Monday, August 12, 2013

Miles and Minutes

Hello Monday! We'll just agree that you came about 12 hours too early.

Officially one week into this year's training. The combination of feeling very out of shape and starting a training plan that differs so much from any I've done in the past hit me during my run this morning. Within the first quarter mile my body was saying "Five days in a row? Are you kidding? Turn around!" (Funny thing is that it should have been 6 days in a row, but an attempt to change my habits and run after work on Thursday turned into me completely forgetting to run that day. I doubled up on Friday- nothing like running the same hills twice in one day to make the neighborhood question your sanity.)

It's funny how we often try to address the mental and the physical aspects of training separately, but they are so powerfully tied together. The mental agony of running the same route over and over manifests itself in an unenthusiastic, lackluster run with you coaxing your body along. The fatigue of running on legs that have carried you through hill repeats, trails, and squats earlier in the week nudges your brain towards the "Have my leg muscles lost reception? Are they getting any signals?" train of thought.

The format of running for time instead of miles is very new to me. I feel like I must reserve definititive judgment until after I have run this race. For the past week, it has sent my brain in some serious circles. On the one hand, I only have to run for 40 minutes. I can cover 3 miles or 6.3 miles. There is no "It's almost 7, but I have another mile until I hit 6 before I can call it a run. On the other hand, I'm not used to just running for 20 minutes and turning around. I'm used to (loosely) planning out a route in my head and knowing how far I'm going. I'm used to that comforting mantra in my head of "the faster you run, the faster you're done." Not so with time-based. There is no way to "speed up" your run. If you have to knock out 10 miles, you can pick up the pace and get it done faster. Speeding up does not get a 70 minute run done any faster. There is an argument for the de-motivating side of things (If it doesn't matter how far I run in that time, why kill myself?), but the thing I suspect/hope I will gain from this method is the ability to better focus my  mind and my movements. Being able to distinguish a run where I'm out there shaking things out and a run where I'm pushing myself to be a little uncomfortable and being ok with it is where I truly want to grow.

I suffer no illusions that this change will come quickly or smoothly. As a runner, I value routine. But that's why we're all here, right? To do better, be better, realize what we can actually do when we approach things a little differently.

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