09/12/2011 08:10 am ET | Updated Nov 12, 2011

Dealing With The Boredom Of Marathon Training

By Hailey Eber for

It’s so boring doing all this running,” the fiancé exclaimed the other night to a friend on the phone. The statement rang with a bold truth…as if it were uttered by Omar on The Wire or something. Actually, I think I was just in a daze and hadn’t yet had a post-gym shower, so it sounded really amazing, as if I were stoned and someone had just revealed an obvious fact about an '80s pop song.

Sure, there’s an excitement to pushing one’s body to new limits and seeing the improvements that come with marathon training. It’s challenging, inspiring, emotional even. Long runs sometimes release a torrent of emotions that I’d typically associate with yoga pigeon pose or Friday Night Lights. But, now that I’ve said all that, I’ll also say this: It’s also boring and repetitive. On a busy rainy day at the gym earlier this week, I was forced to run a half-mile on a treadmill without a television -- the horror of it all! When a machine with a TV opened up, I literally leapt from mine while it was still spinning.

I am fairly certain that the marathon day itself will be filled with beauty and excitement. Crowds lining the street. Amusing signs. The theme from Rocky and Cyndi Lauper playing over and over on various city blocks. Shirtless men with luscious muscles. Shirtless men that look like they need some snacks. (Actually, the last two things will probably be far ahead of me and hardly part of my marathon experience.) But the training itself is not exciting. I distract myself with books on tape, television game shows and iTunes playlists, but they can only do so much in the face of repetitive laps around the park.

The training may also be turning me into something of a bore. I seem to have little to talk about besides runs, blisters -- to pop or not to pop, that is the question -- the TV show I fell asleep to last night, and that funny thing my podiatrist said. When asked about my weekend, I will mutter something about a long run and a cheap massage and realize I haven’t seen a movie in the theater in some time. When asked about planning for my wedding, I will sigh and mutter something about pretty much having nailed down a date and maybe a photographer and then realize that I have actually done very little nuptial planning and that I really should crack that Real Simple wedding planning guide. My feminine urge to look at wedding blogs has somehow dimmed as the mileage has increased.

My boring-ness was driven home as I strolled around downtown with a group of girlfriends one night last weekend. I was in the front of the pack, silently leading the way from restaurant to bar. It occurred to me to converse with my fellow pack leader, a friend from out of town that I hadn’t seen in a year or two, but, after a not-so-great long run earlier in the day, I couldn’t quite muster the efforts or the words. Besides, what would we talk about?

The 14 miles I’d run in the heat earlier in the day? We‘d pretty much covered that at dinner. There’s only so much to say. “How far did you run today?” “14 miles.” “Wow.” “Yeah, but it was supposed to be more like 18.” “Still…”

In truth, I’d have loved to chat about the burning sensation between my legs -- no, not an STD, just a disgusting acre of chafed skin because I somehow left the house with everything but BodyGlide. Sadly though, most friends, especially those that don’t run, have little interest in chatting about chafing near nether regions.

Oftentimes after a long run, I’ll bound triumphantly and half-clothed into whichever room my fiancé is in and proudly display my latest grotesque battle wound. At least he’s also training for his first marathon and gets it, but I have to monitor my tendency to over-share. Yes, we’ve been together for many years, but showing him too many toenails with dried blood underneath them is perhaps akin to peeing with the door open.

I’d love to have other things to talk about: Perhaps an interesting project at work or outside of it, an upcoming trip, the fact that I’m finally moving out of my crumbling mess of an apartment and have found the living space of my dreams. But none of these things are happening; marathon training is taking over, spreading like a healthy cancer across my iCal. I slip out of work at 6 p.m. on the dot to make running class, that upcoming trip may involve a half marathon, and searching for a new apartment in New York is its own sort of endurance test that I can’t quite fathom embarking on at this point…despite the leak in my closet and ineffectual email exchanges with my landlord.

Late at night, when I should be going to bed but am instead reflecting upon all I didn’t get done that day, I will sometimes feel drowned by thoughts of all the projects I have started but not finished: The personal website, the photo essay, the massive desk reorganization. Then, I attempt to shove them aside in the chaos of my brain. I need to fit in an early run the next morning, and I need to get to sleep. All those unfinished tasks will surely be waiting at the marathon finish line in November.

Training Week 8 Summary
Miles logged:
30 miles

Longest run: 14 miles

Long run fuel: Japanese mango gummies, half of a chocolate chip cookie dough Larabar (that’s a pretty generous description for what it actually tastes like), orange Gatorade

Post run recovery food: Almonds, the other half of the aforementioned Larabar, a not-very-gentle massage from a man from Moscow

Related posts:

Back To Fitness: Why Everyone Should Run A Marathon
Marathon (Wo)Man: 8 Obvious Things I’ve (Re)Learned About Marathon Training
Marathon (Wo)Man: It Does (And Doesn’t) Get Better

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