my crazy adventure- if you ever feel down on yourself for not being perfect, don’t.  If you’re feeling burned out and tired and need to scale back, embrace it.  If you feel like you’re not enough and you’re not doing good enough, I’m here to listen and feel you sister!  If you’re taking on a big new goal, share it.   Life is all about exploration, sometimes it will take you to places you didn’t expect, but enjoy the journey.

 

Okay- so there you have it, I’m not ready for 26.2 in 2013.  Comments are appreciated.

 

(Also if you’re attending the Nashville Women’s Half this weekend and need a roomie, I didn’t book my hotel and they’re all full so I’m looking for a place to stay on Friday only.  Lessons learned about being stupid busy- don’t do it.)

17 comments so far.

17 responses to “So That Marathon I Wanted To Do? I’m Not Ready.”

  1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with knowing when to fold ’em. Marathon training is like a part-time job in and of itself. I have a hard time juggling it with my family and work schedule as it is so I don’t know how you were trying to manage it with such a full race calendar. While all the races are awesome, I am trying to scale back a little bit next year so that I can achieve more of my personal time goals. I too found myself spread a bit thin (ie. racing too much and not getting in the quality training). We live and learn though, right?! You will do it when the time is right. We all know you have it in you!

  2. Rebecca Jo says:

    Hey man… that’s OK… I think its excellent you know your body & you know when to stop before you push yourself too far. No shame in that – AT ALL!!!! Focus on all your other accomplishments!!!

    FYI – I’ll be interested in seeing what the doctor says about your breathing. I seem to get worse & worse with my breathing the more I run – I don’t get it.

  3. Emily T says:

    Good for you for putting it out there and being honest. 26.2 is a long way to go and requires a whole lifestyle change. What an awesome goal to have for 2014?

  4. I’m proud of you for knowing yourself enough to make this call. Runners are always encouraged to listen to their body, and it sounds like you finally are. With 14-15 half marathons this year and two triathlons, there is absolutely nothing for you to be ashamed of. I hope you find a chance to get some rest soon. It sounds like you need it. Don’t feel bad about slowing down every once in a while.

  5. You are so smart to let your body rest and recover. That is awesome that you did 2 triathlons and a half marathon this year. Totally impressed! I know how much work goes into training for triathlons and you have nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Seriously. Keep your head held high and don’t let the 26.2 miles get you down.

  6. I think it’s great that you’re listening to your body. If your heart and body aren’t in it, time to refocus. You’ll get the 26.2 eventually, when you’re ready! But, you want it to be a good experience not a rushed/stressed one. You made the right choice, girl!

  7. Megan says:

    The hardest part is admitting that — and good for you! It’s hard when we’ve worked ourselves to the bone and just can’t do it. I’m realizing that more and more lately, with the move in July and going SUPER hard since then, that half marathon training isn’t just what it *could* be … and I’m slowly becoming okay with that.

    Besides, a half is still something to brag about, even if it is #(whatever). Go girl! 🙂

  8. Nicole says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I recently backed out of a super tough hike that my friends and I have been planning since early this year. It honestly took me a few weeks to get up the courage to admit that I just wasn’t ready physically, and my head and heart aren’t in it right now for a number of reasons. I totally understand how you feel, but sometimes it’s just what you have to do.

  9. I love your honesty in this post and from experience, marathon training just takes over your life. Marathons aren’t going anywhere – they’ll be here when you’re ready.

    Can I also tell you how much I love that you quoted, “The Gambler”!? The words are so damned true but the song makes me laugh.

    I applaud you for putting your cards on the table (pun intended) and taking care of yourself. It’s so important!

    Take care of yourself and focus on the deadline stuff – races will always be there.

  10. Suzanne says:

    I love your honesty in this post. 26.2 is a huge goal and you have a lot on your plate, recognizing that is just as important. That being said the Half is just as amazing as the full. I hope we are able to cross paths sometime while you are out in my neck of the woods.

  11. Courtney says:

    Just wanted to leave you some love — sometimes it’s just not gonna happen and being overcommitted can be a cause of that. Glad that you’ve hit so many goals this year and thanks for being honest 🙂 You rock!

  12. Melina says:

    A marathon is a such a huge goal! You need to take care of yourself and come back stronger! Congrats on hitting so many goals this year!

  13. Shannyn says:

    Thanks everyone, I was so nervous as to how people would react to the news… most blogs are like “Yay, I’m AWESOME! LOOK AT ME DO STUFF!” and I felt sort of sheepish when I had to admit I bit off more than I could chew and I was worried that I’d either have a horrible first marathon or I’d get really burned out or hurt.

    Thanks, seriously.

  14. Don’t even worry about it. The fact that you were even considering it, is CRAZY and admirable in my mind! You will be able to accomplish this marathon sooner than you think! 2014 – MARATHON!! 😀

  15. emskiruns says:

    It’s great that you had the integrity and honesty to yourself to say I’m just not ready – it’s so much better than continuing to cause yourself pain and anger and illness just to hit a goal that might just be that one tiny step too far for right now.

    You’ve got loads on your plate at the moment and getting sick is really not what you need, so take some time and take care of you 🙂

    Hope the doc comes back with something helpful for the breathing issues and you can get it sorted as quickly as possible.

    x

  16. No shame in acknowledging your limits! There are always other races. You want to give yourself the time to train so you can enjoy the journey, too.

  17. Sky says:

    Good for you for paying attention to your body and needs and realizing that sometimes you can’t do everything. You’re already doing more than what most people could hope to accomplish (not many can say they’ve run multiple half-marathons and triathlons!) so that’s something to be proud of. The marathon will be there next year!

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