Day 2 of Boot Camp, done!


Today’s Boot Camp actually seemed a lot easier than Day 1 because I knew the moves and what modifications I needed to do.  My muscles feel stronger already! 🙂


The Husband did Boot Camp with Nicole and I.  He regularly strength trains and said it was challenging, but not impossible. 


Nicole + Husband also had fun comparing legs to see who’s was the whitest (the Husband won).




A big pumpernickel and hummus sandwich:


Roasted ‘fries’:


Reader Question:  Crying Uncle During Marathon Training


Annie wrote, “I’m writing about something I’ve been struggling with for a few weeks – the emotional side of marathon training. I’m currently in week 11 of an 18-week training plan to run my first marathon on May 1. The first few weeks were relatively unremarkable and they flew by. Then I came down with a nasty cold and had to skip a few runs. I’m back into the swing of things now, but have been struggling emotionally since.  On top of training, I’m currently in my 3rd year of a Clinical Psychology PhD program, and this semester is the most challenging to date. I’m totally burnt out from school, and I feel increasingly defeated with every long run that I do. Running is usually a source of joy in my life, but recently it’s been just the opposite. 


I did 15 miles last weekend (my PDR), and instead of feeling excited about conquering a new distance, I felt angry with myself for voluntarily doing something that left me exhausted/in pain.  My friends and family keep telling me that it’s OK to not run the marathon, especially given how many other things are on my plate. They say I need to give myself permission to NOT run the full marathon. I understand what they’re saying, and agree. I’m a therapist-in-training and would tell my therapy clients the same thing. But I can’t help but wonder if this burnout is part of the deal. Part of me wants to drop down to the half marathon, but the other part of me is saying just to suffer through it for 7 more weeks. 


I worry that if I quit training, I’d regret it but it would be too late to resume training. There are also fears/doubts about NOT being able to complete the distance on race day (15 miles HURT and I can’t fathom doing 11.2 more), or injuring myself in the weeks leading up to it. 


Marathon training is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I heard people say that before beginning but there’s no way to truly understand that until you experience it firsthand.  Did you experience similar burnout/anxiety when training for your marathons? At what point is this burnout no longer normal? And how the heck do you motivate yourself every.freaking.weekend for a long run?”


What a great – and important – questions!  I thought I’d share my experiences and feedback, and then I’d love to also hear YOUR advice for Annie.  Some background:  I ran the Disney Marathon in January 2010, and I ran Spinx Run Fest Marathon in October 2010.  I finished Disney in 4:53, and I finished Spinx in 4:22 (I was insanely happy with my second marathon).


Marathon training is an awesome, crazy beast.  And truly, as Annie is discovering, it’s as much about your mind as your body.  It’s a grueling and looong journey, and the only really exciting glory is at the end!


I intended to run my third marathon in December, but I ended up dropping out.  Why?  I knew I didn’t have the time or energy to run it.  So instead, I ran the 5K (and had a blast).  But how could I tell the difference between the natural burnout I felt during marathon 1 and 2 and the sinking feeling that marathon 3 would wipe me out?     Some thoughts:


  • Long runs are significantly better when you are doing them with a partner.  If you don’t have any friends or coworkers to run with (and remember, you can cajole someone who is running shorter distances to do a segment of the long run with you – it doesn’t have to be the whole thing), ask them to be your buddy.  If you don’t know anyone who runs, look into joining a local running club and doing your long runs with a group.  There are all sorts of people in running clubs, and I guarantee you can find someone who runs your distance and pace.


  • Keep your eye on the prize.  Marathon training is so long and arduous that it seems like the journey will never end.  I found it helpful to read other people’s race recaps or watch inspiring movies like Spirit of the Marathon (which you can watch for free on Hulu!)


  • Join an online running community like Daily Mile.  DM has a great forum where runners can talk and motivate each other.  It won’t help with the mid-run blues, but it’s a great way to stay focused and connected.


  • Remember that a training plan builds in room for laziness, illness, or boredom.  You don’t have to follow a training plan 100% – I aim for 90%, which means I completely miss a run (and don’t reschedule) 1 out of every 10 times.   The most important thing is to try to get most of your long runs in, but if you miss a few, it’s OK!  It’s more than OK to miss runs if you’re feeling ill or really rundown and sore.  That’s your body’s way of telling you the plan isn’t perfect for your bod, so take a few days off.


IMG_3354 IMG_3355

  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with the walk/run method for ALL of your runs.  If you’re really not feeling up to a hard run, walk/run it.    I actually set my Half Marathon PR by the walk/run method – it usually makes you faster overall than if you slowly jogged the entire thing.  Plus, it’s a real boost to your morale when you get to take a walking break – as long as you remind yourself that walking is NOT failing. 

