“Training is a blessing.”

I knew I was speaking too soon when I said that the taper crazies hadn’t set in yet.  The last 48 hours have been a rollercoaster of emotion.  Here’s a recap:

  • Tues morning: Sent out an email to my sister and friends in DC/MD/VA about spectating at MCM. Wheeeee!
  • Tues afternoon: MCM announces that the race might be canceled due to the government shutdown.  An official decision will be posted Saturday.
  • Tues late afternoon: Lots of denial, and posting on social media to express ALL THE FEELINGS.
  • Tues evening: Start researching back-up marathons the week after MCM. Fortunately, there are 2 races within a 3 hour drive.  Not the most exciting courses, but at least my training won’t be wasted.
  • Wed morning: Head out for a tempo run, my last real workout of the MCM training cycle, with a heavy heart.  “What’s the point?” I think.
  • Wed morning, post-run: Get word from a friend that the Senate reached an agreement to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. This makes me extremely relieved, but I won’t believe MCM is back on until the House passes the bill.
  • Wed workday: Anxiously check (and re-check) the Washington Post “Shutdown” feed for updates.  Happy to see that the bill will most likely pass and get signed by President Obama Wednesday night.
  • Wed evening: Bill passed! Woohoo!
  • Thurs morning: Wake-up with a sore throat.  The Gypsy Runner came down with a cold on Monday, and despite our best efforts, it looks like I came down with it too.  Fortunately, his cold has progressed rather rapidly and doesn’t seem very severe, so I hope my body responds the same way.

I started to feel like that old adage — “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”  But let’s not focus on the negative.  On Tuesday night, I was listening to a Runner Academy podcast as I was folding laundry.  The interviewee was Matt Elliott, a full-time teacher who stunned everyone by coming in 4th in the 1500 m final at this year’s National Championships.  Late in the interview, he said something that really struck a chord: “Training is a blessing.”  It got me thinking about how, even if MCM got cancelled, nothing can take away the last 16.5 weeks that I’ve dedicated to marathon training.  I’ve learned so much about myself and how much I can achieve if I just go for it.  Along the way, I’ve gone on fun runs with friends, experienced great races, explored new running paths, and even set a 10K PR.  I’ve been fortunate to make it to taper without significant injuries.  So, as bummed as I would have been if MCM got cancelled, there’s a lot to be grateful for just in the training. It also got me thinking about how we often take the training for granted, focusing only on race day.  While races are great for motivation and goal setting, they are so small and fleeting compared to the work we put in day-in and day-out.  So if I’ve learned one thing from all of this, it’s to be grateful for the everyday training.  Bring on the taper crazies!

The last 16.5 weeks of my life in one spreadsheet.

The last 16.5 weeks of my life in one spreadsheet.


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in MCM, random, Training
16 comments on ““Training is a blessing.”
  1. Oh man, I totally got the “what’s the point” mentality. So much so I didn’t even do my run yesterday. I’m such a jerk. All’s well that ends well though and I’m so excited to meet you!

    Also, guzzle Emergen-C. That usually helps me if I feel a cold coming on.

  2. BT says:

    Training is a blessing. Agreed. When I’m feeling grumpy I always try to remind myself that being healthy enough to run (or walk) is a serious blessing to be enjoyed and that taking the time to do it means I’m living life well… Excited for you and your performance. I have a great feeling about this!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks BT! I agree – it’s a good habit to take time to be grateful just for being able to MOVE, especially when I think back to post-knee and post-ankle surgery days.

  3. Dominick S. says:

    Well, I definitely do not dislike training but there are runs I dislike. I had to face the disappointment of having a marathon cancelled and it was difficult but I was able to see the positives of my health. It’s the journey, not the destination.

    • Jen says:

      Yeah, I definitely thought about your NYCM experience last year when I was going through this crazy roller coaster of emotions. On the logistical side of things, I was grateful to the MCM organizers for being on top of the situation and giving us as much notice as possible.

      I think it’s impossible to love every single training run… it’s just not going to happen if you put in the time. I’m just happy that I didn’t have any really awful long runs this cycle.

  4. Dan says:

    I was wondering how you were handling the possibility of MCM shutdown — I would be losing my mind as well. But I went to their Facebook page this morning and saw the big “It’s ON” image, so I’m glad tens of thousands of dedicated runners aren’t going to collectively scream.

    While I do agree that the marathon is just the reward at the end of the process, I seriously don’t know how much / often / hard I would train if I didn’t constantly have a race 3-5 weeks away. Maybe that’s unenviable of me. I have allowed myself to see it as some sort of character flaw, or a reflection of shallowness. But hey, everyone needs their carrot, right? Some are much more disciplined and can run for decades purely to run.

    But I need that finish line. Even if it’s just for now.

    Good luck with the rest of your taper!

    • Jen says:

      I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment about races being a huge motivating force during training. I also have a hard time running just for fun without any races on the calendar. I think that’s what’s nice about marathon training — it brings a huge block of time into focus and you can track progress pretty easily just by looking at mileage and repeated workouts, etc. I guess this post was my attempt to step back from that race-centric mentality and to be grateful for the training just by itself. Note that if MCM had been canceled, I would’ve signed up for one of those November 3rd races in a heartbeat… so no, I wouldn’t have been satisfied with just the training by itself. Anyway, I guess my point (and I do have one!) is that instead of looking at training as the ugly stepbrother/sister of the race, it’s more like the Siamese twin of the race. Um, maybe that’s a bad analogy… but hopefully you understand what I mean?

  5. Cathryn says:

    I love this post…totally agree with what you said, although like Dan I also need the motivation of a race to get myself out the door. But I love what you said about how we put so much pressure on the actual race and forget the beauty of the process. That will stay with me.

  6. Amy says:

    Definitely haven’t fully embraced the training thing yet (as evidenced by the fact that I’ve probably run maybe 50 miles since Sept. 17th), but I think viewing all the work put in as a blessing is ideal since it is how we spend most of our time! BUT, very glad that training was a blessing AND a means to an actual (non-protest version) race. One more week! I’ve always found that traveling to a race helps minimize the crazies since you have so much other stuff going on.

    • Jen says:

      Yes, I’m also relieved not to be running a protest version of the race, as fun as that would’ve been. It’s a different experience this time, having to fly to get to a marathon — I’m not looking forward to the time difference! At least we get there a few days in advance so we have time to adjust.

  7. Angela says:

    WORD. I’ve become extremely aware of that fact this year.

    So glad the race is on!! Your training has been solid — I think you’ll have a great day!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Angela!

      Yeah, I definitely thought of you and some others I know struggling with or coming back from injury when I wrote this. It really puts things in perspective – like, at least I didn’t have to wonder whether I *could* run on a daily basis, you know?

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4/28/19: London Marathon

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