Dealing with doubt

It seems like every other week I flip between feeling ready for the marathon and feeling like I won’t make it to the finish line. After finishing my 20 mile training run last week feeling so strong and confident, I was so sure that I had a great race coming my way. After today’s failed long run, I am full of doubt.

This morning I set out to do a 16 mile run. I thought that this run was going to feel so easy. Usually I do my long runs the day after a medium length run, to practice running on tired legs. This week, to accommodate a race on Sunday, I planned to do my long run on Saturday, the day after a rest day. Plus I only had to go 16 miles instead of 20. So easy, I thought.

I knew about a mile into the run that it was NOT going to be easy. Three miles in, I was ready to quit. Every other step I thought about just turning around and heading home. At about five miles I decided that I had it in me to finish the run, but I might need to slow down a bit. I was not running very fast at all, just my normal long run pace. I told myself that this was a chance to work on my mental toughness, to prove I had what it will take to make it 26.2 miles.

I pushed myself all the way to 9 miles which is when my IT band lit up with pain. I was over a mile from my car. I managed to keep running in spite of the pain, but each step was agony. When I got to my car, I decided to just call it quits after only 10.3 miles.

I’m pretty disappointed. Does this mean I don’t have what it takes to finish a marathon? I think stopping when I did was probably a wise decision. Had I kept going, I could have ended up in injury territory with my IT band. With three races in the next five weeks I need to stay healthy. Even though I feel like I made the right decision, I am now filled with doubt for my upcoming races.

Tomorrow I’ll have the chance to regain a bit of confidence. I am running the Growler Gallop 5k and Mr. Shoe is running the 10 mile. I’ve been reminding myself of my week 4 training. I only managed 4 miles of my 10 mile long run and the next day was a race. Even though my long run absolutely sucked, I ended up pulling together a much better race than anticipated. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow plays out in a similar manner.

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9 thoughts on “Dealing with doubt

  1. I felt the same confidence after my 20 mile training run a couple of weeks before the San Francisco Marathon, only to find myself unable to even run a mile (one mile!) without being crippled by a side stitch when I set out for a suuuuper slow two mile shakeout run the day before the race. I thought for sure I couldn't do it. But the next day, I ran the whole 26.2 without a side stitch or any other major issues! I learned a big lesson in trusting in my training. You've got this! Really!

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  2. Thanks so much for the reassurance! I have a 2 mile shakeout run planned for the day before the marathon as well. I would probably freak out if I set out to do that run and made it less than a mile!

    I think I am just nervous about making the jump from 20 miles to 26 miles. When I ran my first half marathon I trained up to 12 miles, so I felt really confident that I could add on one extra mile on race day. This 6 extra mile thing is just getting in my head.

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  3. I DID freak out! I was with my sister and almost broke down crying. But everything ended up being fine!

    I know it's a cliche, but looking at the last 6.2 miles as “it's only a 10k” really helped me. It was definitely the hardest part of the race – I really felt it that I had never gone beyond 20 miles before, and in my particular race, it got really sunny and hot after about mile 18 – but I never doubted that I could do it! By then you've come so far that you don't want to quit. Also, I realized…what would happen if I stopped now? I would still have to make it back to the finish somehow. Might as well just run.

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  4. We all have a bad workout sometimes, even after a confidence boosting great workout the week before. Don't let one bad run get you down. You are doing incredible and I'm seriously in awe at how amazing you're doing. Can't wait to read all about the amazing, incredible, perfect race you'll run for your marathon. Believe it, you are going to crush it!

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  5. Bad workouts happen. Doubting yourself happens, but like they say, “Trust your training.” You're doing an awesome job, even if this week doesn't feel like it. You've got this. I know you're going to do well in your marathon; you just have to after all the training you've done 😉

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  6. There must be something about 16 mile runs. I thought the 2nd one I did would be easy since I had done 20, but it wasn't. It just sucked. I think having bad long runs is part of training. I'd be more worried if you never had a less-than-stellar long run.

    Doubt is perfectly normal. I read a lot of running blogs and every single one of us seems to be going through that right now. I find that taking my mind completely off of running for a while really helps. Read a book, go to a cool event, hang out with friends/family, etc. Not only does it calm my nerves for a while and make me feel refreshed going into my next run, but it helps me put things in perspective. Running is something I do, it's not who I am. If I mess up on race day, it will suck, but life will go on and there's always next time! 🙂

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