For the first time in…god, easily over a month, I went for a run tonight. The humidity finally took a chill pill, so once the sun got a little low in the sky it was prime conditions for lacing up my cross-trainers, and I actually had the drive to just effing do it, and so I did.
And my goodness gracious, was it wonderful.
I forget time and time again how much I love running. I forget how the rhythm of my shoes against the pavement can clear my head unlike anything else. I forget how the strain in my lungs is actually wildly refreshing, like a challenge presented to me by my own body to push on. I forget all these things, so I end up going without running for weeks on end, and then when I finally get my butt out the front door, I find myself wondering what took me so fucking long.
So, in the hopes that I won’t have yet another workout dry spell, I’m enumerating my How I’m Gonna Get My Track Legs Back (Sans Shin Splints) plan here for all to see, so that maybe I will actually hold myself to it.
1. Use and abuse the nearby stadium: One of the perks to living with my ‘rents is that I am literally 45 seconds from my old high school, which, gloriously, comes equipped with a track and a stadium just begging to be used by yours truly. I enjoy a nice long run now and then, but I was and will always be a sprinter at heart, so I LOVE a good ol’ fashioned speed workout: running 400M at 80%, sprinting full out 100M, walking till my heart rate returns to normal; jogging the stairs of the stadium until my quads burn; timing myself in the races I used to run as a teenager. The track is right there and I am still small enough to squeeze through the gap in the fence, so why the fuck shouldn’t I use it, right?
2. Something is better than nothing: Back in college when I had ready and willing running buddies coming out my ears, it was easy to find the drive to go for a run. But now, it’s just me, all by my lonesome. And sometimes going for even an easy 2 miles seems daunting. But why should I force myself to do even 2 miles? Isn’t it preferable that I get outside, get my heart pumping, get a quick burst of endorphins, if only for 10 minutes? One pathetic mile is still a mile. It’s still calories burned, fresh air breathed, mind cleared. So even on those days when it’s hot or rainy or I feel lousy, I need to remember that I can dress, run one mile, and be home in 12 minutes. A little rain or heat won’t kill me in 12 minutes.
3. A day off is good; 12 days off is bad: I always read about how giving your body a chance to repair is paramount to being fit; your muscles need time to recover. But what I tend to do is take a day or two off and then…never go back. Or I get on a roll and run as many days in a row as possible and burnout. I gotta stick with 2 days on, one off. Or Day 1, long run; Day 2, a quickie; Day 3, a hard interval workout; Day 4, rest like god did on the 7th day.
4. There is pain and then there is PAIN; know the difference: When aiming for a good 4-5 mile day, I usually wimp out around the 3rd mile. Either I get a stitch in my side, or my breathing is haggard, or my feet are hot, or my mouth is dry, and I make excuses to myself about why I am allowed to give up and go home. THAT MUST CEASE. Tight calves or tired lungs come with the goddamn territory: I will NEVER get into better shape if I cave in to a little pain. I need to use my mind to work my way through the pain; as my father always says, “MENTAL TOUGHNESS!” I hate to quote him, but the man has a point. There is a big difference between discomfort and, “Holy shit, I just tore my ACL.” I’ve had migraines my whole life, I can deal with a little pain to achieve the pride that comes with running your entire pre-planned course and then getting home and realizing, “Hey, I can keep going.” C’mon, Pamela. Suck it up, bitch.
Alright, that’s all I’ve got so far. But you get to hold me to this. I ran today and it was wonderful and the endorphins coursing through me right now are demanding that I keep it up. But tomorrow, when my little natural opiates have faded away, this post is going to be my reminder that I have goals, and for once, I’d like to actually meet them. Any words of encouragement or advice (or trash talk) you, my readers, can offer, would only serve to spur me on all the more, so comment comment comment. Please.