Thursday, October 24, 2013

That Willpower Business

In terms of willpower, it took every ounce that I possess to get through the Chicago marathon a week and a half ago, a race I knew from my first training run I was not passionate about running, and a race I knew at the starting line was going to be a long one.  But I made it.  In fact, I not only made it, I matched my PR.  (My PR is nothing to brag about, but nonetheless!)

My thoughts on running the Chicago marathon.
I don't think I looked up from the ground from about Mile 19 on - I've never in my life been in such a fog.  Sometimes I reference the "altered mental state" that a person can enter during an endurance event, but I'm pretty sure I didn't know what the hell I was talking about until Chicago.  I went somewhere really fucking deep there toward the end.  Glad to know I can get there if I need to but, er, I'm maybe okay with not pushing myself to go there again any time soon.

Marathons!  They are such an arbitrarily large number of miles...

A big psychology thing that I keep reading about is how willpower is a depletable resource, and when you pour a lot of it into one thing, you probably won't have much left over for anything else.  I took great comfort in this theory when trying to rationalize why I put so little into training for this marathon in the first place, and decided that the epic meltdown I was having in the rest of my life lent credence to the idea that I only had so much energy to go around.

So I was just waiting for the fallout from the intense concentration it required to get through the race itself.  It took so much out of me, and then I just kept going - visited family while in Illinois, came home, visited my brother who was in Mississippi on a break, commemorated Kara, did a couple of runs to loosen up, had a busy weekend, got caught up on all the odds and ends I'd been putting off because training (even the half-assed variety) was taking up so much of my earlier this week, I was starting to sag.  By yesterday morning, I kind of just wanted to sit quietly by myself in a corner for a while (but couldn't, because I had to attend my last grant-writing class, an exercise that in and of itself has taken extreme willpower to get through), and then today, I...well, you may think that I'm going to say that I finally relaxed, but no.  Today the illness I've been warding off for the past week hit me hard and I got sick.  Because that's what happens when you don't give yourself the rest you need:  your body will revolt on you.  And apparently a week and a half post-marathon was as far as my body was willing to take me before forcing me to stop.

Message received!  Time to breathe.  (And get well.)  It's been an incredibly busy time in my life, across the board.  But clearly I need to take a few days for myself to just not do anything.

(It's also maybe time to take a break from full marathons.  HALF marathons - now those are doable!  And the distance is still respectable!  I will be doing more of that business in the foreseeable future.)


  1. "A big psychology thing that I keep reading about is how willpower is a depletable resource, and when you pour a lot of it into one thing, you probably won't have much left over for anything else."

    I did not know this, but I certainly am finding it true for myself. After several big pushes and changes in my life, I have no willpower left. No will; No power.

    1. Well! I was going to find some links to share but lo and behold, the first link I came across was this one, which completely refutes the entire theory! I guess there is still quite a bit of debate on the subject (of course). But I do know that in my own life, "downtime" is extremely important to my wellbeing, and I have not had that for a while.

      I have also been spending an unusual amount of energy lately on things that I didn't really want to be doing (the marathon, the grant class, some personal issues, some professional issues, etc.), and that certainly has had an effect on my desire to do other things. I haven't felt like there's been much of "me" left over to propel toward the things I really want to be doing, which I'm guessing is something you can relate to perhaps all too well...

      But I guess the main point is that in ignoring all that, I've quite literally made myself sick. Which is so annoying. Here's to a weekend on the couch!

      (Thanks for the correction, btw. My brain is not functioning at top performance right now! :))

  2. Get well soon!! And make sure to rest. A lot. And enjoy it :)