I have a confession to make, lately I have been struggling. Two weeks ago I had a fantastic 16 miler that really helped boost my confidence and chase away a lot of doubts I had been having about doing another marathon, but many of these feelings have returned after a disappointing 18 miler. I guess the poor attitude I had even going into it really sunk it for me before the run even started. I hadn't slept well the night before, it was extremely humid, and once the sun came up it got hot, quick. For some reason, 18 miles is my nemesis. Last year, I had the same problems. All runners go through things like this, and after a miserably hot summer, and a few things Mother Nature has thrown this way lately, like an earthquake and hurricane, finding excuses not to run and to be discouraged has certainly be easy.
I've also been dealing with a slight injury over the last few weeks. I thought I had finally tamed my plantar fasciitis problems, only to have them come back. I blamed some movements we did in my summer boot camp class as the primary culprit, but the reality is that it coincided with my mileage increase, so likely the combination of increasing both my mileage and going to twice a week intense cross training had something to do with it. I stubbornly did 18 miles knowing this, and yes, I knew it probably wasn't a good idea. Didn't this stubbornness lead to a stress fracture 3 years ago? Old habits are hard to break. I am being reasonable though. If it doesn't get better, I know 26.2 miles is impossible.
Anyway, the struggles with my 18 miler reignited a debate with myself - to iPod or not to iPod.
This brings my third confession - I've never run a race or done a long run while listening to music. I've probably only worn my iPod while running outside a handful of times, and all probably in my first year or two of running. Honestly, I'm not even sure I know where my iPod is right now.
Running with a music player is a pretty controversial topic in many circles. Some people swear by it, others are dead set against it, mainly as a safety issue. I agree it is a safety issue, and also feel it takes away from the race experience - listening to spectators and taking in the atmosphere as a whole. However, I have wondered lately if having music would help distract me when things got rough, especially since I am facing running the entire marathon alone. One of the reasons why I've never done it is because I never wanted to feel like it would be a crutch for me, one of those people would couldn't possibly think of running without. If I starting listening to music to on my long runs, would I ever be able to go back? Or, would I spend the money on a new, smaller player, wear it around with me, but never use it?
Yesterday I had a routine medical appointment, and was chatting with my doctor during the visit. She's currently training for her second half marathon, and is running it with another doctor and a couple of family members. She said that she could never run that distance alone, and what could people like me doing marathons possibly think about while out on the road for such a long time. That is the mystery of being a distance runner I think, and where some of us blossom, and some of us struggle. There's a fine line between squashing the doubts and letting the doubts take over.
So, I ask you - to iPod or not to iPod?