A couple years ago, when I was working on a series of stories and multimedia features previewing the Five Points of Life
Marathon in Gainesville as a reporter for The Gainesville Sun, I wrote a story about what Runner’s World calls “the monster month,” when marathon training gets into the longest of the long runs, the toughest speedwork and the highest chance of burnout.
I’m coming into the monster month leading up to the Marine Corps Marathon just about now, but I’m thinking of things a bit differently this training cycle.
Rather than looking at the last 33 days before the marathon as a monstrous jumble of physical exertion to be gotten through, I’m going to see it as a chance to really take care of my body, fueling it with fruits and veggies and whole grains, strengthening it with my lineup of core and hip exercises, repairing it with ice baths and stretching and generally preparing it to cross the finish line of a 26.2-mile race — an accomplishment I’m absolutely not taking for granted.
I’m also going to focus on appreciating each remaining long run for the awesome journey that it is, whether it’s a journey filled with pain and humiliation or warm fuzzies and ego boosts. Sure, I wouldn’t be running 20 miles next weekend if not for the impending 26.2, but I don’t want to see it merely as a means to an end.
I’m preparing myself to have a similar attitude about my finishing time. Since I’ve completed one marathon and run several halves, it’s hard not to have a fairly rigid goal time in mind. But I’m starting to realize that being too rigid about it might take away from the joy I ought to feel about just being able to run 26.2 miles. I’m not saying I won’t be disappointed with a time that’s way slower than what I have in mind. I’m just saying, I want to maintain my sense of awe and respect for this distance.
With all that in mind, I’m going to view the next four weeks as the home stretch — a sort of mini pre-marathon running spa — rather than the monster month.
First up: Truly savoring this morning’s run through my parents’ subdivision in New Port Richey, Fla., where I’m staying through Tuesday. I’m heading out early, before the state turns into a giant, sunny sauna, and before the demands of the day start weighing on me. How easy it is to forget that running is my reward! I hope I can keep that in mind both this morning and on race day.