I ran again today. 4.46 miles of painful hills stood between me and a new personal best time for this self established route. In the end I won the battle against the pavement and reduced my time to 46 minutes. Two days ago I ran it in 50 minutes, and last week end I ran it in 48 minutes. I was sure I could be under 50 minutes, because I lacked motivation on that run. Every hill seemed like it would go on forever and I ended up walking too many times trying to catch my breath. I knew I could beat that time today, because I knew how I felt after that run. I had let myself down and I ended up punishing myself mentally for it for the rest of that day. I only get so many training days a week. (I run about every other day because research online suggest that people who give their body that extra day between runs suffer significantly less overuse injuries. Nothing would be worse for me than to finally get back into shape only to be sidelined by an injury and give myself a chance to go back to the couch potato I was before. Motivation is hard to rebuild, so I'll do what I can to keep me on target.) If I spend one of my training days giving a weak performance and not pushing myself hard enough it is a wasted day. Then I need to wait another day before I work out again, so it is like three wasted days. Mentally I have a hard time with wasting that workout especially if what caused me to not give my all was lack of will power, and not some physiological reason. Basically a weak mind that didn't want to push through the tiredness, even though it could have.
I know that the difference between a 50 minute run and a 46 minute run is really not that much. I felt the same pain running up the hills, fought the same feelings of exhaustion and had the same negative thoughts that came into my head as I struggled along. The difference to me is how I handled it. Today I told my body that I was in charge, not the other way around. When it wanted to rest I kept on going, and that is what makes it so much more of a victory for me. Even if it is the difference of only about one minute per mile. It is a huge mental victory and that is what I need to have now. As my mileage picks up to train for the half marathon, I need to know that my mental strength is growing as well as my physical strength and endurance. That combination is what will take me to the finish line of a 13.1 mile race and beyond, nothing less will do. I know I will have other bad workouts, but I just hope that every time I have one I get the same motivation from it to make the rest better, and me stronger. I hope that every time I work out I can remember how bad it feels to let myself down by not giving enough effort, and how awesome it feels to finish a run knowing that every thing I had is laying out on that road in tiny droplets of sweat.
So, congratulations to me for a good effort today. I have a long way to go, but I know I can do it if I can keep up the motivation. My first 5K run (3.1 miles) is coming up soon. I am very excited about getting into it and seeing what I have in an actual race environment. I am not kidding myself by thinking I will actually be competitive, but rather that this first race will set a time for me that I can shoot for in the next race. This way the only one I really have to compete against is me. As long as I can keep surpassing my own personal bests, I will be getting better, healthier, and who knows, maybe someday I can be up closer to the top in a race.