  • On some level, burnout is part of the deal.  This is the big difference between Half and Full marathon training.  Mental burnout happens to every single marathon runner at some point.  Sometimes it lasts for a day, sometimes it’s longer.  Taking a week off of your training plan and just sticking to shorter runs or doing another form of exercise (like swimming) might help chase the blues away.  Burnout is a natural reaction; however, it can be compounded by other factors…


  • …Not every moment is the right moment to run a marathon.  When I decided to do both of my marathons, I carefully looked at my work schedule and really thought about whether I had the time for training.  When I dropped out of my third, I dropped down because I knew I couldn’t handle the emotional and physical pressures of work + training without being a miserable, angry beast.  At the peak of marathon training, you’ll be running a total of at least 5.0 hours a week, which might not sound like a lot… but you also have to build in extra sleeping time (trust me, you’ll need it) and time for cross training/stretching.


My ultimate advice to someone like Annie?  If Annie is overloaded at school, and the mental and physical stress of her studies + marathon training might just be too much.  Dropping down to the half marathon is like the ace in your pocket.  Taking a week off of marathon training won’t ruin your training at all – even taking two weeks, if you still run 10 – 15 total miles or so each week, won’t have disastrous results.  Just pick up on your long runs where you left off (i.e. don’t skip ahead two weeks because the increase will be too much).  If you did a 15 miler and then skipped a 16 and 17 miler, don’t do the 18 miler next – do 16 or 17, depending on how you feel.  You can either eliminate a ‘drop down’ week in your training schedule or just max out at whatever distance you end up maxing out at – some marathon training plans only have you maxing out at 16 or 18 miles.  Worst case scenario, you can fall back on the walk/run method on race day.


However, if you take off two weeks and you really DO NOT want to start up with training again, just maintain your current level of fitness and enjoy the Half.  You can always run another marathon – you might even be able to find a marathon that’s 2 months after the Half and just ride out the training. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it.   


Want more marathon and running advice?  Check out:



Did you experience burnout when training for your marathon?  Did you drop down or power through?  What advice do you have for Amy?



  • Jen @ keepitsimplefoods March 8, 2011, 1:19 pm

    Oh lordy, the thought of boot camp training makes my legs all jiggly. Sounds terrifying!

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife March 8, 2011, 1:22 pm

    WOW, that is a good question! I HATED marathon training for my second marathon because I knew what was coming (b/c of my 1st marathon which I subbed 4 hrs and PRed!!), so I forwent my time goals and just had a relaxed attitude about the training….I ran that marathon with my sister and had a TOTAL blast. I would suggest trying a week of more relaxed training and not worrying so much about “having” to run the whole time during a training run (or the real run) and trying to cross train. A relaxed attitude is SO helpful during such an intense time of marathon training.

  • britt will be fit March 8, 2011, 1:26 pm

    I have yet to be in a marathon…but applause those who do!!!

  • Kelly March 8, 2011, 1:34 pm

    I can only speak from my own experience (as someone with now 4 marathons under my belt, I consider myself an expert on ME, but by no means an expert on the subject AT ALL). Having said that, my knee jerk reaction to Annie’s email is that she should drop to the half and just kick it’s butt. I say this for several reasons. First, your heart really needs to be in your first marathon. I trained for my first during my first year of law school, and I loved every single minute of it. I saw it as a release from the stress of academics, and I had an amazing running group for my long runs. Your first marathon should feel good — because it sets you up to love the sport or hate it. Better to have a great half marathon than a miserable full. Second, there is nothing wrong with knowing when it’s too much. I have dropped from the full to the half on two occasions, one because of injury and one because I just didn’t have my head or my heart in the full. Once you reprogram your thinking from “this full marathon is going to suck” to “I’m going to own this half because I’ve so over trained”, it can really shift the enjoyment you get out of running. Lastly, and I don’t mean this as an insult, if Annie’s PDR is 15 miles less than 8 weeks out from the race, she’s setting herself up to spend 26.2 miles in pain and hate every moment. That just doesn’t build in enough time for adequate rest/recovery/mileage build up.

  • Ellie @ The Mommyist March 8, 2011, 1:34 pm

    I can’t enter who has the whitest legs contests. It’s unfair to the other contestants because I always win. *sigh*

  • Freya March 8, 2011, 1:36 pm

    I got a bit burnt out at the end of marathon training – but I kept my eye on the prize, and powdered through. I did every single run alone so it was tough – but the end IS worth it!

  • Val @ Balancing Val March 8, 2011, 1:41 pm

    LOVE those baby potatoes!!


  • Amanda March 8, 2011, 1:42 pm

    I only have one marathon under my belt, but I would recommend Annie drops to the half. A marathon is very much mental and if you’re not feeling it, then you’re setting yourself up for disaster on raceday. When school has subsided then she can go back and do a full. The half will also be a good entry point to a marathon to know what to expect. I also definitely recommend training and running with others. I don’t think I ever could have trained for or completed the marathon without a team to do it with.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat March 8, 2011, 1:47 pm

    I totally agree that sometimes burnout is part of the problem. This sort of happened to me during one of my races and made me wonder if I still wanted to do it. To get my head out of that negative place, I sort of put running on hold for 1 week (it was around the middle of my plan) and did cross training activities that were different but still got my heart rate up (like spinning, the step mill, etc). After a week, and after reading some motivating marathon stories, my head was ready to go again!

