(Okay, so the title doesn’t exactly apply to my post, but it’s close enough, and I couldn’t resist. Bonus points if you can name the artist and song the title references.)
In my previous post about my running frustrations, several people recommended increasing my distance. At first I thought, “How am I going to increase my distance when I already feel like dying??” But then I decided that the idea might have some merit, as perhaps I just needed to run a bit more to get past “The Wall” and get into the running groove or whatever the cool runners call it. Perhaps I was stuck in a rut and my body was frustrated by running the same, tired distance on the same, tired path around my apartment complex. And it wasn’t like things were exactly working my way, so I thought I would give it a shot. I was never going to be able to run farther if I didn’t try, right?
So Friday I set out for a park near my house, determined just to push past my usual 2.3 miles, even if I only ended up running 2.4 or 2.5 miles. The loop at the park is 1.3 miles in length, so I told myself I would aim to run 2 full laps and be satisfied. The weather was gorgeous for a July afternoon, but still a little hot for my liking: mid-70s and sunny (I prefer to run in temps under 60 degrees, but obviously those conditions are in short supply in the summer). Still, I wasn’t about to run on the “dreadmill” if I didn’t absolutely have to, so I set out. I warmed up with a 5-minute walk, a practice I developed during Couch to 5k that I have stuck with, though sometimes I will shorten the walk by a few minutes. When 5 minutes had elapsed I steeled myself and started running. The one thing I have struggled with in outdoors running is my pace. I have a hard time regulating my pace and keeping it at a steady, tolerable pace. I’ll find myself either speeding up or slowing down intermittently, but that day I focused on maintaining a constant, bearable pace. I wasn’t going to break any land-speed records, but that didn’t matter as much as just finishing.
As I ran, I was reminded of my C25k days of running in this park. I thought about the times when running just 8 minutes seemed daunting, how I never thought I’d be able to run 20 minutes straight, much less finish a 5k. But whereas then I was completely unsure about what I could do because I hadn’t done it before, I had no reason to feel the same qualms in the present. I ran 8 minutes, then 20, then 25, then 30, then a 5k. I could do it. So why did I insist on having this mental block that I couldn’t do it again and again? Like all fears, my fear of not being able to run any more than 2 miles was illogical and unfounded. It would be one thing if I didn’t WANT to run more than 2 miles, but I really did/do. So if I want to, and I know I can, the only thing stopping me is ME! I just have to do it!
I’m not sure these thoughts were quite as coherent as I was running, but I knew I couldn’t stop that run until had run farther than my previous run. But as I finished the first loop, I already felt the fatigue setting in. I didn’t want to run another lap. Looking out at the trail, it seemed to span on forever. Then I looked at my watch and realized I had finished the first 1.3 miles in 14:46, which meant I could be done with the whole thing in 30 minutes. Knowing that made it seem possible. I was halfway done! Despite the sweat, despite the heat, I knew I had to finish. The last quarter mile seemed as though it would never end, but finally, I was done! I finished 2.6 miles in 30:09, which gave me an average pace of 11:36. Though I was slightly exhausted, I felt amazing! I had gotten past “The Wall!” I walked another two laps, then headed home and took my dog out and walked another half mile or so. All in all that day I logged over 6 miles and burned 980 calories, a personal record!
And to think I almost took a nap instead. 🙂