Fitness is A Feeling

_20141023_103813Running just for running’s sake can be a ponderous and unfulfilling journey. Lucky for me, running is a lovely teacher who points out life lessons along the way, if I open my eyes to see them.

My long run this past Sunday was a solid example of a lesson learned. I set out to run 16 miles and do surges every 6 minutes after a few warmup miles. It had been a while since I ran that long and certainly since I had done any sort of workout within the long run, so I was nervous. If I am being honest, I was probably not in the most positive frame of mind either.

My friend and I were not sure of the mile markers on the country road, so we ran by time and flipped around when it seemed like 8 miles by the watch. By this point, we had done a few of our surges and I was getting tired. I was also annoyed at myself, and getting more and more annoyed as the miles went by. I didn’t think I should be getting tired so soon.

I wasn’t even running that fast! Why did my legs feel like this? I must be horribly out of shape. I think I am out of shape. I AM out of shape. Look at how slow these surges are. I wish this run was over. Are we close to the car yet? WHERE IS THE CAR?

My thoughts spiraled out of control, and I let them. I lost my long run to self-doubt and pity. It was ugly, friends. I am not proud of it.

We got back to the car, stretched a bit, chatted and then went our separate ways. Naturally, being a super uptight distance runner, I immediately mapped out my run the instant I got home. I wanted to know just how bad this really was. Pour some salt in the wound, please.

But it wasn’t bad at all! In fact, it was quite good for where I am at in my training cycle. I stared at the screen and my pace per mile and felt a shift in perspective.

Now, that run didn’t seem so terrible. I might actually be kind of proud of it. I think I am proud of it. I felt bad and still ran that quickly? All right! My running future brightened.

I like to think that I am generally a positive person, but over the course of a fairly rotten spring and summer, one filled with bumps and injury and set back after set back, I had lost a fair amount of that positivity. I wallowed a bit in it all too, which never helps. I let my current problems cloud my view of all the work I have done over the past years and obscure the brightness of the future.

I could have been more positive the whole time, not just in this one run. It would have made cross training easier and more enjoyable. I would have been a more pleasant person to be around, which I am sure everyone in my life would have appreciated. But better late than never, right?

Moving forward in this process of building mileage and fitness, I am going to keep it in perspective. I am not comparing runs to myself at peak fitness, but rather to where I should be in this buildup. Each run is not the end of the world, the defining moment of my career, but a stepping stone to bigger and better workouts next week and the week after and the week after that. I will approach each workout with a smile on my face and an attitude of thankfulness that I am able to run and ferocity to conquer it well.

I pulled this shirt out of the drawer to wear to run today. I could not believe how well it fits this process in so many ways. I am sure each person interprets the UR saying differently, but I am interpreting it for me as a reminder to keep it all in perspective and acknowledge that I am fit today.


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