Puking is a Badge of Honor

This post is the second in a series of guest posts by Eric Motter. Read his first post here. Check back every few weeks to read more about his journey as a Nike-sponsored athlete and his marathon training progress.


 

Puking is a badge of honor.
– Eric Motter (That statement probably isn’t true. I just made that up.)

I have a job that demands a lot of time and a fair amount of business travel, so I knew I’d need to maximize the quality of my training time in order to finish the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Half Marathon in under two hours.

Luckily my buddy Randy “Bones” Benedict – runner extraordinaire and the brains behind Second Sole in Gahanna – has me on a custom training plan. On a weekly basis, Bones has me running 3-4 days, mixing in some yoga and lifting weights to keep me (make me?) strong and limber, which leaves me 1-2 rest days each week. My runs for the month of June have been a mix of easy short runs and paced long-ish runs that combine some easy mileage with a few miles at sub-9:00 pace. My easy runs have been no problem. Lifting has been A-OK. Weekly P90x yoga sessions have kept me strong and loose. But those paced runs make me wish I wasn’t friends with a guy who manages a running store.

A quick quiz: What do all of these things have in common?

  • Launching a visual burp
  • Calling for Earl
  • Chundering
  • Ralphing
  • Yawning a technicolor yawn

If you guessed they were all euphemisms for vomiting, then you’d be partially correct. For full credit you would’ve needed to guess they are all things I came close to doing on several of my long pace runs.

Steve Prefontaine famously ran “to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” Maybe I just have too much Pre in me, as I was eager to not only show I had a lot of guts, but also to show everyone what was inside my gut. And yes, I did just compare myself to the grittiest, gutsiest, most legendary American runner ever. I’m sorry, and it won’t happen again.

For the last few weeks have I texted Bones a few pictures of my training notes. My notes detailed what I ate, my pace per mile, how I felt, and whether the temperature was abnormal. The notes were also peppered with a mix of pride and frustration about the fact that I was pushing the pace so hard I needed to walk for a bit mid-run and/or I felt like puking as soon as I finished.

Bones was unimpressed. On my 9:00 pace runs, I was typically in the 8:40-8:47/mile range. “Don’t get too aggressive,” he advised. “Kicking the pace as low as you’re going can be too taxing. It would be better to be a bit slower and maintain your rhythm than to walk.” He avoided comment on my tendency to tiptoe the line between acting like a normal human being and barfing in the neighbor’s lawn at the end of my runs.

The more I think about Bones’ advice, the more I feel like an idiot. It now makes complete sense to me. The race is still four months away, and it’ll be hard to run a sub-2:00 half marathon if I push so hard that I get injured and never even make it to the starting line.

I’ll slow down my runs going forward. My goal for the next few weeks is to ease up and maintain a steady 9:05-9:10 on my pace runs. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

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