As a runner, it is sometimes difficult to admit defeat. Being beat at something sucks and so we will, at times, look for the path of least resistance. Once you realize that is what you've done, it can hurt even more than being beaten by another runner because you've beaten them to it.
These days I've been putting a lot of thought into the distances I have ran in the past and the distances I hope to run this year. I love the marathon. The mystique of that long run is just the kind of thing that most runners, no matter the experience level, think about doing some day. To conquer that distance is to do what few runners have done before. It is an honorable goal and a task that takes a good bit of dedication and also mental fortitude.
I've ran the marathon. It was fun. I didn't train much for it but ended up with a 3:30 time. I know I could do better. With a lot of training I could do a lot better. But looking back, I remember why I didn't train too much for the race. It wasn't on my race schedule and I flipped a coin with friends to see if I would do the 1/2 or full marathon. Not smart.
However, there was a reason I hadn't trained. I was having a lot of fun running the shorter races. 18 minutes of pain and suffering is something I love. I like to feel my lungs burn and my legs turn over a very rapid pace. The short distance is something that I like doing, and it might actually be something I'm better at. The problem is I just haven't put in enough consistent training to really know.
So, this year I plan on doing things a little differently. I've reworked my race schedule and have taken most of the longer distance races off and replaced them with 5k and 10k races. I have a feeling the type of training involved will not only fit into my busy schedule of work and getting married, but it will also be a lot of fun.
There are a couple of key races this year and I hope to run them faster than I did last year. My training is only just beginning but by spring I should be back where I need to be.
By coming to terms with the distances I enjoy running I think I have made a pretty big breakthrough in my training and racing. This year could be the first year I actually enjoy what I'm doing, stay healthy, and finish without wishing I had a few more months to prepare. I might still get beaten, but it will be by the other runners ahead of me and not my self.