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Watch Aaron Run: Feeling The Grind Less Than Two Weeks From Race Day

Less than two weeks to go til the Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon and I’ve finally peaked in terms of weekly mileage. I recently finished up my longest training run of 20 miles (for a weekly total of nearly 32-34 miles). I've completed 3 months of training.

So THIS is what all the other marathoners were talking about.

I knew this feeling would come at some point. And it comes with a great deal of mixed emotion. I won’t sugarcoat itthere were days when I absolutely had zero motivation to run. The Friday & Saturday nights were always filled with social events. I mentally argued with myself “Maybe I’ll just have one more beer or one more glass of wine with dinner. Maybe I’ll just sleep in a little bit longer.” My last three weeks of training had me going out on runs of 16, 18, and 20 miles. That’s a lot of books on tape and Pandora radio. I knew training would become, for lack of a better term, monotonous. But alas, I tried to prepare myself for these feelings of “blah.” When you see your enemy in the distance, prepare for him don’t run from him.

In an effort to counteract these gray days of training I’ve made an attempt to stay focused on the bigger picture. The longer my training runs are, the closer I’m getting to my goal of running a marathon. I continually envisioned myself crossing that finish line with arms held high. I continually talked to people about the Thunder Road in an effort to be held accountable. (And a thank you to all of those that listened and acted interested). Before the weekend starts, I notched out a chunk of time when I would run. That was MY time. No appointments, no meetings, no traveling. That was it. At 8 a.m. on Sunday morning for 2.5 hours I would run. And finally, no matter how much my mind was telling me to skip or skimp on the run I would get up and put on my running shorts and shoes, which I lovingly call my “work boots." My mantra through all of this training has been “you have to start if you want to finish."

One additional point that I wanted to touch on during all this running is my appetite. I mean, seriously?!?! I just eat. And eat. And eat some more. Water, water, water. When I go to work I have a make a snack pack or else I’d raid the company refrigerator like a bear at a picnic! The anxiety of not having food around me was at times overwhelming.

It was also apparent during my long runs. I had to have something. My performance was beginning to dip when I got in to any mileage over an hour. I went to a local running store and grabbed about 5 different types of supplements. “I NEED SUGAR!!” I tried them all. The goos. The blocks. The pure honey extract. What worked for me were the jelly beans, which is ironic because I wouldn’t rank them very high on the “candy I would normally buy” checklist. They were convenient to pack and quite tasty. A side effect of all these sugar and salt-laced supplements is cramping, so I strategically had to place water bottles around Charlotte. Or run in a big loop around my home so as to have water handy. The lesson here: If you’re walking around the Queen City and stumble upon a closed water bottle hidden in a bush, let it be.

So we’re getting down to the wire here. I appreciate you allowing me to ramble and I hope through what I’m sharing you’re learning something about marathon training, whether you’ve never trained for one before or you just want to see it through someone else’s eyes. As a medical provider it has been an insightful experience for me. I understand intricate details about how the human body works and what you need to feed it to fuel it for the physical demands of a marathon, but training has literally put me into my patients’ shoes.