Monday, January 21, 2013



Overheard: text messages

Friend: I couldn't do today's workout [week 3 of a 9 week Couch to 5k program]. Is there a 1K I could sign up for? Or a half K I could do? Feeling pretty down.

Me: It's fine. You tried, right? Every painting isn't a best seller. Sometimes you just paint over the canvas. But instead of painting over this one, think about what happened: too fast? Too tired? Not enough water today? Rough weekend? And adjust accordingly. Your 5k is a compilation of EVERY workout, not the result of any ONE particular run.

Guys, I totally remember those early days. When one workout meant that your race was going to crash and burn. I remember this summer trying to run 6 miles in crazy heat and only getting through 4 of them and bailing out to go puke at home. I remember when each run was a vitally important predictor of the final outcome. That's so different from my attitude now. Now, if a run sucks, it just means the run sucked. It doesn't mean that I'll never run again. But I remember when it did. Gist: I know how this feels. You won't feel that way in 6 months. So keep running for the next 6 months so you can get to this good place.

The situation with this particular friend is that while she was following the C25k program, she was also increasing her speed incrementally each workout. This was NOT in the plan. This was working on speed AND distance at the same time. That's a no-no. You're either building up to a new distance, or you're working on speed. Doing both is going to have you on your butt really quickly.

I know. I did it. I remember clearly figuring out my pace for the marathon and realizing that I was basically walking. And I remember Trainer A giving me the same speech. "You're training to finish this thing, not set a time record. Let's get this first one done, then we can train for speed after it's over." And the 12 year old Veruca Salt in my head whined that I wanted to be good AND fast AND finish the race... Dude. You can totally have that. Later. Today, you're just training to finish.

I wonder if I had let myself believe any of this two years ago, if I would have been easier mentally on myself and been able to enjoy the marathon, instead of being so disappointed.


Anonymous said...

I'm onto week 4. I do it tomorrow. I am still scared and feeling like I won't be able to run the 5K, but giving up and not trying isn't an option. It is hard to see how far you came knowing how far you still have to go. It also makes it hard to enjoy the little triumphs like losing a pound or running for 3 minutes when you have so many more pounds to lose and so many more minutes to learn how to run.

Annie Crow said...

Oh, amen. I so wish I'd had the "I'm in this to finish" mentality for my first marathon.

... said...

Dear "Anonymous" (Melanie),
This is the one circumstance where I would actually look BACKWARD for a few minutes. The first few weeks (pounds) are full of fun and adrenalin and newness. And now it's this middle part where you have the support of the past, and the promise of the future. You're not just running today's 3 minutes. You've run 3 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 etc. etc. etc. That's a lot of minutes.

Yeah, this 3 sucks. Hard. I sometimes swear outloud as I run through the street. That's cool. But don't forget that your feet have run SO much more than this 3 minute segment. You have MILES behind you. MILES. When looking ahead is daunting, peek back and get excited for how amazing you already are.


Ali said...

Even thought I've been running for 3 years, I still feel this way sometimes. But it's gotten better. Now I know that I can run and complete a race even if my training was interrupted a bit.

I look forward to really being able to shake off a bad run completely!