Home Fitness Stumbling in the Dark – End of Week 3- Marathon Training

Stumbling in the Dark – End of Week 3- Marathon Training

by Tanya Agarwal
Marathon Training

Am here to inform you that while I executed two fast runs, two easy runs, and one long easy run of 210 minutes AND accumulated mileage of 92 kms over 7 days, I feel like am stumbling in the dark!

Week 3 of training is now finally behind me. It was the third week of another heavy mileage week. My energy was low on both the fast runs and the weekend run of 210 minutes came with an unfair share of pain in my underfoot!  There was major discomfort in all my three hard run-workouts. My appetite hit rock bottom and my workload hit the sky! Always grateful for the latter, but it could have waited for just one more week!!

I’ll take you through some of my real struggles this week. It took daily planning, last-minute tweaks, change of plans, lots of physical energy, and an immense amount of commitment to keep my training going this whole week.

  • My son Aadit’s bday celebration happened the same day I had my 210-minute run. There was no option for changing the dates. The long run was on Sunday and since most of his friends could make it for the birthday party on Sunday only, we went ahead with the celebrations. After I finished my run, I had no time to recover. I rushed back home, took a shower, ate a sweet potato, and was back on my feet to meet and greet my son’s friends and their moms.
  • Planning my 210-minute run was not easy. I had to finish the run by 10 AM in every way since the birthday guests were to arrive at 11.30 AM. The backward math required me to start running maximum by 6.30 AM. The cold and foggy Gurgaon at 6 in the morning is not a safe place for women. So I ran 60 minutes on the treadmill first and completed the rest 150 minutes on the road. This time my brain and body, both were exhausted. I kept asking myself why the family commitments and my peak training week had to fall on the same week!
  • The NGO I volunteer at had its first event of the year, one day before my long run. That week I made trips to check the preparations and knew that I wouldn’t get much rest even before the long run. The students, teachers, and volunteers, had all worked hard for our favorite event of the year – Sports Day. The spirit of sports and the boundless enthusiasm of the kids – I wasn’t going to sit through this event!
  • I also had guests staying over at home. Thankfully they were happy with whatever little time we spent together. But I still laugh remembering my uncle’s face when he saw me leave for a run at 1 PM.

While life was packed with action on the sides, the resurfacing pains made me fearful of injury. On sending in a detailed report to my coach, Alfie, he patiently reminded me that the discomforts, the fatigue – all are part of the deal and that in a marathon plan not only some days but even weeks are crappy. The training sometimes breaks you before it builds you!

I liked what he wrote. I liked reading that.

I’ve been working hard on tapping the dormant strength inside me and I do not doubt that it exists in abundance…..the strength that I need to tap into when the real race in a marathon begins at km 30! The marathon training is a lot about mental toughness and discipline…. which I have, but a strong race demands the physical strength that I need to build. This was my learning from the last 10 kms of my full marathon race back in 2023. This learning has been priceless towards my preparation for my third full marathon. It is this ‘building process’ that pushed me to squat 40 kgs to power my legs and bench press 35 kgs (I weigh 46 kgs and I know how much the numbers matter) to have a strong upper body keeping my back strong for hours on the road.

I used to be the girl who lifted no more than 15 kgs.

Today, I am delighted to write that weight training has been a regular part of my life for the last 8 months and while I am an absolute beginner, a baby in the field of weight training, the last 8 months have given me the confidence to know that my best running days are ahead of me. Am no more going to rely on just run-training and my mental toughness. Building a strong neuromuscular system inside, and waking up the infinite well of my dormant strength is what will keep me running strong for years.  

But for now, as I build my house – my body, brick by brick, learn to run effortlessly… ticking one week after another of faster and longer distances, I stumble in the dark as I face my aches and pains. Is all a part of the deal? How much breaking does it take before it builds? Being fearless is impossible, but can I learn to fear less?

My close friends always tell me that while they love how I pour my passion into the things I do, they worry that am too attached to my goals. Of course, a 100 percent attachment to the goals can be a recipe for heartbreak and the discipline to stick to it can be overwhelming. But don’t we still chose to do our best? The marathon training does exhaust me. But it never leaves me feeling hollow. It requires meticulous planning of day-to-day life, but it does not feel like a fight. The crappy days, the good days of training, all make my marathon training extremely interesting!

The famous quote – The problem is that we think we have time is brilliant. I don’t think I have too much time, but if I do have the opportunity to wake up day after day, then I want to show up 100 percent. Giving only 80 percent of my effort because that feels easier on my daily schedule, I may reap only 80 percent or even less from my training. Would I like to look back and think that I could have tried a little more, a little harder, and a little longer?

As I grow old, and observe people in their life journeys, I realize that there are no failures. In fact, some of us ‘quit’ a little too early or perhaps a little too fast.

While Alfie and I both agree at the end of this 92km week that I am indeed stumbling in the dark for now, he said that I need to celebrate accomplishing 265 kms in 3 weeks and that we have finally reached a week of easy runs and recovery.

Looking at Week 4 and holding on to hope.

Hasta Pronto

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