Saturday, November 23, 2013

That run I didn't want to do

There are mornings when I wake up as soon as my alarm goes out, hop out of bed, down a banana, clothes on, and I'm out the door for a run before I can even process it.  Today was not one of those days.  I did the wake up, go back to sleep deal for a while, followed by a very lazy morning.  I was moving slower than slow.  My motivation to run was not helped by being reminded of what 23 degrees feels like when I walked the dog.  Being cold in my ridiculously warm coat, gloves, and hat for a short walk around the block is not exactly what makes you want to go run in tights.

I was not looking forward to this run at all, and the only reason I was doing it was part of Operation Get in the Habit Again.  I was worried about the cold. About some GI issues I've been having. About my shin. My hamstring. I think deep down I was worried about disappointing myself and getting another reminder of how slow and out of shape I am.  The prescribed workout was a measely 30 minutes- out at zone 2 (8:57 pace), back at zone 3 (8:38 pace).  I finally got myself out the door thinking I'd start by just running and then worry about hitting the paces, if at all.

Well, a block from the house my Garmin announced it lost satellites.  Awesome, glad I stood in the cold not moving for 3 minutes while it searched so hard for them before I started.  Oh well, just run by feel.  I felt like I was running a decent pace, not sprinting, but not just skipping along.  Then my watch beeped to tell me I was at the mile mark. And based on how I know where every mile essentially is from my home (a special gift of being a runner), I knew it was pretty close.  I guess it had magically re-found satellite and somehow guessed those parts it missed?  Magic technology aside, I saw I was at a 7:50 pace.  While this would once not have been a feat for me, lately it is.  My 5k pace is 7:57.  Yes, I had the wind helping me, but I had no warm-up and it was cold, and I was running this pace not feeling like I was going to die.

I kept on.  Now it was feeling a bit more like I was pushing it, but still not that awful going to collapse any moment feeling I had with the 5k test.  I didn't look at my watch much, just kept going.  Minor stomach cramps came and went, nothing to bad.  When I hit the turn around, it got much harder as I had the wind in my face, both adding resistance and just some good ol' suck value to the run.  I got a bit more of a side stitch but told myself I only had 15 minutes to go.  Around mile 3 I slowed down significantly, but I didn't stop or walk.  My body wanted to, but I knew I had no good reason to.  Slowing down was allowable, but I wasn't going to succumb to walking.  Mental toughness builds in the winter, far ahead of the long rides and runs of the Ironman build.

I finished the run with an overall pace of 8:02 min/miles.  I was elated.  Not only was I resembling my old speed (though at a harder effort) but I had an awesome run when I had been dreading it.  I wonder if this is the power of expectations.  I had the bar set low for the run.  I was going to be proud of myself just for getting out the door and slogging through 30 minutes.  I wasn't going into it as a test, where I have expectations and am disappointed in results.  A few weeks ago, I quit on myself during the test, walking some steps.  Today I powered through.  I believe during the test I felt defeated halfway through, and gave up.  Today, every good step just felt like a bonus.

I need to keep this in mind with future workouts I am dreading.  It tends to be those that I really put off that end up surprising me.  The power of low expectations cannot be underestimated.

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