I’ve been dreading this run. I was still beat up from Monday, not helped by deciding to do the yearly reclaim of the overgrown vegetable patch on the Tuesday, in the process knackering my hand trying to use a scythe poorly.
So I decided to take an extra day to recover which was definitely the right move physically. Mentally the last run was so hard the thought of struggling through all it again had been praying on my mind, delaying a day didn’t help. So I decided to watch a bunch more of the motivational videos on Youtube this time from a chap called Robin Best. That sorted my bullshit right out and I headed to the field of pain, renewed to really kick my arse.
I wouldn’t say it was easy but yet again it was “doable”, a term that seems to be cropping up with encouraging regularity in the program. It was easier than run one, reminder to self. I walked around the field at the beginning and end again (another nice day) adding another 2x15m to my warmup/cool down, which I find helps.
The big win for me this time was deriving motivation from music. I touched upon this in the last run, the brains desperate search for meaning to distract itself from the situation. But I started to realise in this run it could make a huge difference in the quality of my run. The benefits of attaching meaning to what were otherwise random lyrics can go a long way to making a run mentally more manageable.
I have already discussed the detrimental effects of hearing a “Rocky” track early on in my runs. The dump of adrenalin was short lived and ultimately made the run worse. So what’s changed? What you critically learn as the runs get longer is pacing and conservation of energy/effort, you really have no choice in the matter.
My breathing is a huge indicator to whether I’m in or out of my “comfort” (read less dreadful) zone. I can now run for 3 minutes and it’s almost all under control, breathing is heavy but regulated. In the 5 minute runs the last 90 seconds slide out of the zone, fatigue takes its toll and I start to loose form and it’s a vicious circle from there. i.e. increasing amounts of energy being wasted flailing around to ultimately go slower and slower.
But what I think I’ve seen (and time will tell) is it’s possible to attenuate the use of adrenalin, so rather than a big peek which basically pushes you straight out of the comfort zone into hell, it’s possible to stretch out the boost. Yes the peek is lower but it last’s longer and I can remain within the comfort zone. More importantly all the time adrenaline is coursing through my veins, I don’t feel the fatigue, aches and pains and it becomes very close to running on air.
So let’s take a closer look, I’m still on a Florence binge, so here’s an exercise in both how lyrics can be twisted and the physiological effects:
Half way through the first 5 minute run and I’m feeling guilty for attaching my own petty meaning to Florence’s hugely personal latest offering. But needs must, the hunger in my context became my hunger to run – so the chorus “We all have hunger” definitely carried me those few extra yards. Not to mention …
*“The way you use your body, baby, come on and work it for me*
*Don’t let it get you down, you’re the best thing I’ve seen”*
Yep that’s a pep talk right there and helped me make it through. In fact this 5 minute run was probably tougher than the 2nd 5 minute run, probably because I had been dreading it so much.
I’m still trying to figure out whether I prefer the Source version of this track or Florence’s. I’m a sucker for a electronic synth, but Florence vocals are so strong. The jury is still out. What is undeniable is it’s a killer power track for running.
*Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air*
*I know I can count on you*
*Sometimes I feel like saying “Lord I just don’t care”*
*But you’ve got the love I need*
*To see me through*
This made the second 3 minute run a cake walk. I was well recovered before the 90 seconds were up.
Well it’s got the word run in it for starters, and the last verse coincided with Laura echoing “you better run”. Obviously, demands to run for your family are always going to provide the desired effect.
*“The horses are coming so yet better run.*
*Run fast for your mother run fast for your father.*
*Run for your children for sisters and brothers.*
*Leave all your love and your longing behind you.*
*Can’t carry it with if want to survive. “*
Leave your love and longing behind you, translates as stop wishing/longing you can run, stop the negative thoughts and just f***** run, because the wishing/longing won’t help you if you want to survive to the end.
In my mind the chorus of “the dog days are over” translated into “you remember those easier runs? They are long gone! It’s time to knuckle down and suck it up!. I went into the last 5 minute run with an almost angry determination and the fore-knowledge I wasn’t going to stop until it was done.
As a side note, another trick/ability I seem to have developed is the moment I take the first step of a run my brain instantly calculates the stopping point around the field (be it 60s, 90s, 3m or 5m) with almost pin point accuracy. When I think about 8m runs, and trust me when you’ve just done 5m practically your first thought is 8m isn’t possible, it has an answer for that as well – works out at about 90% round the field. I’m not sure if these estimation thoughts are negative or positive but they are amusing.
So we’re into the final 5 minute run, the crucible, the one that matters. Pretty much all of “Shake it Out” (at least in my head) echoes my mental battle when running.
*“Regrets collect like old friends*
*Here to relive your darkest moments*
*I can see no way, I can see no way*
*And all of the ghouls come out to play*
*And every demon wants his pound of flesh*
*But I like to keep some things to myself*
*I like to keep my issues strong*
*It’s always darkest before the dawn”*
Regrets, oh yes I’d say so, right now I’m really regretting this run. I’m reliving my darkest moment again (flash back to same point in the last run). I can’t see a way to do it, demons/doubts are most definitely at play and I’m literally giving (what I wish) was a pound of flesh (fat).
I like to keep some things to myself, is twisted as a reminder to pace myself and hold something back. Blah blah … strong! Yes keep it together. It’s always darkest before the dawn = not long now.
Then the chorus chimes in “shake those devils off your back” to say it give me a boost would be an understatement. For the first 2 minutes of the second 5 minute run, the adrenalin kicked in and I was running without a care in the world. Shame it wasn’t the last 2 minutes but there you go, the power of adrenaline.
Needless to say it started to unravel in the last 90 seconds, but it didn’t matter by then because I knew I had won. I finished and yes I was tired, staggering to a degree, but actually it wasn’t that bad. Somewhere in there I think I found the beginnings of a sustainable pace and there’s clear improvement. I’ll have to send Florence a thank you letter.
I think I could derive motivation from anything during these moments of duress, I’ll report back. Roll on run 3, I’m going to crush it.