[This is my column in the March 16 issue of The Commercial Review.]
I played baseball for nine years. I was a football player for six more.
But I didn’t make it to my junior year of high school in either. I had a few things I wanted to do academically as well as enter the workforce. The fact I had an all-state kid who started in front of me in both sports didn’t necessarily make me want to keep playing.
It’s a decision I regret to this day. We always wish we could go back and change the past, thinking “What if?”
My decisions to quit baseball and football, my two favorite sports that I still love to this day, were difficult to make.
Thankfully however, those decisions were not based on one thing that I fear has been plaguing me lately in training for May’s Indy Mini: burnout.
Each of the last few months I’ve set a goal I’ve wanted to achieve. None of them were met. In February, I set out to log the most running miles I’ve ever had — the 52.16 miles I ran in August.
In the year’s shortest month, surpassing my mileage from August was indeed a daunting task, but it was one I was confident I could reach.
I started February strong, running four out of the first seven days while logging 11.7 miles, which was slightly under the pace I needed in order to get to 52.17.
But I began to slip up. I didn’t run for almost a week before ripping off three decent outings in four days. After a two-day break, I did three out of four again, and closed the month running 17.18 miles in the last eight days, including setting a new personal-best time of 1 hour, 11 seconds, for a 10K (6.2 miles).
So in February, I ran 11 times for a total of 40.64 miles. Not quite a number I was pleased to see at the end of the month. But hey, 40.64 miles is much better than no miles.
After failing to reach any of my distance goals for the last four months or so, I didn’t set any such goal for this March. I just knew I had to keep increasing my distance — I averaged about 3.7 miles each run in the last two months.
I knew my mileage needed to increase, or else the 13.1-mile trek through Indianapolis in just 51 short days was going to be overwhelming.
I started March with a nice 4.25-mile treadmill run. Six days later, I ran again, but a measly 3.36 miles. The next day, 4 miles.
Not quite the mileage I was hoping to get to, especially considering because of my training program I should have been around the 6-mile distance about this week.
That four-mile run was exactly seven days ago. For the next three days, I struggled to find the motivation to run.
My legs were sore and I wasn’t able to run as far as I wanted. Mentally, the fact I couldn’t go the distances I hoped had taken its toll.
I felt as if I was going to succumb to an affliction that affects athletes of all ages throughout the country. I was concerned I was burned out.
In 2016, I ran 184.38 miles, perhaps much more than I had run over the first 29 years of my life.
Comparatively, I started 2017 on a much faster pace than 2016, which makes sense considering I didn’t actually start running until about this time a year ago. Before this week started, I had already logged 100.82 miles in slightly more than two months.
For someone who rarely ran prior to 2016, 300 miles is a hefty workload. It’s no wonder last weekend I thought I was burned out. I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. I was worried, despite how far I’ve come with my running, that my training would trail off and I wouldn’t be able to make it to the half marathon in May, or my goal of reaching the finish line in less than two and a half hours.
Turns out, the three days I unintentionally took off over the weekend were precisely what I needed to get rejuvenated.
Monday, I ran 4 miles after playing basketball in the afternoon. (I usually never run in addition to hooping on the same day.) Tuesday, I logged another 6.2 miles, reaching the distance I should be at about this week.
Both days, I felt good. I wasn’t thinking about that word — burnout — I was just focused on the next 50 days and being sure I make it to Indianapolis.
After the start to this week and planning out the next couple of weeks — which includes a 5K race in Bay City, Michigan, on Sunday, the location of the first 5K I ever ran — I’m ready to tackle these next 51 days and cross the finish line May 6.