Happy National Running Day!
I don’t know what to say about that beyond, “Go for a run today, everyone is doing it!”
So go run.
What I really wanted to talk about today was overcoming discouragement. As a runner, I am an intense Type-A looney tunes and can get discouraged quite easily. Perfectionism and all that jazz. Which is why I left my watch at home when I started race training again because I knew if I just coughed up a lung giving a long run all I had and looked down to see something ridiculous I would probably eat my feelings on the couch for the rest of the day.
It’s also really easy to sit here and regurgitate a lot of platitudes and cliches about being discouraged to motivate you, and I don’t even believe those things myself. This morning I saw the requisite “Wake up and be awesome!” meme on my Instacrack feed this morning and I was all, “Die. I’m sore as hell, out of coffee creamer, and today is stupid.”
I should be a motivational speaker with that attitude, right?
Anyhoo, I wanted to talk about this because I hit a wall of discouragement while out on my long run this weekend and it was a tough thing to overcome. I went into my long run feeling super jazzy because I had just received a box of lululemon swag to review, and I had been sticking to my training plan like a damn boss and feeling great. I was ready to eat those 8 miles for breakfast. It was hot, but I had my cool refreshing drink in hand, so let’s do this.
It just didn’t happen that way. Everything went wrong.
First of all, now that I’m not running with music, I hear birds. I am terrified of birds. Have a fear of spiders? I have that same fear of birds. Especially since I was attacked by both a bird and a goose at this time last year.
My long run starts off on a pretty wooded trail, and this red-winged blackbird, aka flying asshole, was keeping tabs on me by flying directly overhead and squawking the whole time. Then eventually determined that I was some kind of predatory threat and dive bombed the crap out of me. So I ducked and screamed my head off like I was being killed, of course. Obviously that bird had issues and was definitely rabid and violent.
After that, I keep chugging along through this office park and fml, there’s a damn goose and his wife ready to rumble. So I crossed the street and like the damn scaredy cat I am, I kicked it into high gear to avoid certain death at the beaks of obviously deranged and rabid geese.
So by the first mile, I’m freaking cashed out. I just had two heart attacks and two 4oo meter dead sprints. Only 7 miles to go!
I’m on a main road now, getting ready to climb a pretty challenging set of hills. Apparently Red Winged Asshole Blackbird, alerted his buddies up the road, and one of them harassed me up the biggest hill. Nothing like sprinting up an insane hill to get the blood pumping and killing your legs dead!
By the time I got to the first stoplight, I was like, okay, whatever. Maybe I should just double back and call it a day. The birds hate me, my lungs are on fire, and my legs are dead. I do not have another 6 miles in me. Nope. This sucks, running sucks, and I should just spend my summer at the pool drinking. Whatever.
Somehow I talked myself into soldiering on, I don’t know why, I just did, and by the time I made it to my first water stop, I was feeling a bit better. So I literally told myself that, “You’re feeling better, Jenn! Of course you were tired, you just did a speed workout! But you kept going and that’s good!”
It’s true. I’m that simple of a creature.
For the rest of the run, I played all sorts of mental gymnastics with myself. Reminding of the long run last year on the same route I bailed on because my legs absolutely died and I was probably in peak condition then. So it just happens whether you’re mid-training or just starting. It’s not indicative of anything other than you’re just not having a good day. It can also be turned around.
And that’s what happened. I talked to myself like a total mental patient, and by mile 5, the run had totally turned around and I finished a lot stronger than I had just the week prior. I even kicked out the last 800m really hard, whereas last week, I slammed on the brakes as soon as I hit the street corner. Many pats on the back, atta girls, and what started out as the worst run ever turned into a great long run.
I think overcoming discouragement basically boils down to believing in your ability to go on. Just surrendering yourself to the truth of, “Yeah this sucks right now, but it isn’t forever” and staying on course can result in a totally different outcome. If it doesn’t, at least you can relish in the accomplishment of not giving up, and that’s still something.