My long run yesterday was fabulous! But it didn't start that way! I learned a valuable lesson during this trail run that will help me to complete my ultramarathon goal . I posted the details in the "Laughs" and "Learning" sections below. But first, I will start with the context
Length: 09.60 Miles / 2 Hours and 29 Minutes
My training plan called for a five mile run. I had already decided I was going to run the same loop that I ran naked on Saturday, partly so that I could measure the distance (I know, I'm sick!). From previous runs I estimated it was just over three miles. So if I ran the loop twice, I would get in about six miles, exceeding my distance goal for this run. I ran earlier in the morning than normal, so it was also cooler--about 86 degrees (yea, that's better!). I ended up running the loop three times for a total of about 9.6 miles. I will explain why I did the additional loop in the Laughs section below. First, here's a pic from the trail. Scroll down for the rest of the report.
My legs felt strong and rested, even through I ran the day before. In addition, my calf muscle seems to have healed. I don't remember it bothering me on my Saturday run. And it didn't bother me on this run until about the 8th mile. At that point it was just a slight irritation, but no pain. As I write this a day later, my calf muscle feels fine.
I had the normal coughing at the start of the run. I hope some day my lungs will finally heal from quitting smoking . For now I just accept it as my standard routine and know they will clear after the first couple of miles.
Laughs: Rough Start, Exceptional Ending
OK, this is where things go south. On the laughts (mental) side, I can honestly say I didn't really feel like running yesterday morning. I woke up early as planned, but I felt tired. I had my coffee as planned, but only one cup instead of two. I headed out as planned, but really wasn't that excited about it. But I went anyway.
My not so excited attitude was still with me when I started out on my trail run. I really didn't want to run. Maybe I was overtired, or maybe I am overtraining for my current level of fitness. I don't know, but I didn't want to run.
About a half-mile in I started looking for excuses to stop and head back to the Jeep. Just about that time I was passed by another runner. All that did was create more negative thoughts. I started questioning why I was out here. What was I thinking... like I can run an ultramarathon. I should stop kidding myself and just admit failure. I don't have what it takes. I don't have the talent that other people have, like the guy that just blew by me. I slowed my pace to a walk and sipped on some water. Feeling defeated I decided I would at least finish this loop and then head home and find somewhere to bury my head.
About 10 minutes later it happened again--I was passed by ANOTHER runner. That felt like an additional kick to my pride. Maybe someone was trying to tell me that I wasn't cut out for this--a sign from above or something like that. I decided it was time to quit. I slowed again to a walk (which wasn't much slower than my jogging speed!) and started thinking through the reasons why I needed to stop running for the day. I thought about my legs, but they were fine. My calf wasn't bothering me. My legs actually felt great, strong and rested. Nope, can't use that as an excuse. My lungs? Well, by this time they had cleared and I was breathing fine. How about an illness? Nope, not sick. No cold, no flu, no infections, 100% healthy. Can't use that one. What else. Maybe some chest pains? Nope. How about... nope, nope, nope. After walking and thinking about it for a few minutes I realized there was no physical reason why I couldn't put in my miles today.
And then it happened. As I was walking I thought about something I had read the night before
"You have not lived in the world of competitive
sport until you have fought a battle that is
not against an opponent, but against yourself.
Wow, what a paradigm shift. The problem I was having today was with my mind--it was a mental battle. I wasn't competing against the two guys that passed me on the trail. I was competing with myself. And I was just about ready to give up on my mental battle. But then it occurred to me that there is more to endurance training than training the body--that you must also train your mind. And that allowing my mind to win now would teach it the wrong message--that I can quit any time I didn't feel like running.
THAT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN.
So I took a deep breath and started running again. As I continued down the trail, I became more excited about what had just happened. I had experienced and overcome a mental "wall" of sorts and I pushed through the wall. I realized that I will have MANY walls in front of me on this journey, but this one I overcame. I was victorious.
By the time I returned to the Jeep I was PUMPED! I refilled my bottles, slammed back an e-Gel , and headed back down the trail. The second lap was totally different than the first. I felt like I was running at twice the speed (although looking at my stats, I was only slightly faster). I felt invincible. I felt like nothing could stop me from achieving my ultramarathon goal, or at least from finishing my run.
Then it happened...
I was passed by another runner. But this time it was a 70ish-year old lady! All I could do was laugh about it and keep running!
When I finished my second loop and arrived back at the Jeep I did a little more self talk. I told my brain that the next time it tried to convince me to stop running that I would punish it by going even further. And that's exactly what I did. I ran a third lap and loved it!
I thought about running a fourth lap but I could start to feel my calf muscle around mile eight. Now I had a legitimate reason to stop. I didn't want to injure myself and destroy my training efforts for the rest of the week. So I just took it slowly back to the end of the loop, stretched for a bit, and then headed for home.
Learning: It's Also About Mental Training
So what did I learn from this little adventure? Well, I already mentioned it above... that endurance training is more than physical and that you must train also your mind. As I said, I know I have MANY hurtles to overcome in the months ahead. But I will just take them one at a time and keep moving toward my goal. I know I'll get there.
Have you waged mental battles while running? What do you to do talk yourself down from the ledge?