The Five Stages of Runner’s Remorse

I love to run…directly into Lake Tahoe-medal and all.

You’ve run one half marathon, you can run them all.  Or at least you know what you are up against and reasonably capable of training for another.  Things change, however, when you start contemplating the next big challenge.   Below is a transcript of the actual internal dialogue surrounding my decision to run a 50K which occurred in November.

Me:  I really want to run a 50K.

Other Me:  I bet you can totally do it.  Can run 15 miles without dying, what’s 15 or so more?  Plus a 50K is so much more cool than one of those stinky marathons.

Me:  Right?  I can totally do this.

Other Me:  You can eat almond butter and Nutella sandwiches.

Me:  I so love almond butter and Nutella sandwiches but do you know what’s better?

Other Me:  What?

Me:  That Valencia peanut butter from Trader Joe’s.  It really brings out the flavor of the Nu-

Third Me (let’s call her Jennifer Bitchwell, shall we?):  I’m sorry-weren’t the two of you talking about training for a 50K?  Enough of the food talk.  I can only keep the inner fat chick at bay for so long around that damned peanut butter.  Tell me more about the 50K.

Me:  Oh yeah.  So anyway, I think my best strategy is to sign up for the summer Marathon program-

Other Me and Jennifer Bitchwell together:  WHAT?!

Me:  No, no.  Hear me out.  Yes, I HATE the whole 26.2 mile thing for some strange reason that we may never truly understand nor can we explain to others in any sort of reasonable fashion since marathon runner’s are totally bad ass and my hero (and let’s face it, I will ultimately actually run 26.2 miles, love it and totally deny that I ever hated it because that is just what I do) but the idea is pretty much the same plus I will actually have super cool people who don’t think we, er I am insane to do those pesky long runs with.  I mean twenty miles alone on the ditch trail?  Jesus.

Other Me:  Well, when you put it that way…

Jennifer Bitchwell:  You know, the inner fat chick is going to love this.  All that peanut butter….

As you can see, I am very complex and probably should get some counseling to deal with Jennifer.  She is such a bitch.  (Being a runner, particularly of the slow and fat variety, comes with baggage, people.  Love me in spite of it.)

I’ve had several months to come to embrace the idea of the 50K.  The girls I had been running with were all planning on doing the summer marathon session so I didn’t immediately have to cop to the whole “I actually really want to run a 50K” right off the bat.  The excitement has slowly built and even pushed me through periods of completely unmotivated worthlessness.  I had no second thought or qualms about signing up and even as I stared down a 20 week training program where the miles for some weeks looked like something I should really do over the course of a month, I was totally fine with it.  Heck, I felt like issuing a formal press release (I even wrote it:  Local fat chick, Liz, will be training for a 50K even though she is in a marathon training program and she is so going to kick ass!).  I felt great!

Until the next morning.

Call it buyer’s remorse.

Call it self doubt.

Call it I was out of peanut butter and thought I would never have peanut butter again.

What actually happened is that I was out on a run and ran into a co-worker.  We were chatting about running and when she asked what I was training for I just completely stalled out.  I couldn’t say the M word out loud.  I certainly couldn’t say 50K because that was just terrifying.

I did eventually choke out the word “marathon” but spent the next 48 hours going through what could easily have been the five stages of grieving, or in my case the Five Stages of Runner’s Remorse.

Stage 1 – Denial:  “I so did not just sign up for the marathon program.”  Yes, yes I did.  The schedule is hanging on the wall.

Stage 2 – Anger:  “I am such an idiot!  What made me think I could do this?”  I suspect I may revisit this stage about 18 miles in to my first 20 mile run.

Stage 3 – Bargaining:  “If I get to my first twenty mile run and its awful, I can stop.”  Yeah, I can stop at any time.  Famous last words of any addict.  Where is the peanut butter again?

Stage 4 – Depression:  “People are going to think I am such a loser if I fail at this.”  Because this was really the problem all along.  I believe I can do it but there is the freak people pleasing part of me that just can’t cope with failure.  Good news:  I am so over this thanks to the fantastic and amazing people I run with that provide nothing but good humor, great support and fantastic stories of motivation.

Stage 5 – Acceptance:  “This is going to be freaking EPIC!”

And that, my friends, is where I am today.  Let’s hit the trail, shall we?

Don’t get too excited. I was pretty excited to be at the 50 mile marker, but I was 5.5 miles into a 10 mile run. But someday….SOMEDAY I will do a 50 miler. Right after 50K’s become the new half…

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