Let it

Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
Harvey MacKay

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Accountability for a Moody Athlete

I write blog posts often, but rarely ever take the time to make my thoughts shiny enough to allow my ego to publish them on the interwebs. Lately I feel like I need an overflow to somehow cope with my training moodiness. Someone to be accountable to- even if it's a non-specific someone who doesn't really care. So here goes.
The moment I signed up for The Antelope Island 50k and started looking at training plans, running became homework. It's like when you LOVE to read, except when your teacher assigns required reading, and a mental wall just appears for you to smack face-first into the moment you pick up the assigned book. Yeah. That. So I didn't run this past weekend. And I didn't run Monday either, even though I had the opportunity to. I just overthought my chosen 50k training plan and griped about how it's too many miles per week and I'd burn out before the race. I actually do think that's true, and I'd rather cross train instead of putting hundreds of unnecessary miles in. I digress. The point is, I was moody and whiny and I still am. I'm lonely, but too slow to keep up with most runners. I'm sick of running alone.
I got up this morning to go meet up with my neighborhood running buddies- who are awesome at lifting my spirits and telling me I don't suck even when I do. I hadn't actually coordinated with them, but that hadn't stopped us during the school year, so I held out hope. At least it got me out of bed. Vacations and scout camps have thrown us all off schedule. No one showed. Again. I told myself that if no one showed, I'd try for the 600 meter hill sprints that pop up in my hated training plan. I thought I might warm up for a couple of miles, so I ran some neighborhood roads, planning to loop around to a hill I had in mind. I made my way past the school and through summer morning sprinklers that threatened to lighten my grump status. Then I came around the corner to heavy machinery, construction workers who were awfully quick to gawk for 6:30 am, and a closed road and sidewalk. Back the way I came. The sprinkler run wasn't quite as light-hearted on the way back. Up the hill, around the corner. I passed my own street, dismissing the temptation to go home and climb back into bed. I moved along, deciding at random to wind my way up and down the hilly neighborhood streets and trails between frontage road and 200 E. When I reached the bottom of the steep hill that I had mentally chosen for my 600m sprints, it wasn't steep. My memory had misled me. This gentle slope was my nemesis? No. Not remotely. I glanced at my Garmin and set off at full speed, eyes on the top of the hill ahead.
Well that was underwhelming.
10 seconds into my full bore sprint, I started slowing. I pushed on for five or ten more seconds, and then slowed to a walk, my heart beating out of my chest and my breathing tight. What kind of a runner am I? Psh. I'm supposed to sprint for six hundred meters? I walked a little further up the hill, glanced at my watch again and took off, thinking surely I could do the other half and reach the top in one more sprint set. "Can't? Or don't want to??" I repeated to myself as my legs ran out of juice, pushing just a few seconds longer. I walked to the top of the hill. I headed south again, greeting a walker through my sweaty wheezing, wanting to assure him that I really was in shape, but I'd been sprinting, see? I didn't. What does he care? I just smiled and greeted him casually with my fists on my hips. As I reached the top of a cross trail, I decided on a whim that sprinting downhill for 600 meters might make me feel vindicated, and took off again. I made it for about 30 seconds this time. Nowhere near 600 m. Nope. Still not good at this. I set a couple more short and sporadic sprinting goals. To that bench. Past that rock. From that tree. Wheezing and gasping my heart rate back down in between. Then I resumed my normal "running" pace and made my way back to my home road. Standing at the bottom of my hill, I had to give it one last go. A glance at the Garmin, 3...2...1. Push it. Don't stop. Don't stop. Can't or don't want to? Can. I can, I can. Don't stop. Keep it up. Keep it up. 1 minute! Gasp. Wheeze. Walk. One more shot. 4...3...2...1. Push! 4 more houses, three more. To the mailbox, don't stop! I reached my front porch sucking air through a soda straw, heart pounding in my ears and legs burning hot jelly. I took a good look at my watch.
5.04 miles
10:59/mi average pace
5:07/mi fastest uphill sprint
It'll do. I do feel a little bit better.


  1. I stopped using a training plan midway through my first marathon for the exact same reason as yours: mental wall. I haven't had a training plan ever since. And yes, I got injured last year, but not because the training plan, but because I suck in stretching and foam rolling and I was mainly a road runner. Since I switched to trail, never had a problem. And I used to think I'm a fast road runner, but I'm slow as a snail on the trail. 10.59 pace? That's pretty fast to me nowadays. ;) My philosophy now is to enjoy running, the nature, getting a good workout (even if it's not running) and everything else will fall in place after that... You'll do great at your first 50K!

    1. Glad I'm not the only one Adriana! Yeah 10:59 was on roads with sprints thrown in. It's pretty fast for me too! Thanks for the encouragement! It means a lot! :)

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  2. Yep - get out and do what you love. You could run a 50K tomorrow. Just go do some more awesome stuff, run fast when you feel it and slow when you don't. :) It's no fun if it's no fun. ;)

    1. You're right Matt. I know I can do 50k. I just would rather it wasn't excruciating! :) I need to figure out how to make more fun out of it. I try to join group runs and end up discouraged and alone behind the pack (even the ones I've organized myself). So I go out alone and end up discouraged and lonely after so many solo runs. Adventure runs with patient friends are few and far between, and I can't blame anyone because they have their own training to do. Usually I'm pretty good at loving what is. I'm just in a funk. I'll get out of it. Just have to work through it.