Monday, July 23, 2012

Releasing your crappy run...

As I mentioned in a previous post, there are times when I feel that running is just not my calling. Or perhaps the truth is I want to run but it's hard and I am just not good at it...and therefore should pick up a more suitable hobby like watching the sun move across the sky or reviewing the new flavors Pringles has come out with. Both of these sound like awesome endeavors which would require so much less physical and emotional exertion than running 13 miles on a ninety degree day.

Working from home and setting my own hours has given me the freedom to stay up late (thanks to the hubby's schedule) and in turn, wake up late. I'm not just means I am now too lazy to wake up at the crack of dawn to go running before the heat sets in. In admitting this I get to question my intention and commitment to running. I'm an over-analyzer...what can I say.

There was no escaping the heat this day.
Yesterday I drove to Benecia (about 30 miles west) in an attempt to escape the 100 degrees we were experiencing at home. I had two options...try to run my scheduled 14ish miles on a treadmill at the gym without losing my mind or sacrifice some gas money to drive to a more suitable (read: cooler) location. So, off to Benecia I went where the temperature at the start of my run was a pleasant 90 degrees. Just a little tip: when checking the Internet for current temperatures be sure to check more than one site, especially if it promises you that it will be a comfortable 20 degrees cooler with fabulous scenic vistas to make your long run the most fantastic run of your life.

Benecia State Recreation Area
Fortunately, the scenic vistas were pretty fabulous but it was hard to appreciate them through the sweat and later, the calf cramps. I tried to be careful and of course I listened to my body (watching for signs of heat exhaustion and also taking it easy) but at some point my desire for cold water over took all rational thinking and I found my lips almost permanently attached to the water fountain drinking more than I should at one time.

The Benecia Bridge, blackberries ripening and Mt. Diablo in the distance.
 I struggled through the last 5 miles...physically my calves were locking up, I was chafing in places I didn't know chafed (my belly-button?? that's new) and my feet were hurting (I had tried to run on the trail/gravel as much as possible which kinda tore up my tender nubbins) but emotionally I was suffering even more. First was the ridiculousness of having driven so far to run only to still be in the heat, then was the nagging Runkeeper voice that kept repeating my snail-like pace and saying things like 'obviously you must have meant to hit walk not run on the settings, you slow-ass idiot' and then I started wondering what had possessed me to sign up for another full marathon (the Half Moon Bay International Marathon on Sep 23). At mile eight I was wondering if I should drop down to the mile nine I really thought the 10K would be a better mile ten I contemplated 'retiring' from running starting that instant.

So here I am, a little sore with a bruised ego and yet still kinda proud I got my run in, even if it was slow and miserable. I realize I need more compassion in my life and that includes compassion for myself which is something that I read about last night.
"If we are willing to stand fully in our own shoes and never give up on ourselves, then we will be able to put ourselves in the shoes of others and never give up on them." ~Pema Chodron Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
I know this is deeper than running...but it still flipped a switch for me...that it is okay for me to have a bad run, feel a little sorry for myself, show myself some compassion but also to not give up. It's about being okay {a little bit} with the self-doubt, acknowledging that it is just a thought, the same as thinking the a flower is pretty or that a particular perfume smells bad. It doesn't identify me nor does it mean it's true so I can just let the thought go...just like the passing thoughts that cross your mind during meditation or yoga.
"Affirmations are like screaming that you're okay in order to overcome this whisper that you're not." ~Pema Chodron Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
This also rang true to me. After all, I've done the affirmation thing, I've spoken about my goals in the present tense and then I blogged about how we are always telling ourselves that we aren't good enough...and thanks to the whole self-help industry, apparently we never will be. But what if we take a softer approach, allow a moment to acknowledge the shitty feeling and then let it float away (like a fart in the wind). Then maybe we can get back to what we were doing...finishing that run, editing that blog post, submitting that article, applying for that job, etc.

As I sit here and nurse my sore legs (with a foam roller and stretching) I know that come September 23rd I'll be running my second full marathon having trained through the good runs and bad and that I will be proud of my accomplishment no matter what happens. This doesn't mean that I don't have a goal for this race but simply that this is a race a choose to run, a challenge I set for myself and that there is no pressure to define myself as a success or failure because of this event.

Cattails and Sunshine
It's like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders releasing myself from some of the expectations I placed there...that every  run should be fast and magnificent and that it all gets easier and fun over time (sorry but going for a two and a half hour long run at 90 degree by yourself may offer some nice alone time...or may drive you to delirium...either way you end up with a nausea hang-over while simultaneously feeling like you haven't eaten in 4 days). They are just long runs after all...running one mile and then another after that until you're done. But you can be certain that this will be my last full marathon. =)


  1. So proud of you! Not many people have the bravery to run in the heat (not me) :) I am such a chicken that 70* sunny is like 100* and I rather skip it.
    I love the way you talk about being compassionate with ourselves; this we tend to forget when we are in difficult and challenging situations, but we are only human and life is tough enough as it is, right?

  2. Exactly Gaby! If we talked to our friends the way we talked to ourselves we would soon find ourselves without any friends! Sometimes ( alot of times) I have to remind myself how lucky I am that I have a body that can do all of the things I ask it may not do it fast or pretty but it is a truly amazing 'machine'. I really have no right to dismiss how great it is...


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