Saturday, July 17, 2010
a lot of things need to come together when you are training. i don't think it really matters what you are training for, but there's a few simple elements that i thought of on my run today that help to make it a rewarding experience.
i've really felt myself getting physically stronger the last few weeks. although i sometimes have the feeling of being somewhat slow, i look down at my watch at certain points and see that i am as fast or faster on the same routes than i was last Fall. things just feel easier, too. i don't feel like my head is going to pop off on a climb because now my blood pressure and heart rate seem more controlled. i have a sense of floating down the trails on the descents. one of my dogs kept hitting my feet as i was running down the trail today (annoying), but i felt like it was just a challenge of balance to keep on the trail and not lose my footing.
while my physical strength seems to keep building, it's sometimes hard to stay mentally motivated to run. the more miles i put in in a week, the more they seem to drain me mentally. i called a friend of mine in Idaho, one whom i like to call my "unofficial life coach", who has done quite a bit of run coaching. i was planning on running a night-time 50k race last night, and i was almost at the point of tears because of the pressure i had put on myself to run it. i called her to confirm the fact that i was not whimping out on not doing this run, but was in fact, listening to my brain to avoid mental burnout, much as we listen to our bodies to avoid physical over-training.
there have been signs that i am headed towards mental strain because of the number of miles i've been putting in: the same trails don't quite have the magic that they did a couple of months ago. there are more people out on the trails now, so i don't have as much of a sense of peace and solitude as i did earlier this season. i find myself pouring over the maps at home in the evenings trying to figure out routes that will be dog friendly and not as popular to the general public. a point that i forgot to do when prepping for today's run: i drove up to one of my favorite trailheads today, a Saturday, at 10am. when will i ever learn that i can't do this. it's the second Saturday that i've driven up to do my easy inspirational run with the dogs to their favorite swimming hole, and the cars... oh, the cars. people were parked on the sides of the road a mile down canyon from the trailhead because the parking lots were full. i didn't even bother to look for a spot to park, but instead drove back down canyon to one of my back up inspo trails. thankfully, the spring was still flowing so the dogs had water on the run, because it's been getting really hot lately. today, when i found myself feeling icky, i physically put a smile on my face. do you know what happened? i felt better. i was forcing myself to smile, yet on some molecular level, the run got easier, more enjoyable, and my stomach ache went away. it works.
getting out the door
seriously, sometimes do you wonder if you are ever going to get out the door? it would be so easy to just sit around in the air conditioned house and sip coffee and watch the Tour de France all day long, wouldn't it? and it seems that the farther i run, the longer it takes me to get warmed up once i do hit the trail. on average, it takes 45 minutes to almost an hour to get warmed up and feel like i can actually run. and i love running! but honestly, some mornings my legs just feel like they are made out of lead. as i gather up my running garb, the dogs start getting excited and prancing around and that really does help me to get out the door. but i can't take them every day. so if i leave them behind, there is a certain amount of heartbreak involved (but always a welcome greeting when i get home). they really do help me get out the door much of the time.
the big picture
i find myself daydreaming... of the finish. that uplifting feeling of "yeah, i can DO this" and the mental image of "yeah, i DID it". people call me crazy for training for this race. seriously, do they think they are motivating me? i think in their own way they are impressed and that is how they show it, by saying that they could never imagine running as far or for as long a time as that. but it's hard not to let it be defeating, too. i've told a couple of my friends i don't want them to say that to me. others i just smile at them and say, "no, i'm not." if they tell me i'm crazy, i just think to myself, "no, i'm alive." i've never felt more alive than when i am doing all of this crazy running. so, in my head when they say crazy, i hear alive. i turn something that could be construed as negative into something very positive. i try to just think of that picture in my head... crossing the finish line... and that feeling, of how good it will feel when it's all said and done, recorded in the books of epic adventure, and i think of all the friends who helped me to get there.
another friend of mine wrote recently about perspective. it really is all about perspective, isn't it? even if you can't run a hundred miles, the journey is in setting a goal and attaining it. if it's not fun, if it's not a challenge, if it's not rewarding, then why bother? this friend of mine has been having a lot of problems with his back and hasn't been able to run like he previously could. he went out and was able to run 4 miles one day a few weeks ago, and then waited for the back pain that never came. he was grateful. it brings tears to my eyes to think of how wonderful he must have felt to experience that joy of just being out there again after not being able to do one of the things that he loves for months on end, and to do it pain free. as i try to get out the door, try to stay motivated, try to keep my mental and physical strength in check without feeling burned out, i think of perspective. how lucky am i that i can get out and run in these beautiful mountains with my dogs and friends nearly every day? how lucky? sometimes i think luck has everything and nothing at all to do with it.