“On your worst day of running, you still inspire someone.” This is what I remind myself when I get down.
Unfortunately, I have been down a lot lately. Just over a year ago, I made a mistake while lifting weights. I hurt my knees. I ran the Secret City Half Marathon last year on hurting knees, but then I took almost the entire month of December 2013 off to allow my knees to recover. 2013 had been a year full of personal records. I was up, up, up and flying high. I was strong and fast.
I entered 2014 by racing a 5K on New Year’s Day that was considerably slower than my recent 5Ks. This was not a big surprise since had just taken a month off. What did surprise me was that it would take me a full year to get back to the shape I had been in before the knee incident. I suppose that bike wreck and concussion in February didn’t do me much good either.
I trained hard and fast. I took breaks after the longest races. I did many things right. Still, I have been plagued with “bad days” time and time again in 2014. At my first Boston Marathon, I struggled very early. I started out as planned, but got slower every mile. I finished nearly 2 hours slower than my goal and required medical attention.
I focused on shorter distances in the summer more than ever before. Still, I fell short on the personal records set in 2013. I was getting closer as I went into fall, but my fall marathon had the same difficulties I had experienced a couple of years ago. I struggled to maintain pace after the half way mark and gradually faded. I managed to qualify for Boston 2016, but just barely. I finished about 10 minutes slower than I had in both of my marathons in 2013.
The only course PR that I set this year was at the Townsend 15K. I believed I had finally gotten my speed back by the end of November 2014. I was training very well. I expected to compete for a PR or come very close at the Secret City Half Marathon in 2014. Unfortunately, I was ill on that day. I was nauseous on the way to the race. I tried to ignore that and started the race as I had planned. I was fine until mile 4. I slowed from 6:28 in miles 2 and 3 to a 7:30 in mile 4. I considered stopping. I considered puking, thinking I would probably feel better if I could let it out. I decided to press on and make the best of it. I pushed myself as hard as I could. I managed to squeak out a 7:00 average pace by the end of the half marathon. It was not race-day jitters. I was ill for the next 36 hours.
I am frustrated. I am as fast as I have ever been, but I just can’t seem to show it. Staying positive is the only defense against such thoughts.
- I am grateful that my knees did recover.
- I am grateful that I survived the bike wreck (car involved) without anything but a concussion.
- I am grateful that I have made a strong comeback, even if I have not shown it in a race just yet.
- I am grateful that I have a loving wife who is patient with me as I go through all of these struggles.
Not everyone has these things.
I am privileged.
I am blessed.
I am frustrated, but I will not give up. My training is working. I am enjoying running. I can’t let performance on race-day detract from that.
“On your worst day of running, you still inspire someone.” This is what I remind myself when I get down. That is when I find the strength to stop the pity party and keep running. They are my legs. It is my effort. It is my time. Still, it’s not all about me. That makes it worth the effort no matter how I do.
“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”
– P. Mark Taylor
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