I celebrated my 32nd birthday last Monday, and I headed into last week believing that it would be a relatively light week because Tri-C was on spring break. I had visions of writing up several non-training related blogs and catching up on other work that needs to be addressed at my other job as well.
Man, was I wrong. Last week turned out to be one of the busiest weeks in months.
For decades (I can say that now because I’m well into my 30s, right?), I allowed fitness to fall by the wayside on these types of weeks. Fortunately, though, those days are over. Although I was tempted to take a mulligan on my training plan multiple times, I powered forward with each of my runs and cross-training walks. I’m glad that I did, even though some of them were among the most difficult runs that I’ve had in recent months.
Tuesday’s run was absolutely brutal. I had a very small window of time in which to fit in my run and the weather was probably warmer down in Antarctica than it was in Cleveland. Unless I’m racing, I really don’t like running with time constraints because I feel like I have to rush to get it done. This leads me to expend too much of my energy early in the run and results in a tough last few miles. Perhaps something was in the nation’s water supply this week, because I saw many runners on Twitter from all over America who said that their training runs were difficult as well!
I felt like I was going through the motions on Thursday’s 3.5 miler. The run wasn’t hard, but the run wasn’t easy either, and the only reason that this run was noteworthy is because I can’t think of one memorable positive or negative thing to say about it.
My long run of the week was scheduled for Sunday. Sheila is half Irish, and we had a St. Patrick’s Day gathering at our house on the books for early evening.
One of the aforementioned “commitments” that I had allowed to fall by the wayside during the week were the dirty dishes in the sink, and I was more than ready to take Sheila up her on suggestion that we eat out for lunch on Sunday because I knew that I’d be doing a lot of dishes on Sunday after our party. In a major lapse of judgment, I suggested that we should grab Taco Bell after church because I wanted to try out the new Doritos Locos Taco. (One of the many benefits of running so much is that I can eat food like this and actually enjoy it in a guilt-free manner!)
While I enjoyed my Cantina Burrito and Doritos Locos Taco, I don’t think that either of them digested one bit in my stomach by the time 4:45 rolled around and I had to head out for my 5 miler in order to ensure that I’d be able to finish and shower before our guests arrived.
At the risk of sounding flippant, the only bad thing that didn’t happen on this run was an injury.
Despite going on a warmup walk with Butters right before I headed out to run, I had a lot of trouble getting going. Perhaps this was because I didn’t stretch sufficiently or perhaps this was because I had Taco Bell sitting like a rock in my stomach, but I didn’t feel the surge of invigoration at the start of the run that I often feel when I head out.
I finally hit my stride towards the end of the first mile, which is exactly when my Pandora station decided to stop working. I’m not sure if this was due to the fact that I was near downtown and many people were utilizing wireless networks during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but I ran without music for almost a mile. Fortunately, the stream returned at about mile 3 and kept me going all the way through mile 5.
When I first started out, the weather was pretty cold. Somewhere between miles 3 and 5, the weather warmed considerably and I felt myself becoming pretty overheated. I didn’t realize the extent to which I was overheated until I got home and I felt like I had just gone on a water ride!
The important thing, though, is that I powered through all of the distractions and frustrations and was able to finish out my 5 miles. Additionally, my new GPS watch worked like a charm!
Completely perfect runs are rare. There’s always something that goes wrong—sudden changes in weather, a crazy driver who blows through a stop sign, technological difficulties, injuries, and just about anything else. Heck, some runs can be complete exercises in drudgery in which putting one foot in front of the other is about as joyful as doing the dishes or ironing clothes.
How do you respond?
When the going gets tough, I encourage you to keep pushing forward. We don’t know what’ll happen on May 19th or 20th. Cleveland’s unpredictable weather can turn from beautiful to miserable in a split second. Our legs may give out far earlier than we expect. The possibilities are endless. If we develop the habit of quitting when we train, we’ll be unprepared to handle difficulties and we’ll quit on race day without a second thought. I can assure you that this will lead to nothing but regret once the pain wears away!
However, if we develop the habit of persevering when we’re tempted to quit, we’ll power through everything standing between us and the finish line in May. The pain that we feel now will lead to a glorious day on the shores of Lake Erie, and I hope that all of you keep steadily putting one foot in front of the other each and every day of your training even when you feel like you’d rather be doing anything else besides training.