by T3 Running - Michael Barnes on 12/09/14
Many runners in the Memphis area ran the St. Jude marathon or half marathon last Saturday (12/6). I've spoken to many friends who participated in both - some happy, some not. Dealing with success is easy; however, dealing with the disappointment of an outcome that wasn't expected isn't so easy. This post is for those whose expectations weren't met.
Do I have the answers? I probably don't. I struggled with my own disappointments in running for many years. It seemed that I had the shorter distances down. I'd set a goal for distances from the 5k to half marathon and always seemed to hit those target times. The marathon, for me and many others, is a completely different beast. Yes, a beast! The disappointment in not hitting a goal time for the marathon is especially difficult as it demands a great deal of training, time, planning, sacrifice, etc. The months leading up to the big event may have gone great, but the end result not so great. Like many, you ask, "Why?" I hydrated, I took in calories, I ran more than ever. I did tempo runs. I cut out junk food. That is the allure of the marathon. You think you've figured it out, but you find out late in the game that you didn't. So many factors (i.e. weather, fueling, mental toughness, taper, over training, etc.) can be the difference in success and disappointment on race day. For 12 to 16 weeks prior to the event, everything was great, only to be spoiled by a sniper that seems to have shot you in the calf muscle at mile 21. Moments later, another sniper targets the other leg, leaving you to hobble in. The dreaded walk of shame, the marathon shuffle, the meltdown. I've been there and done that more times than I can count. I was confused. I was mad. I was disappointed. I, too, have said, "Never again! I paid to do this! Why do I torment myself! I'm retiring from the marathon!"
A few weeks go by and I usually forget the disappointment and make plans for a "comeback." I'm too stubborn to have allowed the marathon to beat me. Perhaps one of the best runners in U.S. history, Frank Shorter, once said, "You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming." It is painful and difficult to deal with. Did you barely miss getting your Boston qualifying time? Did you just miss breaking that elusive four hour barrier or three hour barrier? I have, but I came back, more determined than ever to "beat" the marathon. Eventually, you will get it right and it will be better than you've imagined.
But why am I disappointed with my time? Like I've said, I had countless pity parties following the running of the St. Jude marathon. Far too many times, I've left Autozone Park, by my standards, a failure, humiliated by missing my goal time by five or more minutes. We typically get disappointed when our expectations aren't met. Disappointment=Expectations/Reality. Are you being realistic in setting your goal time? Is your training catered to your weaknesses? If you don't keep a detailed running log, I encourage you to begin utilizing one. A running log allows you to go back and review what you did before your "disappointment." Have someone else review your running log. Sometimes an objective set of eyes can see things that you cannot. Don't be afraid to change things up if your current methods aren't working. There are a lot of races to be run. Train, transform, transcend...