Is it my legs or my head?

So, the Cleveland 1/2 marathon is this weekend. I told you a week or so ago that I felt like I had blown my Boston recovery. I felt like my legs were maybe coming around on a couple of runs last week. But yesterday, they felt like lead again.

I don’t have any specific aches and pains. That’s not the way to describe it–it’s just that my legs don’t want to move fast for me. They fatigue really quickly, I find myself winded easily, and I’m just overall tired. This morning I attempted to do six miles with 5 x 2-min. pick-ups as a little pre-race shake out. The first couple were ok, but on the last one, I just felt like crap. I actually quit halfway through that final interval, which is something I never do.

I did just learn that my hematocrit levels have taken a dive since last year (through my annual physical bloodwork). I don’t know how much, or if, that is a contributing factor. I suspect it plays a role in the oxygen debt I am feeling when I push, but I also suspect that I just haven’t pulled out of the marathon malaise like I should have.

Which all leads me to this question–is this all legit or am I just talking myself into this? I’m not sure, but the bottom line is that I lack any confidence for a good race. Today I was even thinking that I was completely stupid for even contemplating doing it. Blech.

I had a massage yesterday and will have acupuncture today. The rest of the week will be uber easy–only two very short runs. We’ll see if I can pull out of this or if it’s too little too late. I don’t have any other races on the near horizon because I race so poorly in heat and in Maryland, it’s about to get hot and stay hot for a few months. Given that, I’d dearly love to have one good, confidence-building race this weekend. Can I get there?

Have you ever felt awful going into a race? How did it turn out for you? 

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge


  1. says

    It’s hard to say without knowing more about your hemocrite levels. I’ve felt awful going into plenty of races. Sometimes you surprise yourself and do really well. Just be careful, you don’t want to prolong Boston recovery if you suspect that is what it is. I’m on the side of the fence that there is no amount of time that is too much to rest after a marathon. That is my biggest regret after My Fall Marathon last year. I rushed the recovery and it came back to me in the end. Maybe just make the race a fun one? Have a great time no matter what to decide!
    Kris Lawrence recently posted..Little Momma Show Me How You Move It…My Profile

  2. says

    Hope your legs feel better so you can rock this half marathon. I started worrying about my post marathon recovery last night. I think i am going to take the whole week after the race off from running. I don’t want to push it.
    J recently posted..Breaking 20My Profile

  3. says

    I don’t think that this is you talking yourself into this. You have done a lot with your body lately and it is no surprise that it is a little tired. That being said I think that you can have a good race this weekend. Sometimes the races that I go into with the least expectations or thinking that I am just not going to do well, I rock. I hope this week leading up to your race is restful and that you rock your last race before your summer break!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..Virtual Race Weekend!!!My Profile

  4. says

    I just wrote about this, sort of. I’m not coming off marathon training but I know how it feels to have some really lackluster runs where you just don’t feel strong and/or motivated. I think it’s sometimes your body just telling you it needs rest, or maybe needs a change. Maybe after your two short runs this week you’ll feel recharged and your legs won’t feel as heavy. I always try to remind myself about why I run and remember what specifically motivates me, and it helps to go into the race with that mindset (for me). Best of luck!!!
    Kara recently posted..Learning From Every RunMy Profile

  5. says

    Last year I went into a 24-hour race with little sleep the night before and having gotten my period around 1 AM that morning. I went in telling myself I felt like crap, and sure enough, 12 hours into the race I really broke down. We ended up finishing, but I was a mess for about 9 hours. The mental question – if I hadn’t gone in having psyched myself out – still haunts me a little bit. The 2012 version of that race is this upcoming weekend, and I’m eager for at least some psychological redemption.
    Abby @ Have Dental Floss, WIll Travel recently posted..If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what’s a video worth?My Profile

  6. says

    Hmmmm…I like your taking it easy and allowing the “sponge” effect (as I call absorbing running) a bit and be open to the possibility. Perhaps take a positive word or two to pick you up if needed on the course??

