Yesterday was one of those days that no matter the amount of coffee, I just couldn’t stop yawning. I got on the train to go home after work and was asleep before it even left the station. I woke up in time to make my stop, but as I prepared to exit the train, I was still in a cloudy haze.
As I walked home feeling like I was exhausting all of my energy just to walk those eight or nine blocks, I immediately starting talking myself out of doing my run.
I ate a few crackers to get some carbs flowing through my body and felt a little more awake, but not prepared to run five miles. But I forced myself to go, kicking and screaming. I was so pathetic, I decided it would exhaust too much energy to run with music. There’s always the whole subconscious attempts to keep pace with the beat of the music, or the chore of skipping songs I’m not in the mood to hear, or the suffering through songs I’m too lazy to turn off. I wanted no part of any of it. I just wanted to go out and get it over with. I decided to listen to a This American Life podcast and do something resembling a run without breaking a sweat.
The first two miles were spent concentrating on how far I was away from the wildlife refuge south of my house. My five mile runs are generally a three-mile round trip to and from the refuge area where I get in an additional two miles. Those two miles are always the most enjoyable, so the goal in the beginning of a five-mile run is just to make it there.
Once I arrived to the refuge area, I started making my way through the circular paths and realized I was warmed up and was in my “zone.” At this point, it was like I put my body on auto pilot. I was really into the podcast, my body was pain free, and I was running in a natural but methodical pace. Then I got that feeling that if I kept myself inside this zone, I could keep running for a while.
I was feeling so good, and awake (finally!) that I did an extra loop through one section of the refuge, then I took a five block detour back to my house, and ended up with a six-mile run. This after deciding when I left the house that I wouldn’t beat myself up if I ended up doing only four miles.
After my run, I was stretching and feeling pretty proud of myself. I was also surprised when I looked at my workout stats on my RunKeeper app. I ran those six miles with an average pace that was 30 seconds less than my norm. There’s something about that “zone” that always makes me think I am running slower than I am because it’s so comfortable.
I think my lesson here was that I’ve never once finished a run or workout thinking, “yeah, I totally should have talked myself out of that one.” The runs which I have to force myself to do are usually the most gratifying. It’s important to always keep in mind that starting is the hardest part. But the moment I take that first step, the hardest part is done. Then I can look forward to that accomplished feeling I’m sure to have in the end.