I wasn’t able to do my routine run on Monday because of a terrible rain storm that didn’t seem to let up for hours. Eventually, I threw the whole notion of running out the window and decided to eat dinner and relax with a glass of wine. I knew that on Wednesday I’d have to stay at the school until 8pm because of “open house night” and that on Friday evening I’d be rushing to the airport for our weekend get-away. On Tuesday I came home exhausted and unmotivated but, I decided that I didn’t have any choice in the matter but to put on my running clothes and head out if I was going to get any mileage in this week at all.
I felt achy, heavy and sluggish the minute I started running but convinced myself that once I had finished a mile, I’d be warmed up and less irritated by the whole thing. Unfortunately, it had just finished raining and the pavement was sending up waves of scorching humidity towards my face. Now I was achy, heavy, sluggish AND uncomfortably hot. I thought this was supposed to be fun? But, again, I decided to press on and just keep going, hoping I’d eventually get in a groove and “auto-pilot” would kick in.
For me, “auto-pilot” is that point in any run when I am no longer making a conscious effort to move my limbs. In fact, I’m not even thinking about the fact that I’m running anymore. I’m meditating solely on the sound of my feet hitting the pavement and my mind is blank or focused on observing my surroundings. Unfortunately, this wasn’t happening for me.
As I miserably pressed on, I saw an older, heavy-set woman wearing a cotton t-shirt and pair of heavy sneakers trotting along. I tried to make myself feel better by feigning a sense of superiority because she was obviously “not a true runner” and I huffed and puffed as I passed her on the sidewalk. One mile down and not only was I STILL not having any fun, I had now developed an uncomfortable stitch on the right side of my rib cage… But I continued forward.
My pace became irregular and I began to exhale more aggressively to get the carbon dioxide out of my lungs. That gave me no results so I started to do all the tricks in the book like the “lift your arms” thing, then I tried the “slow your pace” thing and eventually the “stop completely and walk for a bit” thing but nothing got rid of the stitch which had now turned into a full-on cramp… And that’s when it happened.
That’s when the cotton t-shirt lady passed me. (gasp)
Immediately thereafter, the cramp got so bad that I couldn’t breathe right so I called my boyfriend and got picked up alongside of the road, panting pathetically. I was only a mile and a half away from finishing the only run I was probably going to do this week and I had totally chickened out because of a stupid cramp and a fast old lady in non-dry-wick fabric.
I had defeated myself, really. I had let my exhaustion, my stress, my pride and my neuroses get the best of me. That’s my problem… I limit myself by not getting out of my own head.
In what ways have you defeated yourself on a run? How have you worked to over come this? How do you feel when you hit YOUR “auto-pilot”? Please share.