Changing Up Training To Prevent Physical and Mental Burnout
As logical as the situation may seem, it took me literally months to come to the conclusion that trying to run my first marathon in June or July was not a great idea. Despite the fact that there are - rightfully - not many marathons in those months, I was still trying to make it happen until I eventually came to the conclusion that my high sweat rate and proclivity for running in the middle of the day do not mix well with 14+ mile training runs this time of year.
After many fits, starts, and brutal long run days, it also dawned on me that maybe it wasn't a great idea to be beating my body up with 14-15 mile runs on a regular basis when I didn't have a set race date in mind.
I was starting to get burned out on running. I also started doing the math and remembered that The Bear was closing in on me, which presented a perfect opportunity to transition from grueling distance training to speed and hill work with more strength training mixed in. It's remarkably easier to get motivated for my runs now that I know I don't have to spend hours at a time pounding pavement.
Eventually, I may learn from my own patterns and tailor my training throughout the year so that I don't get these awkward phases between hardcore training seasons.
For this year's Bear run (an almost all uphill, 5 mile run on Grandfather Mountain), I know I want to at least do better than last year (that pained yet elated look on my face always cracks me up) and hopefully get under 50 minutes. Sure, 10 minute miles sounds easy, but this race is an animal - pun slightly intended. Cutting around 7 minutes off of last year's time is an aggressive goal, but I like to think my stilted marathon training has increased my endurance over last year so now I just need to focus on keeping my speed up.
I feel like there's no good way to train for this race except for going to the mountains periodically to adjust to the continual climbing and the different atmospheric conditions. Barring that, I'm trying to just do a lot of hill work, which is easy since in this part of NC I don't have much choice. I also like to think that the stifling humidity is as close to the thinner air of the mountains, but that may be pure pseudoscience.