We’re Not Worthy!

I had a decent (but slow) trail run today (2 full loops of Bagley Nature Center and one short loop for a little over 4 miles), and while I was running these slow miles, I was once again wondering how I am ever going to complete a marathon before the cutoff. I mean, really, I know I could, because I could just walk the whole way and probably do it in fewer than 7 hours. Maybe. Not at the pace I was going today, but of course that was through snow. I’m not sure if that made enough difference though. We’ll see.

I read a lot of random message boards, social media, and articles about running, especially those that are long-distance running-related, and it seems like there’s a weird attitude about marathons and those who run them. Specifically, there’s an attitude that everyone and their mother runs marathons and everyone and their mother shouldn’t be. I do think it’s stupid to make a goal of running a single marathon just to check it off a bucket list, but I don’t think it’s stupid for more people to get interested in a sports. There’s also a weird attitude about slow people, like slow people don’t belong on the course. This attitude seems to come from people whose times I could only dream of, but who are solid middle-of-the-packers. Slow runners don’t belong in the first corral or at the front of the starting line of a race, no. Slow runners need to watch where they’re running and not clog up the course, but so do medium runners and fast runners. All runners need to be respectful of others on the course, but it’s usually the slow runners who take the heat for making mistakes or being rude on a course.

I also see people question individuals who are running marathons, wondering why they would want to. Why not run a 5K? Why not start out with a little bitty race and leave the big marathons to those of us who were running marathons before it was cool (aka they’ve run like four of them)? Maybe I’m projecting a little. I can’t answer this question on behalf of all runners, but I can answer it for myself.

I’m not interested in training for a 5K right now. I am signed up for one, but that’s really just a training run and a chance to figure out how to behave at a race before I get lost or miss the bus or show up late for a marathon. I just don’t see the point of training for a 5K as a goal race when I am so slow. Most people could just drop by a 5K on the day of, wearing jeans and flip-flops, and throw down a better time than I could. Well, maybe not most people, but enough that I find it embarrassing. Plus I don’t have any interest in doing speed work and track workouts in the middle of winter. I also want to get into trail and ultra running once my endurance and speed have improved, so training for a 5K isn’t going to do much good for me. I’d rather race through the woods for 12 hours than get stampeded by a bunch of zippy 5Kers.

I’m still not sure I want to run a marathon yet. I’m not sure I’m fast enough to complete the training without it completely taking over my life. Obviously I am one week in and I am still running based off my goal heart rate of 142 bpm, so I am not sure where I’m really at. My plan right now is to continue with the heart rate training restriction until Week 6 of the marathon training plan (so the week of March 23rd), when the training plan has its first medium run as well as its first planned hill workout. I do think the training has been working, as I didn’t have such a heck of a time getting up the large hill at Bagley without my heart rate shooting through the ceiling, but I have decided it’s not going to work very well for this training cycle. I’m still going to keep 142 bpm as a goal heart rate for any “easy” run, but I’m going to have to abandon that pace for medium runs and tougher runs.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to do an entire training cycle with heart rate training, but as of now, these sad 17:xx paces aren’t going to cut it. I suppose if I see some significant improvements in the paces I can achieve once the snow is gone and the weather warms up a bit (and I mean to the 30s and low 40s, I’m managing my expectations) maybe I can revisit that plan, but I don’t anticipate becoming a (relative) speed demon just because the windchill isn’t torturous.

No matter what I decide to do, I would like to extend both of my middle fingers to anyone who looks down on slow runners. We’re all slow relative to someone else.

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