I know better! I know better! I know better! The quickest way to be defeated in any activity for me is to go in hungry. So, yesterday, when I decided to just up and run in the middle of the day, I should have taken stock. I should have remembered that since I had not run or biked that morning, I was eating lighter. I should have remembered that there are no easy runs. There are runs that are fun, that make you feel like a superstar, hot runs, shitty runs, runs where you feel like you are going to die, fast runs, slow runs, sweaty runs for sure, but no easy runs. At least not for me.
But, in my defense, I didn’t even realize that I was hungry until I pulled into the parking lot. Besides, I was only going to do a short three mile run. Arrogance!!!! Mistake number two: doing six miles the day before does not guarantee that I will be able to do half a mile the next day. This is my mantra: never assume, never take it for granted. Don’t get cocky. I got cocky. Three miles: pfft! More like, fizzle. So why didn’t I just turn around when I got to the track? Go home, grab a bar and then go back? Mostly because my local track was occupied with fall sports already, so I had driven an extra ten or fifteen minutes to get to my old neighborhood track.
Mistake number three, don’t run when you really have to pee. Especially if you are forty seven years old and popped out some big babies. No, I did not wet myself, but there is little more distracting then thinking, Lord I could really use a bathroom! You start to wonder if it can sweat out through your bladder. The good news is, hunger will distract you from your bladder, at least mine does. By the end of the first mile I was just too depleted to remember I even had a bladder.
Then, of course, it might be a good idea to know the purpose of the run. I know, for me that sounds crazy, but I have been doing all this reading about recovery runs and drills to increase speed, so they were rolling around in my brain as I drove to the track. I knew going that I was only planning on three miles. I had both of my children with me, I was on a clock for sure. In the two previous days I had cycled or run for a combined total of twenty five and a half miles. For me, this is a good distance. So, the whole reason I hadn’t run earlier in the day was simple tiredness. I woke and just felt as though, today, I needed some sleep. It was an unplanned day off, something I fight all the time. I do try to listen to my body, but I have to be careful my lazy ass isn’t taking over the conversation. It is hard to listen to your body sometimes when you feel you need to be on alert for this. Anyway, I was thinking that I would do a recovery run. Buuut, I had also been emailing back and forth with my nephew about signing up for another race, a duathlon. So, I was also thinking about speed drills. Something I am having trouble wrapping my mind around, really. Both of these were competing in my head.
Man was my stomach talking when I got to the track. I was suddenly starving, not just mildly hungry but famished!!!! Okay, recovery run it is. Once around the track and I start running. I have been working on getting below a 10:18 mile, so I guess that meant I should be doing around an 11 minute mile. I’m not exactly sure how these recovery runs are supposed to work, but that seemed right. Except when I looked at my phone, I was doing about a 9 minute mile. Okay, well then maybe this will be speed work. After all, it was a flat run, so it might be a good idea and it seemed like what my legs wanted to do. And then I looked again, a 12 minute mile, back to recovery run. Watching my fourteen year old son, who hadn’t run in at least three months circle the track effortlessly helped to keep me going. Shit, my legs were tired. And then just like that, I was done. I forced myself to do the extra two tenths to make it to the two and a half mile mark and stopped. It was only two more times around the track to make the goal of three miles. But no amount of mind games was going to get me there. I was done. I was even okay with it. Crazy right?
Every run is an adventure in self discovery. Every day is different. Can I do this again? Can I do it faster? Can I run longer? And, on some days, the answer is going to be no. And I just have to respect that and use it as motivation to get back out there and change the no to a yes. I have to respect the run.