    At any rate, good luck:)

  7. says

    You’re such a seasoned runner/racer that I would think you’d just bounce right into the next race. I really hope it’s nothing serious at all. And I hope you rock out a great race. I went into my last half injured. I hadn’t run in 6 wks but wanted to do the race with my hubby (it was his first). So I did it. Totally unprepared. It hurt. It sucked. But it was also fabulous at the same time (running with hubby and crossing the line together). Could you think of this as just another long run?
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..More Running & GrillingMy Profile

  8. says

    I’d say you blew your recovery and must now turn in your Coaching pin. But seriously, how you feel on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday, or even the day before has no bearing on how you will feel on race day. Unless of course you have a nasty virus. But even then…
    Jamoosh recently posted..Brides, Beers and Les MilesMy Profile

  9. says

    I’m sure this is all in your head and you are talking yourself into it even more. You (and your head) will be ready on race day and have a good run. It is “only” a half marathon and before you know it, it will be over. Relax and enjoy the last few days.
    Johann recently posted..A Nice Trail Run!My Profile

  10. says

    I can’t say that I’ve felt awful going into a race, but I’ve had plenty of awful races! I hope everything goes well for you this weekend. Hopefully you’ve gotten your crappy runs out of the way so the race can be great!
    Kari @ Running Ricig recently posted..protein or compostMy Profile

  11. says

    I was just going to ask you if you had any blood work done. If I am super fatigued like the way you sound, there is usually an underlying issue. I have to be careful with how much iron I get. If I don’t get enough it is hard for me to even get out of bed, let alone run.

    I really hope that massage will relieve your tired legs. I have never tried acupuncture, but have heard good things about it. No matter what you are an awesome runner and I will be thinking about you.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Hippie Chick 1/2 MarathonMy Profile

  12. says

    I would agree that even though you are almost a month out, Boston was HUGE in terms of exertion and affects on the body. It sounds to me like you are still recovering. Certainly the anemic factor comes into play, but they may all be related. Don’t be hard on yourself. I would say your body is telling you something, and I know you are good at listening! It’s not in your head.
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..Do Runners Wear Out?My Profile

  13. says

    Oh, I’m sorry. It’s no fun to feel so blah- whether it’s in your head or not. Although with the difficult Boston marathon and your blood results, I’m sure it’s not all in your head! Hope the acupuncture and massage help, and that your legs surprise you on race day! Then you have a good chunk of time to recover before fall training starts.
    Laura recently posted..Wiaw and a Honey Stinger giveawayMy Profile

  14. says

    Pepper posted yesterday about how difficult it’s been for her post-Boston. She’s not recovering nearly as fast as usual and it’s both physical and mental for her. Those nasty weather marathons can really do a number on you! I hope you end up feeling better than you expect on Sunday morning and enjoy the race! The weather should be a little warm, but pleasant for the half and the course goes through some nice neighborhoods! I’ll give you some extra loud cheers too :) It will get better. Maybe not in time for the race, but you’re body and mind will get back with the program soon!!!
    Salty recently posted..Cleveland MarathonMy Profile

  15. says

    I don’t know any serious runners who’d actually take off as much time as we’re *supposed* to following a hard race, but easing way back for at least a week or two and focusing on nutrition are really important. How are you eating? Could your muscles still be struggling to repair and rebuild glycogen stores?

    If it were me, I’d take off completely through the rest of the week (save for walking and maybe even biking) and go into the race without expectations except to have fun and enjoy the experience. Your body is trying to tell you it needs more rest, so I’d say don’t wear it out more with any mental stress!

  16. says

    Bummer you’re feeling it, but listen to your body before your head on this one. Take it easy and enjoy the race – maybe bring a camera and take photos!
    Kovas recently posted..TazRunning.comMy Profile

  17. says

    I had the same feelings heading into my second Cleveland Half (my third overall HM). It was cold and rainy and training hadn’t been the greatest. I sort of gave into the malaise and gave up on it being a good race time and instead tried to just have a good time. Despite getting a giant blister on my foot from all the puddles, I managed a new PR. So, yeah, you’re going to have a sucky race time this weekend, so just have fun, OK? Cheers!
    Viper recently posted..Accidentally DrunkMy Profile

  18. says

    For me, I sometimes don’t feel great going into a race, and it lowers my expectations. Then, if I perform OK, which I usually do (the complete disaster is rare), then I feel better. Maybe even the lower expectations allows me to relax a little. My best races were within a month or so of a marathon, but I attribute that to level of fitness as opposed to stage of training. if, however, I have injury fears or not feeling good, I skip the race.
    Sometimes the best workouts come out of nowhere in the middle of a bunch of sloggy runs. Good luck!