  • Tanya @ Vegan Faith March 8, 2011, 1:48 pm

    I trained for my first marathon this year and completed it in January. It was by far the hardest thing I ever did and many times during training I threatened to quit and I know there were many tears shed over the frustration and exhaustion. I’m not sure anyone has the right answers for you specifically because only you can decide that. But for me, I knew quitting was not an option because I would have been so defeated and disappointed in myself. What I did do was take it easy on myself, and not beat myself up over missed runs or bad runs. I probably wasn’t 100% trained well and I walked a good portion of the end of the marathon, but you know what…I finished and it was the best feeling in the world. Training for the marathon was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but it was also so rewarding. On the other hand, I didn’t have much added pressure to my life during training and that helped me accomplish the goal. You have to decide for yourself what is right and remember life is too short to beat yourself up. Just do what feels right for you and have fun!

    • Caitlin March 8, 2011, 5:06 pm

      Finishing is the best feeling, I agree.

  • Kacy March 8, 2011, 1:49 pm

    I went through something very similar. I was waking up every weekend with my heart racing and I had panic attacks because I couldn’t juggle the training and my workload everywhere else. On top of that I had an injury. I had to ask myself whether dropping to the half would make me feel better or worse mentally. I took two weeks to really weigh my options and it became clear that the full marathon was just wigging me out too much. So dropped to the half and it was an immense weight of my shoulders. I know I’ll run a full someday, and I didn’t feel guilty at all for cutting back.

  • Lindsey March 8, 2011, 1:51 pm

    Your lunch looks really good. Thanks for the great advice!

  • Erin D. March 8, 2011, 1:53 pm

    I have actually been Annie (well, figuratively!) so my heart goes out to her! Exactly a year ago, I had been training for 10 weeks for my first full marathon when I had a sort of nervous breakdown. I’m a PhD student and at that time was in the midst of my qualifying exams and two tough classes that were heavy on the reading load, I was maintaining long distance relationships with my boyfriend, friends, and family, was volunteering at a local animal shelter, and trying to live life! I realized that there was no way I could spare precious hours of productivity to run 20 miles and then spend the rest of a day recovering. Nor could I fit in 8 or 10 miles in the middle of the week. For me, there just weren’t enough hours in a day.

    I was exhausted, stressed, and constantly on an emotional rollercoaster! Who knew running could cause all those feelings in a person–isn’t it supposed to be fun?

    Around Spring Break and after many tearful conversations with my boyfriend describing how I was feeling, I decided it just plain wasn’t worth it. I could either run a marathon and let my schoolwork and dissertation suffer or I could set my sights on running my best half marathon. After a lot of back and forth, I decided to focus on the half marathon because it would allow me to have my cake (do well in school) and eat it too (run well, rested, and happy).

    I was so sad when I first made the choice; I felt like a huge failure. I have friends and read blogs by people who train for triathlons while in graduate school, people who devote hours upon hours to exercise and training while in graduate school–why couldn’t I do it? You have to put those feelings behind you. It isn’t worth it to compare yourself to others like that, because, then, who are you running a marathon for in the first place: you or them?

    Let me tell you: BEST DECISION EVER. After about two weeks of the new half marathon program, I knew I had made the right decision for me. I felt awesome, my schoolwork wasn’t suffering, my runs felt light and happy and my pace improved since I could focus on tempo and speed runs instead of just distance. I ended up running a 1:50 half marathon, my fastest pace (8:32 I think?) in ANY race. I felt so good about myself and my new record and at that point in time, that was just as good (maybe better?) as running a full marathon.

    In short, do what feels right, even if you feel guilty/sad/disappointed. Being a student is a job like no other, and you have to make sacrifices to be successful. I still plan to run a full marathon someday soon, but it will be post-graduation! I hope this helps!

    • Baking 'n' Books March 8, 2011, 2:24 pm

      LOVED this reply!

      “Greatest decision ever”!

      I’m not the person to say period 🙁 – BUT Regretting ANYthing is life is a waste of time and energy.

      Things could always be different. Just move on and focus!

      (P.S – Caitlin I think it says a lot about you that you get these amazing questions from readers – and your thoughtful answers!).

      (Also – what size weights are those?!)

    • Kate @ Spoonful of Vigor March 8, 2011, 4:23 pm

      I’m also a PhD student and considering dropping down from the marathon I’m supposed to be running on May 1. I really appreciate you sharing your story!

      • Caitlin March 8, 2011, 5:07 pm

        PhDs are the ultimate marathon 🙂

        • Annie March 8, 2011, 6:15 pm

          True story!

