Pittsburgh Marathon Training: Good Idea at the Time

The e-mail I sent my wife last fall taunts me.  It read something like, “just registered for the Pittsburgh Marathon! Whoo hoo! Great to have something to train for, and get back in shape…”  Yeeaaahhh, seemed like a good idea at the time.  Anyone else have that feeling?  Less than one month away from the start of the Pittsburgh Marathon, and I’m questioning my sanity.  Is it “taper madness?”  Are others out there struggling with this too?

The long runs in my marathon training plan have come on Saturday mornings, and, as I’m sure many of you have too, I’ve run in snow, rain, wind, and cold.  Here’s some tidbits from my more “memorable” runs…

March 3rd: This wannabe “Runner of Steel” felt like a “Runner of Paper” blown around by 60+ mph wind gusts during a 14 mile training run.  The last 7 miles of the run were into a steady, hard, driving wind straight in my face.  Why didn’t I plan that “out & back” run so the wind would be at my back when I finished?  I cursed the stoopid wind as if it were an evil entity working against me to thwart my long run attempt.

March 11th: “It’s raining!  I’m running!” Those words reverberated in a high-pitched voice, along with a maniacal laugh in my head over and over and over again as I ran 16 miles in circling 1.25 mile loops around Give Kids The World Village in Florida.  Over, and over, and over.  Don’t even ask me how many loops it was, I lost count very early on.  “It’s raining! I’m running! Raining! Running!” again, and again, and again…

March 24th: Eighteen miles on tap today?  OK… whatever… pour another cup of coffee, I’m going to be out there a while.  I was resigned to the training now, my body on autopilot – run 2, 3, 4, hours at a pop? Sure, great… Is it raining?  Even better…

April 7th: Twenty miles, solo, training for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The longest runs are now behind me.  Well, except for that one, last 26.20 mile jaunt around Pittsburgh.  My legs throb… the bottom of my feet resemble hamburger… I’m exhausted, drained and dead.  whoo hoo… It’s taper time, and I’m limping my way to the starting line.

This time, marathon training seems rougher than the first go-around in 2007 & 2008.  In particular, it’s harder to recover from the really long runs.  After running 18-20 miles on a Saturday, my legs feel leaden come Monday.  I’ve needed more rest days, and I haven’t been able to log as many miles overall as before.  Possibly because I’m older…  possibly because I’m busier…  possibly because I broke my leg last year.  Who knows?  The net result is I feel less prepared going into my taper/recovery weeks.  Maybe I have a case of “taper madness” setting in, but I’m starting to worry.

I have yet to finish one of those really long training runs feeling like I have “something left in the tank.”  I didn’t finish my 20 miler thinking, “yeah, I could do 6.2 more miles.”  I didn’t want to go 6.2 more feet.  I looked at the elevation chart for the Pittsburgh Marathon, and see that long hill from miles 12-14 and think, “I haven’t done any hill training! I’m not prepared!”

Hopefully I’ll feel different after a couple of recovery weeks.  I’m certainly committed to the race, and I’ll be there on May 6th.  We’ll just have to wait and see how many butterflies are in my belly when the gun goes off.  How about you?  How has your training for the Pittsburgh Marathon gone?  Are you feeling prepared and ready to toe the line?  Leave a comment below, and continue the conversation.

Finally, in addition to my attempt to earn the title “Runner of Steel,” I’m also running to raise money for Give Kids The World, a nonprofit resort where children with life-threatening illnesses stay when they have a wish to visit Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, or anywhere in Central Florida.  I’m asking readers to donate $26.20 ($1/mile of the marathon) to my GKTW Pittsburgh Marathon Challenge (but any amount donated is accepted and appreciated).  Click here for the final installment of my training efforts for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  For more running adventures, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.