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The uphill climb

My next marathon (Vancouver, WA) is actually my 4th marathon, but in training for it, I feel unsure about myself all over again. I have not yet reached that point where everything is just lock-step for me, and plus, training through the winter was a brand new experience, since usually I don't get much mileage during January, February, and March.

Hashtag: story of my life
It's been really hard not to compare myself right now to how I was doing at this point in my training for CIM a few months ago, especially since my tendency has been to focus on the highlights of my training from back then, rather than to remember the everyday ups and downs. For example, during my taper period, I managed to run ten miles at an overall 11:30 pace, which was waaaaaay fast even for me. (I normally go 12:30-13:30.) I remember being shocked... and pleased.

That's what goes through my head as I run now. I ran ten miles at an 11:30 pace. So when I fall short of that, which has been pretty much every long run these days, I get really bummed out. And I question myself. Why am I so slow? Why do I feel so sluggish all the time?

Nevermind that that run happened during my taper period, which was at the peak end of my program, and right now I'm just barely halfway through this current training period.

Nevermind that I had put in a solid 2+ months of consistent running to get to that point, whereas right now, I'm coming off a winter full of interruptions due to death plagues, nerve inflammation, and blisters from hell.

Nevermind that that particular run had me doing a 5/1 interval, and right now I'm still only doing 3/1 and 4/1 (so my pace is slower right now because my training program actually specifies it).

Nevermind all of those logic-filled reasons. The irrational part of my brain is dead-set on focusing on my shortcomings, even though they're not really shortcomings.

Even though I am the same person (inside), and I'm using the same training program, things are not the same, and I have to keep reminding myself NOT to compare, because it really won't turn out in my favor. My body really isn't the same - the changes in my muscle and fat composition are quite visibly different, thanks to a more solid background in weight training, and I'm more tired because I'm working out waaaaay harder, week by week, than I was before. The conditions I'm running in are not the same: it's April right now, and the weather is getting warmer all the time. My 20-miler is scheduled for the end of May, which is far different from the middle of November, which is when I last ran a 20-miler. And this time, my actual race is at the end of June instead of the beginning of December, and considering how I run better in colder weather, I can't necessarily expect that I'll get similar results from my training when the big day comes.

It's not fair to myself to compare my performances, because I'm not even training for the same race. But it's a hard habit to shake - I felt like I achieved a certain level of greatness (for me, anyway), and I'm so eager to get back to that point. And I feel like my body is not cooperating with me, when in reality, it IS cooperating with me, but I'm failing to remember that I'm asking it to do something quite different this time around (3 days a week of heavy weight training in addition to 4 days a week of training for a marathon in spring climate).

I'm not giving up - not even close - but it would do me some good to hit the pause button and get some perspective on the situation. And to stop beating myself up about it mentally and just enjoy the journey.