  • Cathy K March 8, 2011, 1:53 pm

    totally drop down to the half. training is part of the “journey of the marathon,” and if you are feeling overwhelmed and not enjoying the process, it’s a long and hard slog to race day.
    do the half, take a break, and when life is less stressful and hectic, aim for completing the full marathon. you have so much time and so many races ahead of you!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) March 8, 2011, 1:53 pm

    Lunch looks amazing Caitlin! I am so glad the boot camp felt better today! As for running, you know I don’t do it, but can I just say that I love how good you are at sharing this type of information. I wanted to let you know that the way you write, makes me feel more motivated and I use your information towards my own fitness goals. Thank you!

  • Lesley Lifting Life March 8, 2011, 1:54 pm

    I wish I could have had your lunch instead of mine, ha. I especially love the looks for those fries … mmm!

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin March 8, 2011, 1:56 pm

    Great post Caitlin. I actually signed up for first marathon at the end of October and I am really excited but also nervous for the training. I love the half marathon distance, but running a full marathon is something I really want to do at least once. I think your point about picking the right time to run it is very important!

  • Kara March 8, 2011, 2:00 pm

    I’m doing my first full marathon on Sunday and I felt overwhelmed at some points, but never burnt out. Running is my main break from my “job” (being a mommy to a very active 9 month old baby) and I really enjoy it…mostly. Sometimes after a long run when I could barely move later in the day and I was in a lot of pain, I questioned it. But I still really want to do it and it isn’t making me miserable.

    If the woman asking for advice drops to a shorter distance, that’s probably for the best. There are always more marathons to run and it should be a mostly positive experience!

  • Victoria March 8, 2011, 2:03 pm

    Running and Walking! Hooray for that method! Sometimes you just don’t have time to recover from a 15 mile run. Working some intentional and purposeful walking into your long runs can really help with how you feel afterward.

    Also, maybe try refocusing your training program? I have learned over time that the long run is just not as important for me. I usually max out at a 15 or 16 miler. Putting in a quality speed workout of 6-7 miles and a quality tempo run of 6-7 miles each week equals greater marathon success for me than logging three 20 milers over the course of training.

    I have a job that is INSANE during fall marathon season (like 60 hour weeks insane) and I found that fewer, but more intense runs not only improved my race time, but left me feeling more sane and not like every waking, non-work second had to be spent running!

    FWIW-I’m just a back of the back, 5 hour marathoner. 🙂

    • Caitlin March 8, 2011, 5:09 pm

      “just” a 5 hour marathoner!?!?!?! you rock. period.

  • Chris March 8, 2011, 2:04 pm

    I’ve been on both ends of the training spectrum in the past 6 months – I ran the Wineglass marathon in early October, flew through the training, and had a great race (slower than I would have liked, but great). Then I ran Disney in January, where everything that could go wrong with training did go wrong and I finished 20 minutes slower than Wineglass.

    The only thing that got me through Disney was the knowledge that I had done it before (so it WAS possible) and that I was going to finish feeling like my legs had been hit by 1000 baseball bats.

    I firmly believe that for your first marathon, you need to go into it well trained and feeling amazing so that you have the mental edge. If I went into Wineglass like I went into Disney, I doubt I would have finished and I probably would have never considered another marathon again.

    Annie, your body is telling you an important message. Listen to it!

  • Red Head, Yellow Dog March 8, 2011, 2:06 pm

    this is great. I just signed up for my first marathon (marine corps marathon on october 30th) and Im training for my 5th half marathon right now – my last long run (12 miles) hurt. a lot. I was drained at the end. I can’t imagine adding on so many more miles! It’s really encouraging to read about your experiences – I feel like you’re an everyday runner like me – not someone who runs super fast or can bust out 16 mile runs on a whim (like my running partner can – she joined a friend of ours who is training for a marathon on a 16 mile run without building up to it and was fine! unfathomable to me!). thanks for continuing to share! helps give me confidence and not feel like I just signed up for something I can’t do!

    • Caitlin March 8, 2011, 5:10 pm

      I am most def an everylady runner 🙂

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) March 8, 2011, 2:10 pm

    Hi Annie,

    Yes, burnout is part of the deal! I’m in my last semester (or at least year) of grad school trying to finish my dissertation and have faced four years of running/work/school hell. I cursed myself by running my first marathon right before starting graduate school, so I was already hooked and KNEW I had to SOMEHOW make time to keep it up.

    The problem is that if you’re anything like me, you want everything to go perfectly. Ace school, run marathons, get work experience, etc. Throw a new boyfriend in the mix, and you can imagine. Sometimes, I’d get so burnt out with everything that I was just an unpleasant bean everywhere I went.

