I found myself questioning everything about my running. Why was I out there so early in the morning on a Friday, when I could be in bed sleeping? Why was I running the pace that I was, trying to hang on to 8:00 miles? Wouldn’t slower just be easier? Feel better? Why was I running so MANY miles anyways??! It’s not like I’m training for a marathon or anything. Good grief.
This is why the run was hard. Because of that voice in my head that doubted every. single. thing about my purpose. About it being worth it. My own mind is what made it hard for me.
I thought about giving up. And I mean I really, really thought about it. I slowed down for a few miles, struggling to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I thought about stopping, calling it a day.
But I didn’t. I just kept going. I let the negative tape play in my head until IT gave up. I outlasted it.
And then I found myself running my last mile – up a freaking hill (which we call “Honey Badger Hill, in case you were wondering) – in the fastest pace I had seen on my watch all morning, well below 8:00 pace.
I decided to take the run back, to make it mine. A run I could be proud of.
A similar thing happened to me yesterday when I found myself back on the treadmill for the first time in a long time. I wanted to do a 5 mile run with 3 tempo miles in the middle, and with the way logistics were going for our family yesterday the only way for me to get it done was going to be on the treadmill at the gym, after a 45 minute strength training session that kicked my butt. Not exactly ideal, but I had to get it done.
I warmed up with a mile around an 8:40 pace. Then I was feeling ready to knock out 3 fast miles around a 6:50 pace. That is, until I started actually running.
It was awful. The first mile was really so NOT FUN. I felt like my legs were moving so fast I couldn’t keep up with them. I was sweating like a monster and my breathing was heavy. I was tired. And then that voice started talking. It was so conniving, so sneaky – telling me to ease up, to run closer to a 7:00 or 7:15 pace. It would be easier, it would feel better. It would still be a great workout. I was so so tempted, trust me. But I kept going because the thought of how I would feel if I gave into that voice, well, that would feel MUCH worse.
I made it through the first mile and as I started running the second mile, the voice started talking again. Telling me I should just PAUSE the treadmill for a second. Take a tiny bit of time to catch my breath, to reset myself. I literally had to put my hands behind my back to resist the urge of pressing buttons on that stupid treadmill. It was ridiculous. I am SURE I looked ridiculous. But I did not want to touch that treadmill. I wanted to keep running, to make it through this run on top.
I am running a 5k this weekend and there will be no PAUSE button on the course. I am going to have to push through my pain, my discomfort, my tired legs, my negative voice – to get to that finish line. Especially if I want to get to the finish line faster than I ever have before. I can’t give up just because it would be easier if I did. That is not okay with me.
By the start of the third mile, I knew I was going to conquer my doubts and finish the tempo strong. I increased the pace to somewhere in the 6:30s and put all of my energy toward not giving up. Toward fighting for me and just getting through it. I imagined myself running my 5k, giving it everything that I’ve got. Beating that negative voice and the self doubt into the ground with each and every foot strike. It. Was. Awesome.
When I compare how I felt after fighting through these runs versus how I would have felt if I had given up or made it easier on myself, there just is simply NO COMPARISON. I would have been disappointed in myself, and it would have eaten at me for a long, long time. I would have fueled that negative voice, and allowed it to grow stronger. The next time I was faced with a hard run (which WILL happen, a lot, I’m sure of it) the negative voice would have a leg up on me. It would remind me of that time I gave up …. and the self doubt would increase.
Rough runs like these are an important element of training. We need them in order to become stronger runners. Not just because they make us physically stronger, but because they build our mental toughness. They show us what we are made of. And they help us learn to believe in ourselves.
With that said, I really, truly and completely enjoyed my beautiful 10 mile run this morning with the Honey Badgers. The run started out under a moonlit sky…
|5:30AM = pretty|
And was shared with some of the best running buddies a girl could ask for. 10 glorious, happy and (mostly) comfortable miles with good friends. We chattered the whole way, laughing and catching up on anything and everything. It had been a while since all of us had been together, and the conversation and energy just carried us through to the end.
We finished feeling blissed out and grateful. Grateful for the run. Grateful for one another. And excited to do it again tomorrow (and the next day).