March 12, 2013

Training Tuesday: A Throwback

Recently I've found myself chatting with friends more and more about that elusive moment when I transitioned from not liking running to truly enjoying it.  I'm not really sure when it happened, but I believe it was sometime last summer.  I was scanning my old blog and came upon this post from January 11th, 2011 (6 weeks before the 2011 Princess Half) and was intrigued.  It still rings least the comparison of aquatic to land species....

Saturday was a big day for me as it was a big milestone as I get closer to one of my thirty before thirty goals - the half marathon.  Saturday was my first 10 mile run.  It was a big deal in my mind - more than double the distance that I've ever run before I started training for the half, but I was ready.  I bought some new pants (aka compression tights) for these chilly winter runs (it was about freezing on Saturday morning with ice still on the roads...brrrr) and got myself a training belt, equipped with two small water bottles to help fight dehydration while away from home.  I even brought my cell phone after a friend recommended that I bring it when I run alone and especially for long distances.  I looked like a real pro and was ready to conquer my longest distance yet...or so I thought.

I am certainly not a runner by birth - I am more of an aquatic species than a land species.  I was a swimmer in high school and college, aptly called  a "wethead" during my college days.  I was comfortable in a speedo in front of hundreds of people; I was used to waking up at ungodly hours to punish my mind and body; I know what it's like to have lycra eat the skin on your neck (we called that a "suit hickey"); and I know the best shampoos for avoiding the green tint in your hair.  I was used to muscle-numbing practices where you swam endless laps only to find you'd barely made your interval and had exactly 2 seconds of rest before your next set.  It was brutal, but it was my way of life.  I think at one point, I swam 11 miles in one day during one particular hell week (the grueling training period between Christmas and New Years - a tradition for my year-'round team while I was in high school).  Yes, that's right - 11 miles.  That's 17,600 yards and 704 laps for those interested in the computation.  Brutal.  Insane.  Ouch.  Those are the words that come to mind. 

While I could, at one time (very far in the rear view mirror) swim 10+ miles, I found myself doubting my physical capacity around mile 2 of my run on Saturday.  If I was in the pool, I would have been more stable; my capabilities were tested and verified week after week.  But out on the open road, not so much.  I longed to turn around and just go home and try again on Sunday.  I wanted to walk the entire 10 miles.  Every 10 seconds, I was negotiating with myself.  It was terrible.  After about 3.5 miles, I flipped thru my shuffle to find a great song to psych myself up.  I found one - Check it out by and Nicki Minaj.  I cranked up the volume and tried to lose myself in a good jam.  No matter how many things I thought about - my upcoming work trip, the actual race, my dear friend J who just ran a full marathon in Philly, this blog post, the snack I would eat post-run, rugs I liked for my living room  - I couldn't lose myself in the rhythm of my stride or a song.  I think a few times I yelled at myself (yes, out loud) to try to find a rhythm or find some inspiration to meld mind and body.  No dice.  Around mile 5, I hit a decent stride for a mile or two.  Once I spotted the 7-11 that marks the turn to the homestretch, I practically sprinted the last 2 miles, somehow trying to make up for my lackluster start.  But who am I kidding, I was trying to finish in a respectable time and not look like a sluggish fool while I jogged down the main road that takes me home.  The entire hour and 40 minutes was a struggle. 

Above all else, it was a mental challenge and I was prepared for a physical challenge on this particular Saturday.  I even had the pricey gear to prove it.  I found myself wondering what the heck I was doing, questioning my physical and mental ardor for this race and vehemently conceding that I was no runner. 

Sweaty, red-faced, aching and relieved.
Mmm Gatorade...
Even back at home, I was still beating myself up.  I'm not used to fighting my psyche for that long.  But after I stretched and took a 40 minute (no kidding) steaming hot shower, I felt a bit more limber and was able to reflect a bit more positively on the run.  While it didn't feel like it, I triumphed.  I beat myself at my own silly mind games.  It was an ugly battle, but I know I can do it.

I'll try the 10 miler again this Saturday, hopefully with a bit more ease on both the mental and physical front.  As my swim coach, Mike, used to remind us frequently, that which does not kill you, makes you stronger (he was a big Nietzsche fan...probably fan of the Evil Empire too, given the torture we endured in the pool).  While I hope to whittle my waistline and get in great shape in this process, I think deep down that my mind will be the stronger part of me in the end.

Are you a running convert?  Ever hated a training run?  How did you get through it?


  1. Yes! I have hated many a training run. A few races too where I just keep thinking "this is so stupid. why?" I've finally pushed past most of that- but it took a while!

  2. I think this is true with so many people! I love running but I don't always enjoy it if that makes sense! lol Great post!

  3. I thought that right about the 6 mile mark at last year's Wine and Dine when the knee pain started and I almost ran into the millionth person walking. Then I hit the entrance by DHS with the Lululemon group with the great signs and the awesome cheering, and knew it was almost over. Now I'm counting down the minutes until this year's registration opens at noon. See you ladies there!!!!