    Marathon training is not for the faint of heart. I guess I’m lucky that I’ve had the experience before, so even if I have to cut back on training because “life gets in the way,” I know I’ll be okay for race day. Like Caitlin says, you can walk at anytime. If you have done some half marathons, and have gotten to Week 11, you probably are already fit enough to finish. (Not to mention, those are some of the toughest weeks to get through and will be over before you know it.)

    When I’d get burnt out during training, I’d cut down a bit. I found no need to run 5 days a week. In fact, I have trained for marathons running 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, and 20 as my long runs IN TOTAL and actually ran my marathon PR that time. Less is (sometimes) more, but since it’s your first, it will take a while to see what will work for you. Also, as Caitlin suggests, make sure you’re getting enough nutrients. They might make a difference in your energy level — and in turn, your motivation level.

    My best advice for you is that if you still feel compelled to run the full marathon, lower your expectations. As Kanye West says, “Reach for the stars, so if you fall, you’ll land on a cloud.”

    Feel free to contact me any time if you need support/advice.

    • Julie (A Case of the Runs) March 8, 2011, 2:12 pm

      I should also disclaim that I’m not an expert, but I AM doing my 8th marathon in 1.5 weeks.

      • Caitlin March 8, 2011, 5:12 pm

        Makes you pretty much an expert in my eyes 🙂

        Good luck!

  • Suzanne March 8, 2011, 2:10 pm

    Thanks for this! I just did my first half marathon 2 days ago! I am planning for my second on May 1, and hopefully a full marathon in the fall! This helps a lot because I know that toward the end of the 13.1 training I was getting bored! Now that I have done the half, I am excited again!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 8, 2011, 2:11 pm

    Mental burnout is tough. I think that if Annie really feels like she can’t handle it (without the added help of other people telling her she can’t), then I would drop out and NOT feel bad about it!!

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss March 8, 2011, 2:21 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I haven’t yet “officially” started training, but I have been doing long runs..although not recently since I’ve been recovering from an injury. I’ll definitely keep these in mind if I start feeling burnt out, though!

  • jen @ taste life March 8, 2011, 2:22 pm

    Such intelligent thoughts on this! I think she probably already knows what’s right for her, though sometimes decisions can be really, really tough.

  • Lily's Health Pad March 8, 2011, 2:29 pm

    If training for a marathon is truly that emotionally and physically painful, you don’t need it in your life right now. If you aren’t 100% (or at least 95%) excited about marathon training, I’d say give it up. Training for your first marathon should be fun, new, and exciting. I think Annie should give up this marathon, perhaps run the half like Caitlin suggested, and try again at a less stressful time in her life. But I definitely think she should try again in the future! Running a marathon is truly a treasured life experience, especially when it’s your first!

  • Lily's Health Pad March 8, 2011, 2:29 pm

    If training for a marathon is truly that emotionally and physically painful, you don’t need it in your life right now. If you aren’t 100% (or at least 95%) excited about marathon training, I’d say give it up. Training for your first marathon should be fun, new, and exciting. I think Annie should give up this marathon, perhaps run the half like Caitlin suggested, and try again at a less stressful time in her life. But I definitely think she should try again in the future! Running a marathon is truly a treasured life experience, especially when it’s your first!

  • Joanne March 8, 2011, 2:31 pm

    Annie is going through what most of us go through at some point in marathon training. I didn’t suffer too bad with my first marathon but training through this winter has Annies words spewing constantly from my mouth and in my thoughts. What should be exciting (running Boston) has become a dread.

    But you know, as a runner, you keep going. Every week will be different. It could be good and it could be bad. You’ll get that wonderful runners high when you have a good training session and then you’ll know why you’re doing it.

    If Annie is fueling right for her runs, getting enough rest in between heavy workout sessions, then it will all come together.
    Maybe running should be a time to escape the stress of school. Let it be YOUR time.

    • Caitlin March 8, 2011, 5:12 pm

      That’s a good idea – maybe you have to flip the negative to a positive.

  • Clare March 8, 2011, 2:34 pm

    My two cents is that if something really hurts you need to cut yourself some slack and back off a little; either with the training or with your ultimate goal. Mental and physical burnout can be a precursor to injuries. I speak from the experience of having “pushed through” a tough spot in training and now will probably have to give up the sport that I love. Be careful and look after yourself 🙂

  • Jen March 8, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Caitlin, I remember writing to you with just this question in the fall!

    I was finishing my last two grad classes, teaching middle school full time (for the first time! eep!), and commuting 80 miles a day. It. Sucked. Training for a marathon was great — when I was unemployed. The 16 miler kicked my ass in a way I knew I had to admit it was the wrong time to have so many balls in the air. I was devestated but then rememebered, oh yeah, that half! So instead of my first full, I did my second hald. And only 3 minutes slower than my first half. Not horrid for basically not training at all the last 8 weeks before the race.

    Bottom line, there are always other races. What’s going to make you happy in the long run? That PhD is forever. That is your life goal. Another race is always on the horizon. When it makes you so angry, it is time to reassess and probably switch gears.

