Wake Up!

Can you blame me for wanting to stop?
Can you blame me for wanting to stop?

flickr photo by jasmin0916

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Pick the next marathon to train for, look at the mileage buildup log I used for the last marathon I ran, and then backtime it to the present to figure out how far I should be running each day. Sounds like a sensible plan, doesn’t it? And the added bonus-this first week was a low mileage week, so I could ease into the schedule. What could be better?

I’m still convinced it’s a good idea, but my last long run, Sunday’s 14 miler almost changed my mind. It turns out I may not have had enough of a good mileage foundation built up before running this distance. I was actually doing great; my breathing was good, I was taking in enough water and fueled up with a GU at just the right time, and I felt strong. I was even doing well running in the morning sun which has of late been quite toasty around these parts. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I felt like I just wanted to stop. I don’t quite know what happened. I felt physically alert and awake, but my mind suddenly felt tired as if it had just then realized I didn’t get a good night’s sleep (which was true). This was clearly one of those mind versus body moments which come up during long runs when my mind seeks to overrule the evidence mybody is providing. Although I may feel strong pounding out the miles and there’s no doubt I’m also feeling a little beaten up and fatigued, I know I’ve trained for this distance and can finish it. But just then, my mind makes its presence felt and seemingly amplifies my fatigue. For a few long moments my breathing is more labored, my legs are more leaden, and overall I feel beat up. Now I’m in danger of slowing down and stopping which, to me, undercuts my training.

There I was about to let my mind get the better of me when I simply decided to slow down a bit. I’m not the fastest runner by any means, but I slowed down to a comfortable pace allowing me to get my breathing and gait back into a nice rhythm while giving my mind a chance to adjust before I picked up my pace again. After a few minutes I was back on track and able to finish my run.

It’s a funny thing the whole mind/body duality, but I enjoy the fact running and training are not just physical acts and you end up using your mind for much more than simply calculating splits and goal paces.

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