Last run of week 8 and it’s another 28 minute’s of fun back at the local park. I was tempted to mix it up and try a different location but I thought I’d stick with the park and compare the Endomondo stats to see if there’s any measurable progress.
It’s a fairly lazy walk up the road, a full afternoon of puppy mayhem with little respite and I’m not really feeling up for this run. Usually, I’m chomping at the bit. I try to shake my self out of it before I hit the park, worried that it’ll be an exploit I’ll be using against myself in a few minutes.
It’s another early evening run, perfect running weather not to warm and there’s a refreshing cool breeze. The park is fairly busy, lots of people enjoying the sun. In another amazing stroke of luck, I start the run at the top of the park (it’s uncanny :-)). Settle into my standard shuffle, I’m conscious of going a little bit quicker than usual, always the case when I start recording runs. Let’s hope it’s not too quick, I won’t know for 20 minutes.
Laura chimes in at 5 minutes, and then at 10 minutes. I easily get out to 10 minutes these days before my breathing starts to become a thing I need to focus on, a fact I find totally staggering given I couldn’t control my breathing for 1 minute on W1D1. It appears I’ve built up some real stamina over the last few weeks.
Laura announces the halfway mark (14 mins), I’m expecting my old friends to try it on and sure enough they’re trying to convince me I’m not really up for this. It won’t work, I do the usual status check:
- legs – fine, little bit heavy, quads are starting to light up, nothing to worry about
- feet – good to go. I did have some mild foot ache at the 5-10 minute mark, but it’s gone now
- stomach – as usual, warnings about slowing it down on the steepest part of the incline, but other than that no problems.
- lungs – laboured going up, recovered going down – it’s all good but there is a slow trend towards heavier breathing as per usual.
The conclusion, no problems, no reason to stop. It doesn’t matter what my mood is I have no reason to stop. I hit the 20 minute mark and it’s the 3rd time up the incline. It’s not fun but it’s well under control, more so than the last two runs.
I’m just coming down the incline at the top of the park and Laura indicates we have 5 minutes to go. Do I want to pick up the pace? I’m not feeling the need to go nuclear, there will be other days to leave it all on the field. Let’s just bring it home and draw a line under week 8. I minutely pick up the pace anyway just to show willing and I make a special effort to keep my form clean for the last 5 minutes.
Hanging on, hanging on. Call it already Laura! Hanging on … hanging … she finally hears my pleas, just after I reach the top of the steepest part of the park, thanks! Stagger engaged I head towards the exit. I’ve recovered. i.e. my breathing is back to normal within 90 seconds. Amazing. I can definitely feel this one in my quads, they are burning from the effort. Good, that means they’ll be stronger next time, but it does make the walk home a little bit interesting.
So another solid performance. Physically it felt ok, I again successfully managed the situation without hitting the red line or blowing a gasket. There was probably a bit of fuel left in the tank, but then there will need to be for next week.
Mentally I’m over the moon, I have struggled throughout the program with a continuous cacophony of negative thoughts, engineered to undermine my every step. These last couple of runs, I have to listen very hard to hear a defeated and frustrated grumbling voice. They sometimes half-heartedly try it on but I’ve seen it all before and we both know it isn’t going to work. I have a whole bag of shhhh and it’s got their name on it:
I now run for the most part focussed on the task, like the captain of a ship I just keep an eye on a set of well-established processes, tweaking here, adjusting there. It’s not even a full-time job, I catch myself daydreaming, the sort of random thoughts you’d have watching clouds float by, before having to remind myself to check back in.
The status reports I’ve described aren’t hyperbole, but a very real mental dialogue/coping strategy that forces my inner demons to put up or shut up. I discussed in an earlier post the huge mindset change that asking yourself to “prove I CAN”T do it” makes, at least to me. Each run adds more evidence that I can do it, making it increasingly difficult for negative thoughts to succeed.
To reach the point where I can daydream while running for me is utterly staggering when only weeks ago every run was a trip to hell and back, I entertained every pain, every doubt, every fantasy failure scenario. It’s a change that eclipses the physical improvements of the program.
Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable
It looks like I was over optimistic in my last post that I was looking at 36-38m, it’s more like a solid 40m run looking again at the stats. Another 10 minutes! This run was slightly quicker than the last, which is good. But I think I’m going to have to really take a closer look at my pace in Week 9 and see if I can start cranking it up. I don’t want to be out there all day.
Looking out to week 9, adding another 2 minutes is obviously not that much of a concern. In fact I’m looking forward to mentally just running 3x10m, rather than the odd milestones that got me to 28 minutes. But upping the pace is going to be a fine balancing act, get it wrong and I could end up giving giving my demons the ammo they so desperately desire.