The Itch

By Joshua Benge

Ever get a little itch you just can’t quite reach, but you really want to scratch?  Rewind two years, I used to consider March through May my “A” race season as I was such a huge fan of 10K and below distances.   I always had the itch to race them.  I am still a fan of those distances, but since I started training for the marathon distance, I have become less inclined to race them.   Last year’s shorter season was laced with a few PRs, including Cap 10K and Autism Speaks 8K, so you could call it a success.  I just haven’t had “the itch” for those distances since last year, despite the fact that I know a marathon base primes you for such good times with a bit of fine tuning.  At times, I feel as if the short distance itch has been scratched with heavy pace quality workouts.

That being said, my focus had clearly been on the 2015 Houston Marathon in January and just having a solid PR race there.  Leading into Houston, I had taken roughly a year to just build up base, learn to get miles in, be consistent, and just simply be patient (with a few races in between of course).  Yes, there were hard workouts, yes there were shitty days, but I just took the year to learn to embrace all of these factors and focus on “time on feet”.  My coach, who I have been sponging off of, taught me the greatest lesson I have learned as a runner in 2014/2015.  You have to trust the process.  While I am still learning, and hopefully always will be, I didn’t always understand the process.  I embraced it though.  The results were everything and more.  I popped Houston with almost a 30 minute PR of 3:22 and change.  I had the itch for something epic, and finally I had stretched my running ability far enough to scratch it.
 “You have to trust the process.”

So post Houston….  I started my recovery, gained about 10 pounds (yes, weight


The trip to Mt Bonnell is incomplete without running the stairs, right?

fluctuations do happen), and had been training and ramping slow, but had been a bit aimless.  I was doing my miles, my workouts, but hadn’t quite had a sense of purpose.  I even signed up for three Spring races and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October.  So when were things going to turn around?  An 18 miler to Mt. Bonnell in the ice was my first clue that things were turning.  A week later, a 20 mile run while watching my teammates do a workout was the next step.  Weight was almost down, body was feeling good, now….  the mental…  are you mentally ready to be back Josh?

Two wonderful medium long runs on my vacation in Victoria, B.C.  set me up to be in the proper mental place.  Everything felt so good, so relaxed, and I was just happy.  But there still wasn’t an itch.  Just a little sense of doubt and dread about racing again.  I was still loving just running and hitting miles.  Fast forward to today (just 5 days after my last run in Victoria, and two days removed from jet lag).  Running with two of my teamily members… yes, that’s right, teamily (it’s a TRPM thing), I mentioned to them that I didn’t feel like I was in “race shape” (specifically I meant 5K/10K race shape).  I think it just took me saying it out loud, and the itch was back.  I have never had a base to play with like this, and despite not doing as much speed work lately, I realize I am ready to lay it out and see what happens.  If it works, it works, if I hit a failure point, then I will know what I have to work on.  Either way, “the itch” is back.
” I think it just took me saying it out loud, and the itch was back.”

joshWe all look good after a PR, right? Joshua Benge runs everything from trail to road, short to long. He trains with Team Rogue PM under the guidance of Coach Amy Anderson. He also does some science on the side. Check out all of his musings at Out and Back.


2 thoughts on “The Itch

  1. Love your patient, methodical approach . . . and giving yourself the physical and mental recovery so you can scratch that itch again!

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