Sometimes as runners we have to do the most incredibly difficult and unpleasant things. Take last weekend for example. My training plan told me I had 18 miles to run and due to family commitments which started at about 9:45 am I knew I had to be done as close to 9 as possible. This saw me getting out of bed at 6 am and out pounding the streets by 6:20. The night before when I had been moaning about having to get up at WTF o’clock to run 18 miles because… my darling wife suggested that I not bother. “You could have a lie in, one missed run won’t hurt.” I did not have the words to explain how wrong this was, I mean I have a marathon in 6 weeks and a target time and a plan to stick the fuck to and, and, and. So as I made my way through the dark country lanes while most of the world lay asleep I pondered how to explain why I was doing this.
You see it’s not just the early mornings, sometimes I have a shit run and I will get back and the other half will ask how it went. Bloody awful, my legs felt like lead and I couldn’t breathe on top of that I was about a minute and a half off pace. I have been known to get out of a sick bed and go for my scheduled LSR, admittedly that is kind of stupid but the mentality of just getting it done is there. Almost as if I have no choice. Of course when my beloved sees that I have had a rubbish run she will always ask why I bother. It’s even worse if I have been training for a race only to find that when it comes down to it everything goes tits up. Not only have I spent all that time training and putting myself through moments of private torment but I have not even gotten out of it what I wanted. In those cases she will sometimes list the things I have missed out on, and even worse made her miss out on because of my training. Then she will point out that it was a waste of time. Maybe in not quite as blunt a fashion but the implication is there.
I pondered as I plodded and I plodded as I pondered and wondered as I wandered at an elevated pace, what other experience did my wife and I share that would give her an insight into this mad head space? Then it struck me. We have a daughter and to be frank it has not always been an easy ride. There have been moments of hardship and torment. Some early mornings dropping her off at various school activities and some moments of real heartache like the time her first pet cat got run over on the day she arrived back from a school journey. That howl of misery would have made a stone weep. The point is that we had a long term goal, to raise a child to adulthood safely so she could make her own way in the world. This month she got herself her first real job and passed her driving test so I would have to say mission accomplished.
There, I had it once again the long slow run had delivered the goods, my mental meanderings had brought me to a good easily understandable analogy. Training for a marathon is like bringing up a child. You have a long term goal and you know that there are going to be some really hard moments. That sometimes things are not going to work out in the way that you want them too and some of the journey is well and truly out of your hands but, that does not stop you continuing. It would never occur to most parents when they are getting up at stupid o’clock to check on a sick child to just shab it off or not bother. In the same way it never occurs to me to not go out for a scheduled run, this is just what I need to do to nurture what little ability I have and help it grow into my target time.
Triumphantly I returned at about 9:15, just enough time to get freshened up and out the
door to make this appointment. There on the tip of my tongue was a perfect soliloquy ready to deliver and make my long suffering wife understand the necessity of the sacrifices I make in pursuit of running goals. It was going to be perfect, never again would my training be questioned or begrudged. Except I was greeted with a bit of a resentful “I was worried, hurry up and get ready”. That kind of took the wind out of my sails, why was she not inspired by my feat and want to know the amazing insight I had been given during that mornings hardship? She wasn’t really interested and I dutifully started to get myself together. I may have discovered that training for a marathon is like raising a child in that both have an ultimate reward which makes the hardship worth while. Now all I have to do is work out the similarities between a marriage and running a marathon, it may help me to understand the wife a little more. Still I have a 20 mile run in a couple of weeks I’ll see if I can work it out then.