I’ve been struggling with my running for awhile and couldn’t figure out what was bugging me for the life of me. I mean, seriously, I could not sort it out. Today I think I have.
I keep thinking I’ve been running for forever, but NO, it’s just now 4 months. 4 months? Really? That explains so much. I’m still a real beginner and my mind has conveniently forgotten that fact. I’m not at that true beginner place and I’m not at a true intermediate place, I suppose I’m a beginning runner who is now improving.
Today I went for a run on the Orting Trail, one of my favorite places in the whole world. I used to run there when I was in my 40’s, oh so long ago, when we used to live in WA state, obviously. It was really a wonderful run because I changed things up big time today.
But I must digress for a moment. First, 3 members of our little Albuquerque Trail Runners group are going to do the 5K or 10K Chunky Monkey race in mid July and I’ve decided I’m going to do what I need to do to make sure I’m home for that race. I think I’ll do the 5K but am open to the possibility of the 10K. I have about 10 weeks to train for it. I love that I have 10 whole weeks to train for it.
When I went out to run this morning, it was with the thought in mind of running 5 minutes/walking 1. I think that’s where I think I’ve been not-having-fun lately. I’m capable of running 3 miles straight but I don’t. I’m not sure why, but after my first 5K race in February, I think because it was kind of pretty darned hard, I wanted to roll back mentally and not work so hard. In the meantime I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since that race and running with less poundage=easier running but I’ve frankly been a little afraid to try harder.
Today I pitched that issue out the window and decided to flat-out do a 5K distance with no walking at all and just see how it felt. It felt good. Pure-D-good. It was a flat course, yes, and that made it easier, but hey, I want easier right now. I was able to see that since I’ve lost a few more sizes it really is easier to run and I think that in not trying to step up my game a bit, I never got the chance to see that. To be honest, I think I was just afraid and I’m not quite sure what it was that I was afraid of. Failure maybe.
Through the whole run I kept up a pace of around 11:40-11:50 which is a very nice improvement in pace over what I was running a few months ago. I finished the 5K distance in 36:35, a tad more than 4 minutes faster than my 5K race in February. To that, I say a big, WOO HOO! Better than a faster time is that I never felt like I was going to die. Never.
My speedy New Mexico running partner, Jamie, encouraged me to stop looking at the treadmill as a demon and to embrace the fact that it could help me learn what it feels like to run at a faster pace. So the past 2 weeks, while I was in a hotel in Michigan, I utilized the treadmill to do just that. I despised it at first and would jump off after a mile and run outside, but I forced myself to hang in there and to do a program of hills and to practice running at a 5:50 and even a 6:00 pace, which surprisingly, didn’t kill me. And I think I secretly thought that it might, deep down there in my brain. When I was running today, I tried to remember how it felt to run that fast and I practiced a quick foot turnover and tried hard to be consistent with it. It worked!
I have a belief that I’m slow and it’s a huge mental block for me. I think that in constantly thinking and saying out loud, “I’m slow”, that I’ve given myself permission to not even try. I don’t want that out anymore. I want to push past that unreasonable fear so that I can rise to be MY best as a runner. Now that I have a little glimpse of how it works, I get it, or at least I’m starting to get it. My perception of having to kill myself to run fast is erroneous. I simply need to try little things like speed work, hill work and keep up with the weight loss and over time it will happen. I believe it will happen naturally, yes, but I also believe I’m going to have to work to see improvement. And I’m ready to do that now.