inspiration, racing, running, training

After a marathon, a period of low motivation

The White Rock Dallas Marathon was pretty much a bust, but my training really paid off when, a week later, I finally met my longtime goal of breaking 20 minutes in the 5k (with a 19:32 at Jog’r Egg Nog’r). A couple weeks later I ran a 10k in 40:52 followed by a 1:29:04 at the 3M Half in Austin (a perfect race had it not been for the last two miles of brutal hills — what’s with the f-ing hills, Austin). And that was my last great running day.

This is how we count laps at the track, old school-like.
This is how we count laps at the track, old school-like.

After 3M, I got the flu. I spent a solid 20 hours in bed the first day. I missed an entire week of work. For four days, I didn’t run. Both of the aforementioned had been previously unfathomable.

When I resumed life, I was tired. For days, the sound of the alarm clock triggered a Tourette-syndrome-esque response from me — a series of F bombs and winey “I don’t want tos.” A couple weeks later I am still tired. I think it is part physical, part psychological. It doesn’t help that I have been slightly overwhelmed at the office, my husband has been out of his mind trying to open a restaurant, my kids may or may not be alright, and improvements to my running (which usually is the source of that elusive motivation) are temporarily nil, resulting in a sense of pointless wheel-spinning on my part.

I am still working with the coach and building up to train for the May 5 Vancouver Marathon. From shared and personal experiences, I know in my brain (keep telling yourself this, CHB) that this is a temporary phase undoubtedly preceding a period of hard-core ambition.

I am in a speed-training phase, so Mondays and Thursdays I do track intervals and speed play/fartlek-type workouts, respectively.

The past three Mondays I have failed to meet the prescribed times for the intervals, which impacts my psyche deeply. This morning, I felt ready to rock, only to be hit with stupid gale-force winds at the track.

Supposed to hit 2:42 800s. Didn't really come close. I blame this partly on the wind and partly on my slump.
Supposed to hit 2:42 800s. Didn’t really come close. I blame this partly on the wind and partly on my slump.

And even my base runs, done by time and heart rate, have been suffering. Getting up each morning has become increasingly hard and I find myself skipping warm ups and stretches because I stay in bed too long—not good. I am in a slump. But I am ready to climb out now. First, I need to get mentally right.


When I first started working at the Advocate magazine, I was assigned charge of two magazines for which I was supposed to write some 20-25 stories every month. I was also required to post four blog posts on our daily news blogs each weekday, plus a bunch of other sh*t. I was set up for failure, I kept thinking. I panicked and cried in the bathroom almost on a daily basis. Finally, when I had a talk with the publisher, I realized they really didn’t expect me to do all the work by the deadline . It was a reach-for-the-stars sort of scenario. They piled on the work to see what I could handle. And, you know, because they didn’t witness the crying and car tantrums, the management generally was impressed with the workload I was able to handle. I eventually got promoted to managing editor and recently to publisher and now I oversee new reporters and editors. The high expectations made me better and stronger than I thought I could be.

Running imitates career. Recently, I was supposed to complete six mile repeats at 5:40 each. I didn’t even come close. I was mad.

In hindsight, however, I realize I ran, that day, six sub-6-minute mile repeats. For the first time ever. So, I don’t have to be breaking records every day, but — kind of like it advises in this Running Times piece on negative and positive self talk — I have to mine the positive. Even the very worst runs and races, I get or learn something.

Another trick I plan to use to boost the adrenaline: racing. Whether the results are good or bad, racing gets me hyped.

I’m doing the Dallas Center For Architecture Form Follows Fitness 5k. The following week I’ll do the Trinity Levee 10k — this is a race I have really come to love/hate. The course has improved since the race’s inception, but it never fails to be exceedingly windy at this event. Then the Longview Half, March 16. Maybe another half marathon in April in Dallas.


One thought on “After a marathon, a period of low motivation

  1. I’ve been in a bit of a slump myself this past week or so, and I’m hearing the same thing from other running friends. I just keep telling myself it will pass. It always does. In the meantime, we keep running. You’re going to do great in your upcoming races!

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