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The Globe and Mail

A runner's diary: fighting the mental battle

Runner Dave Emilio

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Dave Emilio is documenting his training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 16.

There comes a time in every training program when I either know I'm ready for a race or I know I'm not. Just because I want to run the marathon in three hours and 10 minutes and have been training appropriately to reach that time, it doesn't necessarily guarantee I will succeed. At two weeks away from race day, I'm comparing pace and time with distance and effort, and trying to judge how strong I have become and if that matches my goal. Call it overanalyzing, but I need to know my limits.

I want to have an accurate and honest goal so I know how to pace myself. If I go out too fast, not only will I miss my goal but I will miss it by a long shot – that is one thing I can count on. Running too fast burns energy exponentially; at a quicker pace, boom, you suddenly hit the wall. It's no party finishing the marathon feeling like you're in a bad dream, running upstairs in knee-deep mud. So that is why I find it's best to be honest with myself and aware of my capabilities.

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The only problem is that I am yo-yoing around: I feel great one day and like a bag of rocks the next. On the bright side, there are more good days than bad, but does this mean that I am ready? The answer is yes, of course, but ready for an eight-minute improvement over my previous best is something I will question right up until race day.

I'm also worrying about a few aches and pains. I've been having nagging Achilles tendon issues. It's nothing major, but I know I am reaching my limits. Will the final couple of weeks with more rest days and reduced mileage sort everything out? Speaking from experience, I'd have to say yes. I'm getting better at staying positive, but my mind is running wild with all the possible pitfalls. Whether I can win the mental battles remains to be seen, but I do enjoy this stage. After all, it's part of the challenge of marathons.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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