Friday, November 25, 2011

A Run, A Mental Run

How do you know when you’re tired? When your body maybe needs a rest?

There’s those runs. Sometimes they start out achy and sore right away. Then 2 or 3 km into the pain disappears and you have a super wicked good run. Then there’s the times where you start out achy and sore right away. Then after 2 or 3 km the pain doesn’t go away. This morning I had one of those runs.

By 2km I still felt pretty wrecked. My legs were sore and screaming and my heart rate was a good 8-10 beats higher than normal yet I was running 30 seconds/km slower. I kept going, waiting for the relief but it never arrived. The thing is, there’s no way to know which kind of run it’s going to be without continuing with it. I was running up a long gradual hill, with a strong headwind on a somewhat rural road with fields on either side and no streetlights. Two coyotes crossed the road right in front of me. I thought about turning around, I also thought about running faster but neither of those things happened. Luckily, I didn’t get eaten by coyotes and live to blog another day.

Then I started talking to myself. I wasn’t upset or angry or in so much pain I wanted to scream. It was more of a “it is what it is” situation and I thought a good ol' conversation would help distract me. I was 5km into an 11km run. I was pretty much the farthest away from home at that point. There was no short cut, the only way back home was to keep on running. No matter how slow or how labored.

I told myself that despite the pain, “I can do this.” I woke up at 4:30am 5 days in a row. I ran, I went to a couple spin classes and I rode the trainer in my living room. I woke up at 4:30am today, Friday. I put on my running clothes. I laced up my shoes. It was all my choice. I chose to wake up that early. I chose to lay all my clothes out the night before in preparation. I chose to get out and sweat in the cold long before the sun comes up. It was my choice.

I didn’t have any responsibilities to anybody. Not even myself. I didn’t HAVE to run. This may have been day 5 in a row of early morning workouts but it was also day 6 in a row out of 7 that I will be working out. There was nobody I owed it to, not even myself. But there I was, running in the pitch dark at the crack of dawn. Legs hurting and breathing labored. Oh man I needed this.

So myself and I had a conversation. We talked about the things that are stressing me out. We talked about why I needed that run so bad no matter how sore my legs were. After the run I had a long commute to work, to a job which is not secure right now and I’m risking losing. To a day of sitting at my desk and listening to construction workers in the unit next to us. To a long ass Friday work day after a seriously anxious week.

This was one of those runs where the mental aspect of running is what got me through. Talking to myself (out loud). Listening to my more labored than usual breathing. Pushing through legs that wanted to stop but a desire that refused.

I thought about the pain and what I did all week to get to that pain. I know that’s my body’s way of saying it needs a rest day. I’ve been pushing it too hard consecutively for too many days in a row. I can’t wait till Sunday. Sunday is rest day and I’m going to enjoy it!

So how do you know when your body needs a rest? When you have to rely on talking to yourself while running.

1 comment:

  1. Listen to your body. It knows.

    One time, just before my high school years, in the middle of a 70-mile ride, I had to do something very similar to your conversation with yourself. I found that singing all of the camp songs that I could remember was the only way that I could keep myself going. "The other day I saw a bear..."

    And seeing coyotes on your run is pretty sweet!

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