Monday, February 27, 2012

Burned to a crisp

I was in Scottsdale, Arizona this past weekend for the NAAAP Leadership Academy.  The weather was gorgeous and I had forgotten how beautiful the desert can be, especially at sunset.
I got a 10-mile run in yesterday morning and enjoyed wearing shorts outside for only the second time in the last four or five months.  I even started getting some tan lines on my knees from my cho-pat straps.  It's a great look, I tell you.  When knee-strap tan lines start showing up on the fashion runways in Milan, remember that you heard it here first.

My training has hit a bit of a rough stretch over the past few weeks due to various injuries.  I have not been able to train as consistently as I'd like - I've had to skip my weekend long run twice in the past four weeks, and my midweek runs have been hit or miss.  Thankfully my conditioning still seems to be holding up reasonably well, and thanks to the miracles of physical therapy my knee wonkiness appears to have subsided.  However, I have lost a lot of mental momentum.
I am hoping to be able to break 5 hours for the marathon, although 5:15 is probably more realistic and I know I shouldn't even be thinking about a time goal for a first marathon.  Yesterday's 10-miler started at about 8:30 AM and took about two hours, plus time to cool down, stretch, etc.  Around 1:30 PM as I was heading to the airport, I realized that if I had been running a full marathon instead of just 10 miles, I would still be out running at that point.

Quite frankly, it scared me.  The 10-miler had not been my best, but it wasn't the worst I've ever had either.  The mental thought of having to do more than 2.5 times that distance in a single stretch all of a sudden become very tough for me to swallow.  Some doubts have started hitting and for the first time ever, I've started to regret signing up for the marathon.
I went to the CARA Super Clinic last summer and had the privilege of seeing Hal Higdon speak in person there.  I remember him telling us that a lot of people reach, say, half-marathon distance in their training and get overwhelmed by the thought of doubling that distance.  His advice was to not think about it that way because at that point in our training, we just weren't ready - but that later, with more training, we would become ready. 

It's great advice and I'm trying to take it.  But mentally I have lost several steps.  It's weird that a few weeks of cutting back have made me feel so mentally tired.  Shouldn't some time off make you feel refreshed?  I'm honestly not sure where to go from here.  Should I try to grind it out or do I take more time off?

I'm feeling lethargic in areas other than running, too.  I've been involved with NAAAP for almost 10 years and with MAASU for almost 5 years.  Working with the Asian-American community is a large part of how I define myself.  However, as nice as it was to see everyone at the NAAAP Leadership Academy this past weekend, admittedly my heart was not into the weekend's events.  Similarly, my motivation has not been high in dealing with everything that has been going on with MAASU, especially the dozens of emails flooding my inbox.  The time commitments are starting to feel burdensome.  It may soon be time to realign my extracurriculars.

Food for future thought - I have some friends that either have, or are working on, pilot's licenses.  I've listened to their stories with great admiration and envy.  It's always been a dream of mine to get a pilot's license.  If it weren't for the cost, I would do it in a heartbeat - but aviation school is very, very expensive.  I can't think of many other hobbies that would be more pricey than being a pilot.  But a woman can still dream, right?  Maybe someday.

This might be the closest I'll ever get to being a pilot 
(taking an air tour of the Na Pali Coast in 2006)
It's funny how burnout and mental fatigue can really ignite the passion for things that are seemingly out of reach.  In the meantime, suggestions and advice on recharging and eliminating burnout are always welcome.

For now, I'll be on the lookout for one of these:


  1. Oh gosh! I totally need a recharge right now too so I am going to subscribe to comments in case anyone has some good advice.

    My husband wants to get his pilot license so I bought him a groupon for one flight. Watch on groupon - everyone once in awhile there is a deal! That might quench your thirst.

    I am happy you got a warm run in, in shorts. And I took note of your fashion advice :) Don't think about doubling the distance. By the time you get to the marathon you will have done enough long runs to know you can do it. Seriously. I have done 18 and 20 milers that flew by because I was having so much fun (running with my best friend). You'll get there!

    1. You rock, Kim! Thank you so much for the wonderful advice and reassurance, I really appreciate it. Thanks also for the tip on the Groupon. Please do let me know how Steven enjoys his flight! And congratulations again on your awesome, awesome 5K from this past weekend!!!

  2. Emily....when I was...and even still now...I often said to myself wtf is wrong with me...this is stupid. Lol...but its only a few months of training...and 5 hours to CAN do.anything for 5 hours...and its extremely rewarding in the end... :).

    1. Julie, I have very much been questioning why I'm doing this and wondering what is wrong with me, too. And I haven't even gotten into the super long training runs, yet, LOL.

      Great advice on considering it from the glass half-full approach of "it's ONLY a few months of training and ONLY five hours." Definitely better than thinking "There goes my spring and summer!" and "That will be five or more hours I'll never get back again!" =D

  3. I was just about to give you that same exact advice as Hal Higdon! (I read it his website when I trained for my first full, and it really stuck with me.) Running is such a mental game. The truth is that you could probably already run 26.2. It might not be pretty, but you are physcially capable of doing it. You just have to get there mentally, which just takes time.*

    1. Thanks so much, Amy! It helps a LOT to think that we are probably already physically capable of running 26.2, but just have to train ourselves to get there mentally.

      To your point, I just read a blog last night by a woman whose longest training run before finishing a marathon was only 8 miles. 8 miles! It really does show how much it is about mentality, like you said!