People run marathons for a lot of different reasons – to prove something to themselves, work towards a goal, be a part of a community, or reduce stress and deal with emotions – but we all have one thing in common – we’re intense.
Right now, I’m 6 weeks away from running the Newport Marathon and my fiancé and I have an aggressive goal to qualify for Boston together, which means I have to run 26.2 miles in less than 3.5 hours and he has to do the same in under 3 hours. It also means that our Saturdays revolve around a 20-mile training run, and we’re constantly tired and hungry.
Marathon training often leaves me feeling burned out, which is extra challenging because running is such a mental sport. I am often alone with my thoughts, and they’re not always positive.
So when my relationship with running feels like it’s on the rocks, here are a few things I’ve tried to chill out, enjoy the moment, and get reenergized.
1. Skip a long run (or two)
There is a pressure to complete all the miles in a training plan that you’ve assigned to yourself, but a training plan you found on the internet entitled “intermediate” may not be customized to you. I’ve found that my body is capable of handling fewer miles that most runners of my speed and experience level, and overtraining results in injury. I grew up swimming competitively, and have an athlete mentality of always pushing. But what I’ve only more recently realized is the power of recovery, and that strength and speed are often built in rest. It is important for me to be able to grant myself permission to take an unexpected day off.
2. Do something actually fun
There. I said it. Running isn’t always fun.
The monotony and structure of training can be really exhausting. I try to add in something active that doesn’t feel grueling like training, such as hiking, surfing, snowboarding, or dancing. Not only are fun activities a good lift for my spirit, but they are also beneficial to training, as it builds strength and stability to move the body in different directions aren’t used in running, like opening your leg to the side in dance.
3. Treat yourself to a relaxing ritual
My go-to relaxing ritual is a bath with epsom salts, which are both relaxing and good for muscle recovery.
More recently, I’ve started winding down at night with CBD-infused waters. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. Many people have been claiming it has health benefits such as reducing inflammation and pain as well as promoting relaxation. There still hasn’t been enough research to draw conclusions about the health effects of CBD, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it in the meantime. CBD comes in lotions, oils, gummies, and many other forms, but I prefer it in sparkling water because it feels like I’m drinking a beer, except healthier. My favorite brands so far are Recess and Sprig, and it’s easy to order a pack online.
4. Spend time with people who don’t run
Runners are notorious for always talking about running, and I am not exempt from this offense. I find it really refreshing to spend time with friends and family and talk about anything else. It can be relaxing to take my focus off of myself and upcoming goals and anxieties and instead focus on others.
That’s all I have for now. Comment below with any tips that work for you!
Wish me luck, and I’ll report back after the race.