Training for a marathon is a lot like watching a sitcom.
You start doing it because it's something you really enjoy. Week after week, you indulge yourself in this form of entertainment, and it takes you away from reality for just a little while. Your theme song is that achy feeling you sense slowly leaving your muscles in the first couple miles. Your credits are those last few steps, and that little post-credit scene is the unexpected muscle pain you get a few hours later.
Both activities are based in years of experience. Deep down, the sitcoms have that same familiar feeling. There's a structure, an arc and a resolution. The same goes for your training program, starting gradually, increasing dramatically and then easing up before one last season finale, as it were, the race itself.
For me, though, there is a bit of a darker parallel as well. Any time you watch a sitcom and the characters put together a plan, you know full well that the plan is going to go awry. Something is going to go horribly wrong, or there would be no comedy to the action. The Office is a great example of this. Whenever a character absolutely must do something perfectly, you can count on some situation or character making it all go to hell. The comedy comes from the tragedy.
Whether you realize it or not, some part of you is always waiting for the other shoe to drop when you watch these shows. If there were no conflict, there could be no triumph.
Throughout this season of training, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I've been sure that, even though I'm taking care of myself and training carefully this time around, something negative was going to happen, because something negative always does. The difference this time around was that I was going to be ready with my overconfidence and careful planning.
And so far, nothing has happened. My travel plans are getting a little bent out of shape, but other than that, I'm doing just fine. I'm running with a bit of creakiness, but no real pain. My times are solid without stressing.
So when does everything start to go wrong? I'm hoping that this is the season that disproves the rule, and I've been avoiding writing about it for fear of a jinx, but I think it's an important thought to document. Even in the midst of my strongest training ever, I still have this nervous voice in the back of my head telling me that something can go wrong, and it is that voice that will keep me safe. That voice will make sure that I don't go out too fast on race day, and that I drink lots of water and stick to my mileage plan.
And hopefully we'll get picked up next season.
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