Chicago Marathon training brings the Labor Day Blues

If you are training for the Chicago Marathon — or most any fall marathon — chances are that by now, you’ve begun to notice something about your training that you might never imagined: you’re sick and tired of it all. The getting up at the wee hours of the morning, the almost religious adherence to a training schedule and the piles of miles you’ve logged by now. And if you have to wash down another gel pack with Gatorade you are going to puke. Literally.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

No matter what time of year it is, when you are two-thirds through any marathon training program, you start to feel a little worn down. You’re banged up, worn out and you still have a 20 mile training Long Run (LR) on the horizon. But there’s something extra depressing about training for a marathon once Labor Day weekend comes around.

The sun comes up a little later, and it gets dark a little earlier. Kids are back in school and new television shows promise to banish the reruns of summer. And being Chicago, the baseball teams have been out of contention since your first LR and you cannot wait for Opening Day football.

I’ve trained for and run 22 marathons — most of them in Chicago. I’ve also spent many of those years as a Group Leader for CARA, helping other runners train for a marathon and I can tell you first hand that I see it every year. Even if you are just running to finish and check it off the old bucket list, marathon training takes a bit of discipline, dedication and determination. This time of year, it can be hard to channel those first two items.

Even us group leaders whose job it is to help you get ready for Chicago get sick of the whole training thing. This time of year, I want to sleep in, eat Hot Wings instead of pasta and watch football instead of pounding the pavement. I’m ready for the whole worshipping a training schedule thing to be over.

The good news is in just over a month it will be over. That’s like, Super SOON!

Remember that as race day approaches, you’ll start seeing the banners, the commercials and all things marathon. Suddenly all your friend will be envious that you are running the marathon and they sat on their butts this summer — or not.

Some other things to feel good about if you are training for a marathon:

  • The day you run the 20, you’ll feel like a rock star.
  • Your metabolism is probably in such high gear that you can eat nachos like no ones business.
  • There’s still time for at least one more street festival (Taste of Polonia, German-American Fest anyone)
  • The LRs are getting shorter which means the weekday mileage decreases as well.

What often helps me gets me back in spirit is going for a run in the evening just as the sun is starting to set. The path is noticeably quieter with the tourists gone and less crowded since the fair weather folks head inside to the gym. When I do encounter another runner, I don’t even have to look for the color-tagged shoes to know he or she is also training for Chicago. We don’t know each other, but we do the Runner’s nod.

And if all else fails, you can always look forward to the little known post-marathon ritual where you toss your running clothes into a bonfire while drinking anything but Gatorade.

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