I just wanted to tell a little story to remind people that as a wise man once said, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Okay, maybe Adam Levine isn’t really the wisest man in the world, but still.
In the one(+) week I’ve been a Charlottesville resident, I could almost count the hours where the temperature outside has been above freezing on my hands. And, I could probably count the days when it’s been dry for any number of hours of the day on just one hand.
Sorry guys, apparently I brought some crappy weather with my move!
Again this year as I find myself ramping up training for that early season Ironman, I’m faced with the battle against the weather. I had a bit of dejavu this weekend as on Saturday I woke up to the notion that the weather forecast was, in fact, correct and it was pouring and cold outside. It confirmed my decision to swap my run and ride day, and I began to gather my running shoes for the track workout on tap.
“Neat, I’ll try out that track I’ve driven by that’s only a couple miles away; perfect for the warm up!”
I headed out into the cold rain, legs not feeling too terrible, and a couple miles later got to the school with said track. I made my way down some steps and onto the track and began to jog a loop…..and then finished that loop in <75 seconds. Now, I’ve made some progress in my training lately, but let’s just say a 75 second 400 obviously isn’t even in the realm of possibilities for a jog. What the….
Hmmm, this does look awful small. Crap. I found a miniature track. (note: I looked this up later and it is, in fact, 6 laps to the mile if you run in the 3rd lane. wtf.)
The rain picked up as my brain began turning: where is the next closest track? While it wasn’t too far, if I ran there, then had to run home, I would be making this run wayyy longer than intended. So, I picked up my water bottle, promptly fell into a mud puddle, and began to jog home. As if I wasn’t already at wits end, the rain just got harder, and even thunder and lightning began. Dear god.
I got home, and before I could really think much more about it I grabbed my car keys and headed off to the (real) track. By this point I had now run over 4 miles and was cold again, so I had to warm up another mile before hitting the workout. Believe me, when you’re setting up for a workout and supposed to hit times much faster than you’ve ever done before, the last thing you want on your mind is that you’ve been on your legs 3 miles more than you should be going into it.
At this time, in my head, I called a “reset.” Reset’s are something I mostly use in swimming, but have to pull them out in the other sessions too. Basically it’s a way I trick my brain into forgetting everything that happened before that point. Many times I don’t hit the first interval in a long swim set, and I call a reset, start entirely over, and get it. It’s all in your head!!
So, I called a reset on the day, and hit the track. First interval – Nailed it!
I didn’t hit the time. Sure, I was close. But at that moment I had an urge which honestly is pretty rare for me in training: I just wanted to cry. I was cold, alone, way behind the schedule for the day I wanted, tired and had barely started the workout, had already used up my reset, and now wasn’t even going to make the intervals.
But, I didn’t cry. Instead, I just kept running. And this is that mental part of endurance sports which is impossible to articulate. There is no way to wrap words around what it was that made me tell myself to suck it up, and just run. Hit the best interval you can, and do it over and over. Eventually this workout will be behind you. Instead of focusing on the time I was missing the interval by, I forced myself to hang on to the promise that I was so close to the goal – maybe I would get there with this next one. I turned up my music and switched songs so that the beat of the next one on shuffle could maybe get me to pick it up – some Ke$ha, Britney, anything. I’m not even kidding when I say that instead the Les Mis soundtrack kept popping up — someone really was working against me today. (PS – love the soundtrack, just not for running)
I did finish the workout, and you know what? I never did dial in on the goal pace and maintain that. But, I still had the best set I’ve ever run for that particular workout. And, as Hillary put it “yay we got bonus miles!” When you get a response like that to a workout log where you drone on about how terrible it is and woe is me, you remember a few things. One – keep it in perspective. And two – just because the progress isn’t what you want, doesn’t mean it’s not there. So when workouts get tough and it seems like everything is against you, Pack your shovel (and your umbrella). No excuses. And most importantly, instead of focusing on the reason to stop or the reason things are going wrong…..find a reason it’s going right. And hang on to that as hard as you can.