  19. says

    You are a smart person and a smart runner, so I would say listen to your body. I have felt AWFUL on a run and then been great again the next day, and I have had tough runs that meant i needed to scale things back a little (and catch up on sleep and eat better). I would listen to your body and go into the half ready to race, but also ready to pull back and make it a fun run if your body is still feeling off. Good luck and enjoy it! There are plenty of other races , so focus on the big picture of your running. :)
    Erin Henderson recently posted..Yay for Moms!!!My Profile

  20. says

    After my first marathon I was so pumped up that I only took a short recovery then got back into racing. My third weekend in a row of racing I was at the start of a 10 miler and felt like crap. I actually had shingles (probably from the stress of overtraining) but didn’t want to pass up the race (dumb) and told myself I’d go easy. Yeah right! I took it easy up the hill and then once on the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge I felt good and took off. It turned out to be a decent race for me but I took a 3 week break after!
    GreenGirlRunning recently posted..The Relay RecapMy Profile

  21. says

    I think I’m weird…I find the races that I feel the worst before, and dread doing the most, end up being some of my best races…go figure! It’s so hard to know when it’s really physical and when it’s mental….
    Robin recently posted..5 Peaks Trail Race #2My Profile

  22. says

    You have enough experience to know when you are off. This is how I felt going into that 5-mile race in February (one month after the Houston Marathon, which was a much easier race for me than Boston was for you). For the five miles (I know, a measly five miles!), I just felt icky–I had a cold, and my legs were dead, and my back hurt. It was a few weeks later that the back thing was diagnosed. I know you will be careful–try to enjoy it without pressuring yourself. The long run is the important thing.
    Terzah recently posted..The Best Day in a WhileMy Profile

  23. says

    I do hope this race goes well for you!! In any case, you are running and running properly and WILL have a comeback/feel-good race very soon if not this weekend!!

    Doesn’t our brain get in the way?! Paralysis by analysis, my softball coach at Stanford accused my teammates and I of this and was spot on.
    Jess @ Blonde Ponytail recently posted..How to Improve Your Sex LifeMy Profile

  24. says

    Looks like we are about to learn a lot from ourselves this weekend… I have a 50k and feel completely unprepared. I know I’ll finish, I know it will have highs and lows (literally and emotionally), but that doesn’t hide the fact that you can’t hide in a 31 mile race.

    Fun run is how I’m looking at it. Have fun, don’t get injured: only rules.
    PavementRunner recently posted..A 50k Preview — My First in 2 Years.My Profile

  25. says

    I’ll be praying race adrenaline kicks in for you! It usually does for me. Almost through in the towel on race morning once when my legs were feeling like crap, no sleep, overall didn’t feel well and I pulled a pr. I think I depend on race adrenaline too much sometimes! Sounds like u are doing all the right things. I’m sure you’ll rock it! Good luck!

  26. says

    Hopefully the massage and acupuncture help. Good luck; I’m sure you’ll rock it!
    I felt terrible going into the Disney marathon in 2011. It hurt to run two miles the day before, and I had taken three weeks off within two months of the start.
    I ended up doing great since there was zero pressure!
    Abby @ Change of Pace recently posted..Spring has sprungMy Profile

  27. says

    I’m sorry you are going into the race feeling a little burned out.
    I don’t think you are talking yourself into anything. Your body is talking and you are listening and trying to figure it out. That is a good thing. It just stinks it is happening so close to a race.
    I hope the adrenaline from racing will carry you and you’ll end up having a good race after all.
    If not look at it as a long run and let it go. Look forward to how great you will feel after a bit of rest over the summer and look out come fall! You’ll be tearing it up!
    Missy recently posted..I want to be an IronmanMy Profile

  28. says

    One of the girls in my squad struggled with anaemia a few years ago and it really affected her running. How can you run as well if you can’t carry as much oxygen? No wonder you’re not feeling so great when you run. Just take it easy in the half this weekend.
    Char recently posted..Hope On The HorizonMy Profile

  29. says

    Ah sorry to hear that. I would imagine its not in your head. Honestly, it may not even be “workout running” related. Life is busy, it’s the end of the school year, Boston not just the race but the traveling planning to get there all takes a lot of mental energy. Let alone the piles of laundry and other life stuff that needs to happen. Maybe a few days off totally guilt free and a few naps might do the trick! Or maybe I’m just telling you what I wish someone would tell me.
    Fueled by Spite recently posted..Dodging bulletsMy Profile

  30. says

    i definitely realized i was doing a combo of talking myself in to feeling bad and truly my body feeling bad. telling the difference…well I still haven’t figured it out for sure!

    you however are way smarter :)