Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When Running Hurts


I think by now I've established that runners are crazy.

And I mean that they're crazy in every sense that one can be crazy.  Crazy like Beyonce is crazy in love.  Crazy like shorts in a snow storm.  Crazy like drinking water at an open bar.  All of the crazies, all rolled into one.

But knowing that I'm a runner and therefore crazy doesn't make it any easier.  Knowing that being upset after my long run this weekend was crazy didn't make me any less upset.  When you're crazy, you have no problem ignoring that you're crazy.

I've mentioned that I'm training for the Boston Marathon in April, and last weekend I finished my last really long run before the race.

If you're not a runner, you might think that the crazy part is that I ran 20 miles.  But that's not it; the crazy part is how upset I was after the run.

When I stopped my watch at 20 miles, there were no endorphins.  All there was was a blinking "average pace" on my watch that was slow.  Specifically, it was 45 seconds slower per mile than what I was running my 20-milers before my last marathon, but it required twice the effort.

It was crazy because I knew that I did not deserve to be running as fast as I had during my last training period.  They say to never start training for a marathon until you've forgotten your last one.  On the first day of Boston training, the exhaustion that goes into a 3:06 marathon was far from a memory.  Then there was the fact that it has been below zero in Chicago a record breaking 23 times this winter, and we've gotten 80 inches of snow (which is only the third most in Chicago history though, so no big deal).

They (presumably the same "they" who say stuff about marathons) also say that you have a finite amount of willpower.  And this winter, I used it all getting out the door most days.  Meaning I didn't have any left to push myself with speed work or log the miles I did last summer.  Truthfully, I had long ago committed myself to the bare minimum that would get me through the marathon without stopping.

But training to run a marathon is a lot different than training to race a marathon.  Last summer, I was training to race.  This winter, I was training to finish.  And my pace showed that.

The thing that I might love most about running is that you get exactly what you put into it.  Unlike most other sports, there are no shortcuts or flukes.  To be good without taking steroids, you just need to do the work and you need to do it consistently.  And if you do, most of the time you will reap exactly what you sow.

But when you're running slow, you also know that you have no one to blame but yourself.  The reason I was running at such a slower pace was simply because I haven't put the effort in.  I know that, which is why it is so disappointing and frustrating; it's because I am disappointed and frustrated with myself.

Sometimes people will tell me that I should just be proud that I finished.  Or someone will say that even though my pace isn't my best, it's still fast and I should be happy with it.  And while that's a good thought, when you're competitive (like most runners are), you know that no matter how fast your pace or how long you run, you will always be disappointed if you think you could do better.  Why?  Because with most runners, their biggest competitor is themselves.

When I told this to Derrick, he told me not to be so hard on myself.  To just enjoy the experience of Boston and know that I wasn't setting out to break any records.  I hear what he's saying and am glad to have his voice of reason, but I know that it's going to be hard to see all of those people at Boston enjoying the success that they have earned... without being one of them.

But as much as I'd like to forget this run, I'm not going to.  I'm going to hold onto this feeling until the summer, and then use it as that final push to eventually break 3 hours.

And in the meantime, I'm going to eat a post 20-miler cupcake.  Because even if my run was slow, the up-side is that calories don't care.  They're happy being burned at any pace.  And if you're going to be crazy, you might as well do it eating cake.

Happy Tuesday.  It's like Monday, only better.
For reading today, I've transferred some of my burned calories to you.  Eat a cupcake to celebrate!

Crazy In Love ft. Jay-Z by Beyoncé on Grooveshark

Also, I've been nominated for the Salty Running March Madness Women's Running Blog Tournament!  I'm an underdog but in a world where Dayton's in the Sweet 16 and Mercer knocked out Duke, anything can happen.

So if you like me, go over there and vote for me.  And if you don't, I'm retracting your cupcake.  So maybe rethink that.


Want more tea? Have a second cup!
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1 comment:

  1. I don't know why but I get the sense that you might be crazy even if you weren't a runner.

    ReplyDelete