Before I celebrate my running victory today, a small confession: the Holiday Fitness Streak has come to an end. Last night (Friday), I came home from work and really wanted to go out to dinner. We tried a new restaurants (a local supper club), and the food was great. Our meal lasted almost two hours though, because the service was slow and we were seated next to a giant party. When we got home, I thought about the streak and just didn’t care. I’m not too bent out of shape about it.
I knew I had to run today, though. I got my first two issues of Runner’s World this week, and I’ve been reading them cover to cover. I don’t know much about running other than what some friends have told me and what I’ve read on Runs for Cookies. What I’ve been reading has been making me think about how I structure my running. I’m not too anxious to get into a routine of tempo, easy, interval, and long runs yet because I’m still building up my endurance, but one idea I latched onto was that I was supposed to aim for a long run that’s 2-3 miles longer than the longest race I run. Right now, I only run 5K’s, so I need to be able to run 5-6 miles on my weekend long run. If I’m cautious and increase my mileage by about 10-20% per week, I can get there by the end of 2013!
Last week, my longest run was 3.5 miles. Increasing my mileage by 15% would bring me to 4 miles. So today, I set out to run four miles. When I woke up, I was very intimidated.
I dressed in the same gear from my last run (well, clean versions of that gear) and set off. The first mile felt terrible. My legs were heavy, the air was super cold so it was hard to breath, and I wasn’t enjoying myself. I told myself I could walk after a mile. When I was about 3/4 of the way around the block, I took an unplanned turn into an adjacent neighborhood. A few seconds later Nike+ told me that I had run the first mile in 12:04—my fastest mile ever! After that, every time I felt like stopping, I just turned farther away from home.
A few minutes later I saw our mail woman. I seem to see her every time I run on Saturdays (sometimes two or three times in one day). She gave me a big smile and waved. I turned further away from home. Today’s run really made me realize that I can do this. My body might hurt, it might be cold, and I might feel like stopping, but physically I can keep running. When I got home I read this in Runner’s World:
Mental toughness is built by doing something that is hard over and over again, especially when you don’t feel like doing it. Our society has conditioned us to believe that there should be no discomfort, to stop when we are uncomfortable. But the discomfort we feel when we’re doing a challenging workout us an important part of the strengthening process. Push through your down days when you’re not feeling your best (unless, of course, you are injured or ill). Dogged determination requires keeping your feet moving forward through the inconveniences, discomfort, and insecurities to reach your goal.
I’m becoming mentally tough. And that’s so awesome.
I passed a neighbor putting up a Griswold-esque Christmas display (and actually had a brief conversation while running for the first time), and then turned towards home. I checked my phone and realized I probably wouldn’t hit four miles, so I took another turn away from home right when I was at the point where I was reaching “uncharted territory” – longer than I had ever run before. That turned out to be an almost perfect distance, and I did it! Here’s how I felt after hitting the four mile mark.
I’m starting to think of a goal for 2014 mileage, since I’m apparently a runner now. Right now I’m running 10 miles per week. Ideally, I think I’d like to be running 3-4 miles two or three times a week, and 6 miles once per week. I suppose I might make more ambitious weekly goals once it’s nice outside. Is 600 miles for my first year of running too conservative?
I also want to run in Vienna, Prague, and Paris while on vacation next year. That should be fun.