What the Garmin doesn't show is how hard this particular run was yesterday. It also does not show how badly I wanted to stop and go home for almost the entire duration of three hours and twenty-three minutes.
How did I get through twenty miles if all I wanted to do was stop? My brain was on a loop that sort-of looked like this image:
I started the run with legs that weren't feeling 100% and a brain already in doubt. My hamstrings were tight and that only fueled the negative thoughts. Then my knees decided to get in on the party and they started hurting, too. This was at mile two. MILE TWO. Let that sink in for a minute. I had 18 more miles to go. 90% of the run was still in front of me. To say I was discouraged would be an incredible understatement.
Two things happened at that point:
1. I started making deals with myself. Here are a few of the negotiations I brokered for myself:
- If I just made it back to the entrance of my neighborhood (approximately a half mile away) I could re-evaluate and go home if I needed.
- If the light is green for me to run through the intersection at the entrance of my neighborhood, I'll go a little bit further and then turn around if I need to.
- I can turn around at the next major intersection.
- I can always call Uber for a taxi ride if I can't finish it and I'm too far away to walk it back.
- Just make it to the next walk break.
2. I remembered something Jeff Galloway told me during my running clinic with him back in 2012. When a run is feeling crappy, change the run/walk intervals. Drop down to 0:30/0:30 if necessary, but adjust the intervals to find a better pace/rhythm. AHA!!!
This light bulb moment happened at about mile 3 when I was ready to turn around for home and just push all the training back a week. My current run/walk intervals are 3:25/0:20. I started using 1:30/0:10. The run started feeling better. Not good, not even close to thinking I could finish all 20 miles, but a definite improvement. The other piece of this switch is that I didn't change my RunKeeper app timer, so I had to calculate the 1:30 increments in my head. This was an awesome distraction. I was so focused on that calculation and not going over the 0:10 walk breaks that the next 5 miles happened before I really thought about what was being done. I was still negotiating with my brain about when to turn around and I kept doing that until I reached the furthest part of my run.
When I reached the turn-around point I went into a QT to get water and take a bathroom break. When I bought the water, the clerk asked how many miles I was doing that day. I took a deep breath and said I was at mile 11 of 20. We chatted for a couple more seconds and then I refilled my water bottles and headed back out to go home. At that point, 20 miles was DEFINITELY happening and my brain shifted into a much more positive place. My legs still felt tight but I knew I was going to complete the run in its entirety.
Then, something happened. It all just felt good. My brain was working and clicking along, my legs finally felt okay and my pace was a little challenging but comfortable. I looked at my Garmin: 15.72. I was running at just over a 9 min/mi pace. I knew then that I wasn't just going to finish, I was going to finish these 20 miles - that at mile 2 I didn't think I could complete - feeling strong.
The upshot? Don't quit. Both of my tri coaches told me something that came back to me during the run, it doesn't feel good all the time. In fact, it will downright suck to push hard and make the improvements happen. But...YOU DO IT ANYWAY. I have many coaches in my life and they all had a role in my head yesterday. Some of them were gently nudging me, telling me that I can accomplish what I set my mind to, others were flat out screaming at me to get my ass in gear and make this all happen if it is what I really want.
I did. I listened. Then I thanked those people because they helped me conquer something I wasn't convinced I could overcome.