  • K- Anywhere There's An Airport March 8, 2011, 2:39 pm

    I was training for my second marathon, the NY marathon, in the midst of moving to a new country! My training reached 16 miles when I decided the stress, both mental and physical just wasn’t worth it. I deferred until next year (maybe) and it was THE BEST DECISION I could have made! There is nothing wrong with deciding now is not the right time.

  • Emma March 8, 2011, 2:42 pm

    Thank you for saying that taking small walking breaks while running doesn’t mean you are failing or not a runner. I have to remind myself that constantly. Taking those short breaks make a big difference some days for me mentally and physically. I use to feel like if I had a run day where I took any walk breaks then it was a fail day or that run didn’t really count. Now I embrace them!

  • Terrieha March 8, 2011, 3:02 pm

    Yay for working out with the husband!! One of my favorite things to do is workout with the hubs!!
    Never ran a marathon, only a half, but great advice!

  • Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf March 8, 2011, 3:08 pm

    I regularly compare the white-ness of my skin with others. I’ve never lost in a single “who’s whiter?” competition! I have found people who were arguably “as white” but they all have different skin tones. I have practically translucent, glow-in-the dark skin (I don’t recommend looking directly at the understand of my arm on a sunny day. It really does hurt the eyes), but with warm/yellow-ish undertones. Most others I see who are as fair-skinned as me have pinkish tones and freckles–which I lost sometime in middle school.

    I started to embrace my fair skin in middle school, but one thing that still bugs me is that I can NEVER find makeup light enough! Just about everything makes me look like I have a mask on my face!

    • Caitlin March 8, 2011, 5:13 pm

      Hahah if you and the husband ever meet, you can have a contest to the death!

  • Whitney March 8, 2011, 3:10 pm

    I plan to run my first marathon in November and this really freaked me out. I have a 16 week structured plan I intend to use. I’m going to try to stay positive during my training and I definitely think taking work/school/etc into consideration before committing to a marathon is a very good thing. 🙂

  • Jennifer March 8, 2011, 3:12 pm

    Like Annie, I was a therapist-in-training about two years ago. The demands of grad school (classes, readings, papers, presentations, research, etc.) and seeing clients are high. I began seriously working out during grad school to have a sense of release or escape, if you will, from the constant pressures of the clinical program. I was an angry, emotional beast without the added pressures of marathon training.

    It wasn’t until I graduated that I picked up half marathon training. At the time of training, I was also studying for my licensure exam and working. I could only fit the training of a half marathon into my schedule. Was I capable of more? Yes, absolutely. But timing is EVERYTHING. Training takes a good chunk of time out of your schedule. When you have a grad school AND a clinical schedule, there isn’t much time to give. We tell our clients to take small steps to achieve a big goal. And those small steps eventually build up over time. What can you do now? If you can continue to juggle the demands of your program and marathon training, great. But if you need to break down that marathon goal, what can you do now, given your available time?

    This is YOUR journey. Only you can decide what roads to take. But don’t sacrafice your physical, emotional, and mental well-being because you feel like you SHOULD be able to do something. Be your own advocate.

    • Caitlin March 8, 2011, 5:13 pm

      Thanks for this comment – great feedback.

  • Melissa March 8, 2011, 3:12 pm

    To address Annie’s dilemma…I can speak more from the student/therapist perspective than I can from the runner’s perspective (I have always been a very casual runner and now that I’m pregnant I’m more of a walker!) Anyway, what I remember the most about graduate school and my earliest days as a therapist is how mentally exhausting it can be while you’re learning to sit with so many troubles all day long. You go into the field to help others and so often people forget to take good care of themselves. Mental exhaustion and physical exhuastion go hand in hand, and while I found exercise to be a great tool to de-stress, sometimes I would get stressed out about exercising and that would just compound the problem. So think about taking it easy for now…it gets better/easier after grad school. And, if you’re constantly stressed and tired it’s very difficult to be present for your clients. Like you said, treat yourself as nicely as you’d treat your therapy patients!

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans March 8, 2011, 3:15 pm

    This is good advice! I firmly believe that if it making you miserable then it defeats the purpose. The journey towards a marathon shouldn’t be stressful. Will there be pain? Yes. Will you want to quit? Maybe. Will you walk away with an enormous sense of accomplishment? Absolutely!

    At the end of the day Annie doesn’t need to run a marathon now or ever. But when she does it should be something that adds to her full life not takes from it!

  • Ashley @ Thefitacademic March 8, 2011, 3:16 pm

    Great advice! I’ve never done a full marathon (half is my distance PR), but I’ve heard all about the crazy mental/physical side-effects of marathon training – how it takes over life & can be totally consuming! I think it’s great advice to realize you can always do a full at some other point & to carefully consider all the other “life” factors going on (school, work, health, etc.)

