Thursday, February 12, 2009

Listen to your body, not necessarily your mind...

I am not always the most motivated of runners. My number one bad habit is skipping a few days of running, and then paying for it dearly once I start back up again. My friend M who is running the marathon with me in May, likes to keep a day or so in between runs because she feels that her legs are fresher and she gets more out of each run that way. As for me, I would love to be able to do that, but taking even one day off is just such a slippery slope for me.

On Sunday, I ran my 12 miles and was feeling fabulous about it. I finally felt like I was getting into the habit of being the runner that I want to be in 2009 -consistent. So Monday came and I was scheduled for a rest day, that I had no problem taking, then Tuesday came which was my birthday!

Tuesday - Happy Birthday!
I had a good solo evening planning for myself on Tuesday, my bf had a night class and I was just going to do an 8 mile tempo run and then come home to study for my life insurance exam (that is getting closer and closer....) and basically just have a chill evening alone for the most part. I was kind of upset that I would be spending my birthday alone, but it was a Tuesday night and just another day.

So all day my mom was texting me happy bday messages, and kept insisting that I call her before I left work, which I thought strange. I kept telling her that I would be fine, after all I have been making it home on my own from work for a pretty long time now (I'm all growed up!). I thought maybe she was going to send me flowers, and she wanted to hear how they looked after they got here, even though I would obviously call her if I did get flowers, without her having to tell me anyways, it was sketch.

Finally, it was closing time and she had sent me yet another text saying to "call me asap." Now, she had me worried. My mom is recently divorced and lives on her own, and has also just started going to the gym on her own after work, so there is no telling what could have gone wrong. Let me also add that she lives three hours away from me. So I call her.

Me: "What's going on?!"
Mom: "Oh nothing, just wanted to find out where I should take my baby out to dinner for her birthday in Charleston!"
Me: "You're not in Charleson."
Mom: Sqeals of happy laughter.
Me, thinking: This is going to mess up my training schedule! (But I don't really want to run anyways....) But this is awesome! My moms the best! FREE FOOD!

So she had surprised me, and they all (all being her and the bf) had lied to me all week, making me think I was going to be all alone on my birthday. It worked!

Basically, my mom is the best and drove all the way down here to surprise me for my birthday and take me out to dinner, which was fantastic! But of course, I missed my run Tuesday night.

Wednesday - Get Your Coach Potato On/Your Remote Ready
Enter Wednesday. I am sluggish from eating (way) too much Yo Burrito and Dos Equis at my bday dinner the night before, and I cannot concentrate on work. Plus I didn't get enough sleep because the old people in our building who centrally-control when the A/C is turned on, didn't have the A/C on so I sweat like a pig all night and kept tossing and turning (yay South Carolina sunshine!). Add on to all of this, that when I get home last night I know that the bf will be at another night class and I have the apartment ALL to myself, with a partially eaten bag of Cheddar Sun Chips...and you guessed it, I sat in front of the TV on my couch eating Sun Chips instead of running...and I enjoyed ever minute of it.

But I was pretty miserable come bed time and I had eaten, let's just say, way too much food that will go unmentioned lest you all think I am a fat pig. (I really like food, and that's probably why I like running so much because it enables me to eat food. A lot of food.)

Thursday - Sunshine and Butterflies!
Because I didn't run Monday, Tuesday OR Wednesday, I knew I had to get up and run this morning. I knew if I didn't get up this morning and go, I might not do it tonight as I have a meeting right after work.

So I got my happy self up at 6 AM and ran for 70 minutes at a very slow pace, because of course, I felt entirely crappy from having three glutton filled days off from running. While I was running, I was thinking about my training so far and what I had learned from it, and one central theme was running through my mind:

"I have learned to listen to my body, and not always my mind."

But what is that you say? Distance running is all about the mind? Well, not necessarily. Like I said before, when I miss a few days of running it is harder and harder for me to get back into it. If I listen to my mind, I can find one million excuses to not go out on a run. But then I think about how my body feels, and I realize that I just have to go out running to feel better. When I don't run my energy levels are low, low and lower, I feel fatter than I really am, my mind is not as sharp, I cannot concentrate at work and don't get as much done, and I'm generally just a more angry and annoying person to be around.

Another aspect of this realization is put in place after I have set out on a run. I used to always start out each run a little faster than I should, because it felt okay, and I wanted to hurry up and get it done with. Most of the time I would just crash and burn mid-run and end up either taking walk breaks, or cutting the run short altogether.

Recently, I have purposefully started out each run slower than I wanted to/could and in the last few miles I was easily able to turn up the pace considerably. My mind has been WRECKING my runs in the past, with all of these thoughts rolling around in there about how much this sucked, or how I had things to do other than running, how my legs hurt, how I just wanted to be anywhere but here....and I ended up running too fast and burning out too soon. I don't think I have realized that until now.

So I have learned to surrender to my body, and I listen to what it tells me now. It tells me to take it easy on myself when I haven't run, to let my body warm up and cool down, and to just chill out and enjoy it.

My run this morning was no where near quick. I think my average pace was even over a 10 minute mile, which is never somthing I let myself do. But if I had stuck to my plan of doing an 8 mile tempo run, I would have burnt out somewhere around mile three and limped home with my tail between my legs. (Or even worse, had a repeat of last week's puke session.) But instead I enjoyed the early morning air, relished the sunrise over the harbor, and didn't constantly check my pace on the Garmin. I just let myself run.

I think this is what has hindered me from being consistent in the past, and if I can stick to one thing in 2009 I hope this is it. I keep wondering what my marathon time will be, if I will be able to keep up with M, or if she will just smoke me. Now I know that I am not going to let msyelf worry about that. If I can just remain consistent, that is all I ask for. I know that everything past that will then fall into place.


  1. Nice job getting out there this morning and listening to your body. I definitely agree that for me, tuning out my mind is often more helpful (when going distance) than trying to manipulate it-- my mind is just too negative and fearful sometimes!

    Oh, and what a sweet, sweet mom and boyfriend you have! I'm glad you didn't have to spend your bday evening alone.

  2. Sometimes you just have to park you brain and let your body drive for a while even leaving the Garmin at home on occasion!

    Happy Birthday [iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii]

  3. tfh-Yes, tuning out your mind sometimes is all you need to get through it almost painlessly! :) And yes, I am very lucky to have great people in my life. :)

    Stuart- Agreed! Thanks for the candles!