Running Is Not a One Size Fits All Sport

On March 17 I set out to PR and BQ (personal record and Boston qualify respectively) at the LA Marathon. Along the way I also completed the LA/SF Challenge. I thought I had done everything right leading up to marathon day. I ran everyday (yes everyday with the exception of 2 days when my cold refused to let me walk, let alone run), I cross trained, I did my speed work and my long runs. Up until 3 weeks before the marathon, I never missed a workout on my training plan, I was ready. I was too ready.

And then I bonked on marathon day. Just before the half way point, my body was tired and destroyed. I had to walk several miles at the end, it took everything in me to run the last mile. I had run a marathon over 30 minutes longer than my last one. So what happened?!?

I over trained.

What? Had someone told me that this was possible I would have laughed at them. I had perpetually been undertrained for every race I ran in 2011. If that had taught me anything it was to train harder. Apparently I learned that lesson too well. Three weeks before LA, my legs were tired and hurting. I had to skip my speed workouts. I barely told anyone, I knew this was a bad sign. But I thought, isn’t that what tapering is for? I thought I’d be ok come race day. But I had given my body no recovery time, it was constantly in go mode. The mileage I ran was long, but it wasn’t as long as my friends (fellow SFM ambassador Chris rocked crazy miles and earned an awesome new PR at LAM – congrats!). But running is not a one size fits all sport. Training that works for one runner may not work for another one. Too many miles for me might not be enough for you. I didn’t consider what my body could take, what my schedule and crazy life as a grad student and community college instructor meant for my running. I was naive and I did not listen to my body.

After LA, I have been sad, mad, and just plain annoyed. I haven’t run… not one mile. I met with my running club’s coach and I asked him if he wanted me to give him the play-by-play of the marathon. His response? “No, I saw the splits, I know what happened.” And then he asked me when, before the race, my legs became tired because he knew. And then we talked about my training and my potential and my goals.

I have a new training plan to look forward to now. I have learned a hard (and apparently common) lesson. And I learned it the hard way (I’m stubborn, I learn everything the hard way). But I’m excited to learn to train smart and what’s best for me.

Have you ever overtrained? Have you have ever bonked at a race? What did you do next?

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