Friday, June 15, 2012

Running is 50% physical, 99% mental

This spring has driven that fact home to me in many ways. This past winter I established some early season goals, signed up with a  coach (Adam), bought a treadmill, and really went for it. I was stricken with some sort of respiratory bug early on, but I rested well and recovered fairly quickly.

My first goal was a new PR in the 5k distance. The target race was a local Shamrock Shuffle 5k. I’d run it before, and was confident that I had enough training under my shrinking belt to accomplish my goal. Three days before the event, my beloved Aunt passed away. My mind was all over the place. We booked flights to go to North Carolina to be with my cousin and my Mom. They left the afternoon of the race, and my mind just wasn’t in the race. I walked some. More than I should have. I cried. I nearly gave up, but I didn’t. My Aunt didn’t, and I wasn’t about to dishonor her by quitting. My wife raced back from a conference she was attending and met me a few minutes after I had finished. It was great to see her there, and it helped me to get over my non-PR race.

The next goal on my list was a pretty big PR at the Half Marathon. June 3rd was the date, so I set my feet to running for that goal. Adam was very understanding with me, but still kept me in line and accountable. He’s great. A few not-so-good things happened the week before that race, too, and I really wasn’t in the right mindset. My taper miles were at an all time low of ZERO for the week, sleep was nearly non existent, and nutrition was way out the window. But I showed up. I really like this race; it is local, classic, and draws people from pretty far away. The spots (3,000 I think?) filled in about 10 minutes this year, so I was very lucky to get in. I met a friend and her daughter in the parking area, and we rode the shuttle to the start. I bumped into some other runners from work, chatted a bit, did a warm up mile, and got ready to take on my PR. I won’t go into the full report here, but suffice to say I nearly threw in the towel at mile 4. Around mile 9, though, I had a change of heart. Best part of the race? This finish line photo:


After that disappointing race (#2, for those of you keeping score) I took the next week + ‘off’ from running, even though I really needed to be right back at it. My next goal is to finish a 50k, which will be in August. I really need to get back into running. A lot.

My running class on Tuesday was threatened by a storm, but we managed to get the training in before the weather arrived. I decided that I wanted to squeeze in a trail run before bed time, so I made arrangements to do so. I was bound and determined to get at least 4 good woodsy miles in before dark, so I headed to one of the local trailheads for the Appalachian Trail. The route is very rocky, muddy, and rooty. I was a bit nervous about my footing, but was very pleasantly surprised how my Adidas Kanadia TR’s handled the terrain. I reached my goal turn around point in about an hour, which was surprising as it was only about 2.6 miles. That’s pretty slow going. I had stopped a few times, and didn’t bother to stop my gps. At any rate, I snapped these photos before I headed back.IMAG0233IMAG0232

I headed back to the car recharged. My mindset changed into a more positive vibe. My legs didn’t feel heavy. My lungs were readily filled with oxygen, and I decided to try for a negative split. It was getting darker, the rain was falling heavier, and my energy was falling. Despite all of that, though, I was determined to make it back in less time than it took me to get to the swamp bridge.

And I did it. I did it in less than 55 minutes. The last half mile was done in nearly complete darkness. I had a small headlamp with me that isn’t very good for trails. But I made do.

That little victory has helped to turn my psyche around. I am in better spirits at the end of this week than I had been at the end of last week or the week prior.

How are you able to turn your frown upside down?


  1. It's hard. Some times I blog about my struggles, and it shows me that I'm not alone. It's reassuring sometimes.

    Other times a good run helps, no HR monitor, no watch...just me, my shoes, and the road...OK, and clothes too.

  2. despite the ups and downs you've shared, your passion for running is VERY inspiring. And those man-muscles in your legs are poppin'. Go Gene!

  3. I know all too well the ups and downs mentally with running...last year I was at my lowest low, but I changed up a few things, plugged away, and found the joy again. You're a very talented and strong runner. One run at a time, you'll conquer the lows again. And damn, dude, those muscles are freaking badass.