15.32. When I looked at my Garmin and saw those numbers I had a big ol' Sh#% eating grin from ear to ear because that was the point when I knew I would finish this run. You see, this was a 20 miler, and they are understandably difficult. I've been having some difficulty hitting my miles lately for reasons both physical and mental, and I wasn't really sure I was going to finish this run until I past the 15 mile mark. As I write this, I am reminded of the fact that at one point not too long ago, 5 miles was a distance I had to work my way up to, and felt great when I had accomplished it. Now, it's a distance that I can take for granted and know that I'll be able to complete it, even after already running 15 miles. It's really good for me to remember these things, as they are those moments when your progress reaches up and smacks you upside the head, to remind you that you have come a long, long way. It seems so easy to get down on yourself because you ran more miles last week, or had a faster pace, or weighed a pound or two less. At times like this I really have to pump the brakes a little and back up to get some perspective. It's so important to remember back far enough that where you are now, is substantially better than where you were a while back. Short term fluctuations are just noise, and should not be reasons for despair ( or elation ) Take a look at the trends. Whether its your weight, your pace, or your distances, make sure you compare them over a long enough time to have significance. Gaining 2 pounds this week isn't really that big of a deal. Do it for 4 weeks in a row, and now it's a trend and needs to be addressed. the same goes with your speeds and distances. Don't worry about the blips, and minor variations. Don't beat yourself up, or proclaim your dominance, for a short term change in anything. Wait out the noise, and act on the trends.
I think the reason I've had a little trouble lately is I got carried away with my mileage 2 weeks ago. I ended up running about 25% more miles than my plan dictated, and felt great about it. The next week I was sluggish, lacked motivation, and each mile was a struggle. Plus there were a few non running issues that were sapping my strength a bit, and lo and behold....I was cutting runs short, or backing off the paces I needed to be running. I had already cut short one of my 20 milers, and I know those are the backbone of a marathon plan, so I had to force myself to finish this one, no matter what. There was an explorer ( I believe it was Hernandez Cortez ) who was about to lead his men into battle against the Aztecs, who outnumbered him by 300 to 1. He was afraid his men would be too quick to retreat so after he brought them ashore, he ordered them to burn their boats. If they lost the battle, there was no means of escape. Their only options were victory or death. The won. So..how do you apply this concept to a 20 mile run ? You run one way. None of this out 10 miles and back, because then you can always turn around at 8, or 9 miles and rationalize it with some excuse. I ran to a train station 20 miles away. It was a beautiful run through some marshland and farms that was one of my best runs ever. The added incentive of having to catch a train home, is that I have to maintain my pace or I'm going to have to wait 3 hours for the next train. It wasn't quite the victory or death scenario that Cortez had created, but it was motivating just the same. And it worked.
So....the morals of today's post are as follows:
Ignore the noise
Don't under estimate the power of proper motivation
and of course....
Just don't stop running.
Thanks so much for reading.