fear, long run, running, training

Just go run already.

Are you a runner? What happens if you don’t run?

If I miss my run, or two, or a week’s worth, it makes me grumpy and irritable. I start to doubt myself. Then, little negative voices start chipping away at my confidence. Maybe I won’t be able to do the race now that I’ve messed up my training plan. I’m not going to be ready for it, anyway. I should have picked something easier, or something further out so I’d have more time to train.

Then, it gets worse. I go beyond self-doubt to plain old fear.

I’m not really even a runner any longer. Maybe I never really was. Maybe running isn’t compatible with being a mom to three little people. Maybe I should just quit altogether.

Yeah, quit. That’s a good idea. Then I wouldn’t have to feel guilty every time I walk past my running shoes, which are sitting in the middle of the floor so that I have to step over them when I walk into the room (a little trick that is supposed to make me decide to put them on and go for a run when I’ve been avoiding it, but usually just makes me trip over them).

My attitude and my negative thoughts spiral down and get darker and deeper and sadder and more self-defeating. I don’t want to run anywhere (except possibly away from me!)…so I don’t go out and run…and that makes me want to run even less.

The only cure?

Stop stepping over my shoes and actually put them on. Go out the front door and start running. Put one foot in front of the other until the negative voices go away.

All last week, the thought of my upcoming 8.5 mile long run loomed over me like a dark shadow. Anytime I thought of it, the knot of dread in the pit of my stomach tightened with the certainty that I was unprepared and doomed to fail. The little negative voices were deflating me, their hissing persistence defeating me before I even started: Your training is inadequate. You only ran once last week. Your IT band is really hurting. You didn’t sleep well last night. The weather is too cold for shorts and too warm for tights, and whichever one you choose is going to be wrong. Your favorite socks aren’t clean. It will be too hard. You just don’t want to. No, more than that…you can’t do it. 

I can’t do it.

We had hired a babysitter, though, and George was coming with me. I had to do it.

The thing is, I don’t need to quit. I just need to go run.

There’s something about lacing up running shoes and leaving the house that tells those ugly, negative voices where they can go and how to get there. Every quarter mile, every half mile, every mile that ticks by, they are further and further behind me, fainter and fainter. I can go further than they can follow me.

On Saturday, I talked back to them. I told them, “SHUT UP. I AM DOING THIS.” I said it over and over. Eventually, they got weaker, and I dropped the “shut up” because it was making me tired. Then I ran until I couldn’t hear those voices at all.

By the time we were done, I had a new voice in my head…and it was saying, “I did it, and I can do it again.”

I ran the 8.5 miles. It was slow, but I finished it all. It was tough, but I finished it all. I was worn out by the end, but I finished it all.

I only have one more long run before my half-marathon. It’s a ten miler, scheduled a week from Saturday. The funny thing is, I’m not worried about it at all now. If I can do 8.5, I can definitely do ten. No problem.

I’m leaving my shoes out where I can see them, though…just in case.

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long run, running, training

When you don’t want to.

I am about to run further than I have run in two years.

This morning, my legs will carry me over eight miles.

It’s not that far, not for people who run distances. Not for the old me. For the me who woke up this morning, though, it seems nearly impossible.

To be perfectly honest with you, I just don’t feel like doing it. I’m tired. I didn’t get enough sleep. My back is hurting and my left IT band has flared up a bit this week.

More importantly, the little voice in my head is hissing at me.

“You’re not ready.”
“You haven’t trained enough.”
“You…Can’t…Do…It.”

Last night, we sat in stopped traffic behind a line of cars waiting for a serious car accident to be cleared. As we sat, irritated by our three screeching, overtired children, we grumbled about having to wait so long.

Then we learned there was a fatality.

Suddenly, sitting safely alive in our car, together, even if over half of us were melting down, didn’t seem so bad.

And so this morning, even though I really don’t want to run, I will. I will, because some cannot. I will, because I can.

I will. I choose to. I’m going to do it, now.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

gratitude, half marathon, running, training

Back on track

The quickest path to gratitude, at least where running is concerned, might be this:

  1. Have multiple little kids under age 5.
  2. Quit your job and stay home with them.
  3. Watch your alone time disappear. (This part is important. To really make sure you get the full benefit, be sure to always take at least one child with you everywhere you go, even when you use the bathroom. Don’t shower or check the mail or go to the grocery store or do anything by yourself.)
  4. Keep this up just slightly past the point where you feel crazy. Then keep it up a little longer, until your head feels like it might explode.

Then, go for a run. Alone.

No matter how bad the run is, it’s bound to feel like a small vacation.

(It’s assumed, of course, that you find someone to hang out with your little people while you do this. Otherwise, someone is bound to call child protective services on the crazy mom with the exploding head who just dashed out her front door and down her street with her running shoes on. I can hear the neighbors now. “What was she doing? I think I heard her screaming! Those poor children. Well, you know, I’ve always said she has her hands full.”)

After my 5K comeback at the end of May, I ran only a little in June. I then took the entire month of July off. (Not on purpose. In fact, I’m not entirely sure that I didn’t run at all in July. I meant to. I might have. I just didn’t write any of those runs down. And the way my brain works these days, if it doesn’t get written down, it doesn’t exist.)

By the end of July, I was seriously grumpy. Irritable. Unpleasant. Slightly crazed and bouncing off the walls. I might have thrown a full basket of laundry at the wall. (It didn’t hit anyone. No one even saw me do it. I just think you should know what kind of woman I’d become.)

It might be a challenge to fit in runs by myself, but it’s a true hardship to live with me if I haven’t run in a month. Just ask my husband. (He won’t tell you, but you can ask him just for fun and watch his face as he struggles to say kind and lovely things about his non-running wife.)

Running (especially running alone) restores me. It gives me an outlet for frustration and makes bitter feelings melt away. I sweat out negative feelings and inhale joy. I listen to whatever I want on my iPod, and no one interrupts me. When I come back from my run, I feel like a new person…strong, relaxed, capable of handling whatever comes up.

I’m also just a lot nicer than I was before I left.

So, to restore George’s quality of life (and to avoid scarring my children forever with my irritable outbursts), I have put a training plan on the refrigerator and started running again.

Did I mention I am supposed to be training for a half-marathon in November? Yeah. I am. This one.

This will obviously not be my highest-mileage training ever for this distance. It’s okay. I’m not expecting to PR. If I can make it to the starting line uninjured and strong enough to drag myself over the finish line at the end, it will be just fine.

After all, once I get there, all I have to do for the next 2 1/2 to 3 hours is just run. Alone.

Bliss.

And they will give me a medal for it.

Of all the things I do on a daily basis that might possibly deserve a medal, I’m not sure that running another half-marathon is the most worthy accomplishment…but I’ll take it. I’m also excited that someone is going to hand me food and a drink, and that I will get to consume them by myself (without breaking the bagel into chunks to share or smooshing the banana into baby-appropriate pieces).

My intent is to keep you all updated on how training is going. So far, I’m a bit behind where I’d like to be, courtesy of my unintentional month off. George (the seasoned runner and amateur distance coach) assures me that I can catch up. This week, I’m doing my runs on intervals (3 minutes running, 1 minute walking) to get back into the swing of things. We’ll see how things are going at the end of the week.

For now, I’m feeling really grateful to be back out with my running shoes on.
I’m certain the rest of my family is grateful, too.