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.