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I Don't Deserve This

I am four weeks into my 12-week, half-marathon training program, and I have a confession to make: I am running better than I deserve to run. It simply does not make any sense, because I have yet to complete a full week's workout. 

Unless you consider rehearsing with the band for an hour and then leading worship for 30-40 minutes cross training, I have skipped the Sunday workout entirely, and I plan to continue that pattern. Actually, that was always my intention, so I don't feel so bad about leaving out that part of the weekly workout.   But I had planned to live up to the schedule in every other way. That would mean three runs during the week (between three and five miles), and a long run on Saturday, which increases in distance by one mile a week, until I run a 12-miler the week before the race. That doesn't sound so hard, does it? Just three short runs in five days--that should be easy enough for a real runner . . . a dedicated runner.

So far, I have only gotten in all three of those weekday runs once, and even then I shortened two of the runs. I don't know if I can entirely explain, even to myself, why I am not succeeding at this. I do know that I am struggling mightily with motivation and energy on weekdays. 

The good news is, I haven't missed or shortened the long run. Hal Higdon (whose workout I am trying to follow) says that's really the key to training for this race, so at least I've got that going for me. It is the long runs that I have missed most over the last eight years. I have yearned to return to those days when I could go out and run for an hour or two (or three). So I find myself looking forward to these ever-increasing runs each week. 

But here is the part that doesn't make sense. In spite of my failure, I am exceeding my own expectations in some significant ways. I have already run a faster 3-miler than I ran all last year. And each week, as I add another mile to the long run, I have managed to reduce my average mile time. I am running faster, as I run farther. Maybe even more surprising, I am running these long runs faster than I did eight years ago, the last time I trained for (but didn't run) a half marathon (just before my pulmonary embolism).  

I don't plan to sit on my laurels. I truly intend to do a better job with my weekday workouts in the next 8 weeks. But for now, I find myself in bewildered awe and filled with gratitude. 

Thank you, God, for legs that can run and for lungs that can breathe.



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