  • Allison @ Happy Tales March 8, 2011, 3:19 pm

    Ohhh this is SUCH great advice, Caitlin! I can totally feel for Annie, as my very first marathon is on May 1st, too (Flying Pig!) I also recently just had the longest run I’ve ever had this past weekend (17 miles) and boyyyy was it a challenge. But I did it! I’ve never felt such tired legs in my life before, and actually thought towards the end “why am I doing this again?” But once I made it through, I knew with rest that I’d be able to do it again. To me, marathon training is soooo mental (probably 95%mental!) As long as I’m not physically injured and feeling pain, I *know* I’ll be able to do it. I just have to keep listening to my body and honoring my rest days.

  • Jeni @ stepping out March 8, 2011, 3:25 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m gearing up for my first marathon this coming October (Spinx). I want to prepare myself because I’ll be going back to school as well in the fall so I’ll have to find a good balance.

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) March 8, 2011, 3:59 pm

    I’ve never run a marathon (but have run 3 halfs, 10k etc) and I honestly cannot imagine putting my body through a full marathon. Training is really hard on the body, mentally and physically and I have never felt like my body was meant to run such long distances (based on the aches and pains I get after long runs). I think many people put too much pressure on themselves once they have signed up for a race, but there is ALWAYS an option to run a lesser distance or run the race at another time.

    I hope everything works out for Annie! My advice would be to figure out something that will improve Annie’s happiness with training, whether that be dropping (hate that word!) to the half or racing it on a later date. Why do it if you are miserable?

  • D March 8, 2011, 3:59 pm

    I think she should focus on the reasons she started running in the first place, and see if she can think about those when she makes her decision. If she started running (and then signed up for a marathon) because she truly loves running, then yes, this mental burnout happens to all dedicated runners and it’s something you just have to ride out. But if she signed up for a marathon because she heard a lot of people doing it, or it was a “life goal” or something, then she should drop down. I’m not saying those aren’t fine reasons to run a marathon, but there has to be the love of running to fall back on when times get tough.

    Also, everyone worries that they might not be able to do it. That’s natural, and if we didn’t do things every time we doubted ourselves, we’d never get anywhere. Elite runners drop out of marathons sometimes, experienced runners hit the wall, etc. No one knows what will happen in the last few miles, and that is part of the challenge and experience of running a marathon. You won’t be any more confident the next time around, so I wouldn’t waste your training that you’ve done so far just because you feel unsure.

    And as far as injuries go, you can’t safeguard yourself against those forever. You just do what you can to prevent them and then train appropriately. Sometimes people get injured running 20 miles a week, and sometimes they are fine running 140. Again, you can’t put things on hold because of an arbitrary fear! Be as proactive as possible (stretch, foam roll, whatever) and then just go for it!

    And lastly, as far as time management goes…you gotta face up to it. A lot of people train for marathons with a lot more on their plate than school (sorry for the tough love). You need to evaluate your schedule and workload and see how you can adjust it to fit in your runs and make it more enjoyable and relaxing. I truly believe it’s one of those “you have to make time” situations. I am a full time masters student and I work 20 hours a week in a research institute and 20 hours at a part time job. I work 6 days a week, take a full course load, and I am training for my second marathon. I get that it’s hard and that you can feel emotionally drained from everything else in life, but I truly believe that the feelings of success, accomplishment and confidence that you will feel after the marathon will make it worth it, and will make other challenging situations in your life feel less difficult. Good luck!

  • Marci March 8, 2011, 4:14 pm

    Don’t set yourself up for fail, drop down to the half! There, that was a quick response. Train for the marathon when you will have time to enjoy the training.

  • Erin @ Big Girl Feats March 8, 2011, 4:19 pm

    The longest distance I’ve ever run is a 10K. To multiple marathon runners and athletes, that’s a warm up – but I was damn proud to finish that race. I’d love to be able to run and train for a marathon someday so these comments are great to read. I do think we have a tendency to push ourselves and expect extraordinary things in all areas of our lives when sometimes that’s not healthy or feasible. There’s no shame in doing what works best for you, your life and your body. There are people out there who would be so happy to walk, run or crawl 2, 3, 5 or 10 miles – so nothing is a failure. Take care of yourself, be proud of your accomplishments, Annie, and good luck in your decision!

  • Ashley March 8, 2011, 4:58 pm

    Thank you! I am also in week 11 of an 18 week training program and definitely dealing with a bit of burnout as well. Dragging myself out of bed at 445 for 12 miles BEFORE work today was brutal. But I did it and I feel better for it.

    I think this question is all about the inquirer and not what other people think. I, for one, would fall apart if I failed to finish training. To me, it’s worth dealing with burnout, cross training, and pushing for the finish line. (Which is precisely how I got heat stroke in a half marathon…so it’s not exactly my best trait). She’ll know when and if she’s willing to stop training.

