Stepping it up

Today was a good day to practice layering for a run, as well as to practice a little self-psychology and for me, the inevitable self-diagnosis.

After dropping off my car for a little ding repair (can’t blame this one on the kids), I opted to run home. It’s just a few miles, pretty straight and barely a hill you can’t see over. The weather started in the 30s, but after a half-mile or so I peeled off the outer layer and gloves, down to powerstretch (LOVE this jacket!) and tights.

It’s been a while since I’d run alongside traffic, and I was instantly reminded of why I avoid that. Exhaust fumes. Uneven pavement. People trying to pull out of driveways so they don’t have to wait for me to run by first (hey, I’m not THAT slow!). But it’s time to get my head out of the trees. I’ve signed up for a couple road races in the next few months and I need to focus, to get over it all, to put aside the pleasures of trail running and start thinking about mileage. Ugh.

Over the years I’ve learned that running is 90 percent mental and only about 10 percent physical.  OK, as I get older, it’s probably 75/25, but the head is really the part that counts.

offroad/trail running

VERSUS

I noticed that, starting out, my body’s on its best behavior, energetic, leaning forward and landing mid- to fore-foot. Hmm, I thought, how do those running stores evaluate your stride if this is all they see? I mean, I do most of my running (say, by mile 3 onward) more upright, midfoot and inevitably sloppier. I’d love for someone to tell me to buy *this magical brand of shoe* to correct my foot issues, but I wonder if it’s possible unless they want to hit the road with me and listen to my self-evaluation of the way my feet feel. Yeah, I didn’t think so. I mean, after mile 4 or so I was even sick of listening to myself about my feet, my hamstrings as tight as banjo strings, the growing pain in my left knee. Damn, if I really listened I’d quit running. My squirrel brain was going, “Is my toe pointing up again? I’m sure I can feel blisters forming on the little toe. Is there a wrinkle in my sock?” It’s like being trapped in hell with a neurotic Seinfeld on crack.

At least the voice no longer says “Don’t bother trying to get out to run today, you have too much to do.” Now it says, “This is probably the most important thing you’ll do all day.” That’s a nice change.

But that voice is just one of my problems. The other is that I run alone. I have my pace, and it hasn’t changed significantly in years. I think it’s a mathematical extrapolation of short legs and limited lung capacity. When I run in races I have to fight the desire to keep up with the gazelles, which leads to early flame-out and a humiliating walk back to the car, sometimes even heaving. It ain’t pretty. It’s one of the hardest things to do but a big part of why I race once in a while: it’s a test, a challenge to overcome. And yet I somehow believe I’ll run a little faster with the motivation of all of those other people around me.

Now I just have to double the miles I did today, and everything will be fine!

It’s spring (hasn’t this whole winter been spring?). For me, that’s running time. When I see all those people logging their miles for the Boston Marathon I get an undeniable urge to join them. Doing the Portsmouth NH half marathon in April and the Ragnar relay again in May (this one on flat Cape Cod rather than through unexpectedly hilly Connecticut!) should be manageable and yet still launch me into another great summer of biking, inline skating and … more running…

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One Response to “Stepping it up”

  1. Hello Ladies Says:

    Love this: “At least the voice no longer says “Don’t bother trying to get out to run today, you have too much to do.” Now it says, “This is probably the most important thing you’ll do all day.” That’s a nice change.”

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