There are currently 54 days until the 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and I couldn’t be more excited to take on the Dopey Challenge for the first time. I’ve done the Goofy Challenge, a half marathon and marathon on two consecutive days, three times, but Dopey ups the ante by also throwing a 5k and 10k into the mix.
For the second year in a row, I’ll be going into this weekend not really prepared for the races I’ll be lining up for. Much of this year has mirrored last year for me with running ups and downs, mostly downs from May on, so I certainly won’t be going into this race after crushing a few 60-mile weeks. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a couple 45-mile weeks in, but even that will need to be done carefully since I haven’t been running high-mileage since May.
Last year, the races went much better than expected and I had a lot of fun. Most of this was due to smart race-day strategy and not caring about time. I’m weary of expecting the same outcome this year, but I can be hopeful and use the time between now and then to put in as much work as I can.
I’m starting to get myself pulled back out of my latest-in-a-string-of-many ruts, but motivation is still tough. Yes, I love running itself, with or without races. My mental health needs it. Still, that’s rarely enough to just roll yourself out of bed at 5:30am for a pre-work run. That said, in the last couple weeks, I’ve been able to get my body back on track for the early wakeups and I’m back to pre-work 8-milers–one of my measures for how running is going. I’ve got a few strong weeks of running going now and I’m starting to feel great again.
But this is kind of where things get a little weird this time around.
Typically, I have a loose plan in my head for multiple races down the line. My upcoming race is first priority, but I always have an answer to “where will I go from there?” Things almost always change, but no race is ever the finish line, it’s just another mile marker. Even goal races and PRs are mile markers. They’re not an end goal, just a part of the journey. Qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon? More mile markers. I’ve got sooooo many plans and running goals for after that!
Normally, I’d have plans for where I go after this race for added motivation to keep up the hard work. Everything builds on top of what you’ve done and my next race or two should build upon training for this race. That’s typically the plan, before reality and life get in the way, at least.
The problem right now is there are no plans after Dopey. There can’t be plans. After this race, I’ll out from running for anywhere from six to sixteen weeks. No running at all. Nope. None. Insert puke emoji here. This period of time is going to be real rough for my mental…and physical health. Depending on where in that range I come back, I might be starting from basically zero. Even at the short end, I’ll have lost just about anything I do leading up to Dopey.
While I have some hopes for what I’ll be able to do by the end of 2016, that’s all they are right now, hopes. I can’t plan anything because I don’t know how long I’ll be out. Will I be able to race a fall marathon? Will I be able to run a fall marathon at all? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I’m basically going into a black hole.
Coming back to the present, this makes it hard to really push myself now for Dopey. This isn’t a foundation to build upon, it’s kind of just _it._ In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been able to get myself on track, but on those mornings when it’s really hard to get myself up to run, what will be the motivation? Even injury prevention is kind of moot at this point. Insert another puke emoji here.
Both last year and this year were rough for running, but I think I’ve got a bit of a handle on what caused that and I really believe I’ll come back super strong late next year, but there’s little I can do now to affect that and it’s kind of driving me nuts.