  • cindylu March 8, 2011, 5:01 pm

    I’m a PhD student currently training for the LA Marathon on 3/20. Right now I feel great, healthy and excited, but 6 weeks ago, I was burned out. I donated blood in late January without realizing how much it would affect my training. Giving blood is important to me, I do it in remembrance of my uncle. Nonetheless, now I realize I should have waited until late March. I ran an 18-mile race 10 days after giving blood and had a tough time toward the end (combination of fuel and heat, and probably some blood issues too). The doubts took over that day. I asked myself, “Why are you training for marathon? You’re not even that fit.” I pushed through and finished. My body recovered quicker than my mind.

    A few weeks later, I did my 21-milers without a problem. I ran with groups of high school and middle school students in the Students Run LA training program. The students, their coaches and parents provided a lot of support. I know I would’ve hated those runs had I done them alone. I didn’t actively go out looking for a group, they sort of found me, but I feel lucky to have them.

    If Annie decides to drop down to the half, she can always do a marathon at another time. I really thought hard about training for this one because (a) I didn’t want to develop and overuse injury and (b) I didn’t want to end up hating running.

  • Rebecca March 8, 2011, 5:18 pm

    I totally burned out about 6 weeks before but I kept telling myself that a drop-down week was just around the corner and kept going. Then, when I felt burned out again 3 weeks before, it was time to taper. So it worked out anyway, but I definitely considered giving up a few times. I think that’s completely normal.

  • Emma (Namaste Everyday) March 8, 2011, 7:16 pm

    This is such good advice! thank you so much: i’m starting to train for my first 10K 🙂

  • Jamie @ Food in Real Life March 8, 2011, 7:32 pm

    Reading this post helped me so much. I’m currently training for the SunTrust half and have been so busy that my training isn’t exactly where I want it to be. I’ve gotten most of my runs in, but mentally I don’t feel the same. I don’t feel like I’m 100% believing in myself. Which is sad. I also have developed plantar fasciitis which is painful and disheartening. I think I needed a pep talk though, and this was it. Thanks Caitin for always being so supportive of your readers and helping us with our questions, and taking the time to write such informative posts. 🙂

    • Caitlin March 9, 2011, 8:56 am

      <3 you're going to do great!!!

  • Ashley @ Feeding Ashley March 8, 2011, 8:45 pm

    Love this post. My goal is to run a half in the fall, and a marathon next year. Hopefully! I gotta see how my 5k will go first. These are great tips. You are my running guru 🙂

  • CH March 8, 2011, 9:29 pm

    Super good question! I often struggled with similar feelings whole training for my first mary (NYC this past fall). I am a full time student with a part time job and I was dealing with a serious illness and applying to law school at the same time. Needless to say, it was tough. It was tough to run 10 or 12 miles during the middle of the week as a medium-long run; it was tough to get up early on the weekends and then study when I felt like crap afterwards; sometimes I was immensely bored with so much running and other times I was just in pain or exhausted. BUT finishing the marathon was one of the greatest moments of my life and I felt incredibly accomplished. Running NYC has been a goal of mine since high school, so I knew the sacrifices were worth it at this moment in my life (I had a guaranteed entry).

    I do, however, agree with Caitlin’s advice that not every moment is the right moment for marathon training. If this is something that you deeply, deeply WANT, then stick with it. But if the desire isn’t there, set it aside and come back to it in a few years. 🙂

  • Kori March 8, 2011, 10:58 pm

    I’m SO glad you posted this. I am totally burning out on marathon training right now, so I needed this!

  • Amber K March 9, 2011, 11:55 am

    That is such in-depth advice for her! I think you nailed it!

  • Matt February 7, 2014, 10:00 am

    Hi Annie – I ran Boston in 2009 (while co-parenting a 2 year old, pursuing a Master’s, coincidentally, and working full time), and can tell you from experience that your sense of burnout is completely normal. I would get up at 4:30am to do my weekly morning runs and both they – and my long runs – brought me no joy whatsoever during the final third of my training. I bet that will change for you when you are within striking distance of your longest training runs (18, 20 miles), and when you’re done with your 20-mile training run, you’ll be filled with a unique kind of anticipation I guarantee no other experience can produce. When you finish, you will have a joy and sense of accomplishment you’ll carry forever. Know that you’re just about ready, and that few people can tackle a marathon, let alone a 15-mile run! Having come this far, know that you absolutely can do this and should be proud of all that you’ve accomplished so far!

  • Kendra Nix August 27, 2014, 10:35 am

    I am so glad I found this blog! I am having the same “mental burnout” and I still have 7 weeks to go until my marathon! The last couple of weeks I have been having such bad thoughts of “i wish I never registered” “how am i going to do this for another 7 weeks!” I thought I was going crazy. I never thought how mentally and physically draining training for this marathon would be, and it is nice to know that I am not alone and majority of people feel this way! Thank you~ !

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