This email sailed into our inbox a few weeks ago, and Megan, a mother runner with five kids under the age of 11, agreed to let us throw it out to the masses of wise and helpful mother runners in the next installment of WWAMRD: What Would Another Mother Runner Do?
Here's her situation:
I started running later in life, mid-30's. I was single at the time and got hooked. I then ran six marathons, (Pittsburgh 4x, New York, Boston) between 1996 and 2000. I had my first baby in 2001 and my last in 2009. No marathons during that time, but I did do steady, short distance running along with instructing exercise classes.
In 2011, when my baby was two years old, I decided to try a marathon again. I was excited and pumped, just like the old days. I wrote up my training schedule and fixed my special meals and got to bed early and drank a ton of water. I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon for the 5th time, and it went well. Because I was so much older than when I started running, I actually qualified for Boston. Of course I had to run that, because it would most likely be my last chance.
The following year I did the training all over again and ran Boston 2012. Boston was very hot last year, and I finished, but it wasn't pretty. I threw up my GU right in front of a group of spectators, and the whole crowd groaned. But that isn't the point.
The point is that I have signed up for the 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon, which is on May 5. But I am mentally FLAT. I can't get excited, I don't want to drink a bunch of water, I don't want to go to bed early and get up at 6 a.m. to run. I didn't even start training really until 10 weeks out. I'm not sure I can even get enough miles in in time to run the thing.
What is wrong with me? This was my passion, my love. I could talk about running forever, and read running blogs and surf running websites for hours on end. I WANT to love it again, be excited again. But even when I'm out on a beautiful day running, I'm thinking about being done. What should I do?
Should she hang in there and do 26.2 on May 5 or chill out and forgo another 'thon?
Dimity says: I would definitely just let Pittsburgh pass me by. Marathon training, not to mention going 26.2 miles on race day, can be so draining, both mentally and physically, that I really feel you've got to want it--or at least 70% of your body and mind has to cooperate. Instead of trying to drink from a dry marathon well, I'd train to go fast in a 5K; sign up for a triathlon; or just chill and not be on a training plan for a few months. I'm confident you have plenty of marathons left in you if you want them, but that's the key: You've got to want them.
Sarah says: I don't believe it, but Dimity and I are in agreement on this one! (If you listen to our latest podcast, you know we're often yin and yang when it comes to matters of racing and training.) Marathon training is a different beast than shorter races--as is the race itself. It's not something you can phone in. If I were Megan, I'd find a new running buddy--or reconnect with a former one--and enjoy running with her. If that gal is training for a race, maybe join her for some long runs, but have her set the pace, route, length, the whole shebang. Megan will stay somewhat race-ready...and maybe some of the friend's enthusiasm will remind Megan of the zest she used to feel.
What would you do if you were Megan? Plow on through or call it quits?
If you've got a WWAMRD dilemma for us, email us at runmother [at] gmail [dot] com, and we'll do our best to solve it for you.
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