If you’re anything like me, the beginning of March means you are now well into your spring marathon training cycle. If you’re anything like me, you’re also beginning to experience those nagging feelings that start to intensify when you’re in the middle of a marathon training cycle.
For once, I’m not referring to nagging feelings of injury; all is smooth sailing on the injury front. [*knocks vigorously on wood*] What’s really starting to eat at me right now is Guilt, yes, with a capital G. Early in the training cycle, it was a faint whisper, but with each passing week the nagging internal monologue grows louder:
Your running is selfish!
Your running is annoying to everyone, especially your family!
You’d be a better mom/wife/employee/friend if you weren’t taking so much time to RUN.
As runners, we are faced with scheduling conflicts and compromise. Sometimes running is inconvenient, and it doesn’t always just inconvenience us. Running can be a huge pain in the butt for everyone who relies on us too.
For me, the guilt becomes overwhelming about halfway through a training cycle. While off-season runs are shorter and less frequent, and therefore more easily re-scheduled, marathon training runs require focus and dedication to squeeze them all in. This means I have less wiggle room in my schedule to work around a kid’s temper tantrum, my husband’s desire to sleep in on a Sunday morning, or spontaneity in general.
A common conversation with my husband sounds a little bit like this:
Mr. Pumpkin: Do we have anything going on this weekend? I’d like to do A, B, and C.
Me: Oh, sure, that would be fine. We don’t have much going on. I just have to run 5 miles on Friday night, Oh, and I have 10 miles to run Sunday. Oh, and I’m meeting so and so for a run on Saturday morning. Can you fit A, B, and C into Sunday evening sometime?
Mr. Pumpkin: Sigh…
And cue Guilt.
In all fairness to my dear husband, he is actually incredibly accommodating. He supports my running and almost always has a delicious meal ready for me when I return home from a long run. Nothing is better following a Saturday morning 20-miler than a stack of pancakes and bacon, especially when prepared by somebody else! My husband doesn’t complain much about wrangling our two young children for hours at a time when I’m gone running and I do my best to run during off-peak hours so it doesn’t suck up our entire weekend.
In spite of that, however, by six weeks into a training plan, I start to even annoy myself with the broken record statement of “But first … my run.” I think my husband’s accommodating nature actually makes me feel MORE guilt sometimes, like I feel he needs to punish me by acting more annoyed. Then again, I don’t think I’d like that much either.
I suppose when you’re a wife/mom/employee/friend/runner, you’re used to having to balance multiple roles in life, and guilt is inevitable whenever the delicate balance of all.the.things is disrupted. Marathon training stops for no one, which means it’s not the most conducive thing to pleasing everyone who matters to you. There is something to be said for being dedicated enough to attempt to make it all work, but I also have to have some self-compassion that there will be times when I drop a ball (or four), and that’s just a function of being human. I’d likely drop balls even if I wasn’t training for a marathon, because, well, I’m a human!
So how do I manage all of this internal discord? On my negative days, I begin to resent my training. I don’t let myself stay in that mental place very long, though. These feelings are my cues that I’m probably tired and it’s normal to get down on myself when I look at my calendar and fitting it all in seems impossible. I have to remind myself that I choose this. I choose to run amongst the chaos of the rest of my life. I have to remind myself that this is temporary, and that this training cycle has an end date.
I know that this is a wonderful problem to have; I have a lot of people who want my time and I’m healthy and strong enough to train for a marathon. Sometimes it feels like a tough decision to have to compromise and make sacrifices when it ALL feels important. But, just like we do when we run a race, we have to take the attitude in life that we just need to show up and do our best. Oh, yeah, and when that training plan finally IS done: make your husband and children some damn pancakes.
Do you ever feel guilt about getting in your training?