The mental side of this fitness journey has been really apparent to me lately. I didn't write much about it, but I got sick a couple of weeks ago and had to take three or four days off. When I went back out to run again I was off my game and I knew it. Not physically so much as mentally. I eased back into my running with intervals of 30 seconds running/30 seconds walking for a total of 20 minutes. That's not on the plan, but since I'd been under the weather it seemed like a good way to get started again and be confident about it.
After that, I finished out week 5 which culminated in a 20-minute run. Solid running. 20 minutes. I was hoping I'd go out and crush it, but I had to do a little walking. I found that at the end of each street in the neighborhood where I run I'd give myself 10 or so seconds of walking for my thighs to unfurl. It was a good effort, and I was satisfied. When did I ever think I'd run 20 minutes? Ever.
Getting into week 6, the intervals dropped back to 5 mins running/3 mins walking; 8 mins running/3 mins walking; and 5 mins running. Doable, right? Because I just finished a 20-minute (or so) run!
It's funny how our brains mess with us. Saturday, my last run day before today, was pretty foul. That 5/8/5 was a beast to get through with far more stopping and walking than I'd like. I did a freaking 20 minute run just a few days before. I kept thinking, "WHY AM I WALKING RIGHT NOW?" But I was. Because something in me said I "had" to.
Which is a crock. A total crock. While it's true that we should listen to our bodies and be honest with ourselves if we're in genuine pain, or overly fatigued, our brains are sneaky little idgets. As I was running those 5/8/5s I was not breathing particularly hard. I'm at a point now that I can breathe comfortably through my workouts. That is, I'm not wheezing or gasping for air; I'm winded but I can talk through it. I wasn't in a lot of pain...no cramps, no sharp stabs, just the ache of exertion in my quads, thighs, butt, and calves. The usual stuff.
So why was I WALKING?
I was walking because my brain was telling me I needed to stop running because running is hard. My body was physically fine and could've kept moving at the same pace, but my brain was saying, "Hey, take a rest there, little lady." It's a mental tug of war.
Today I went out under less than ideal circumstances but better prepared mentally. I decided to repeat my 5/8/5s from week 6, day 1 since I struggled last time. I really like to finish a set strong before I move on.
I dragged myself out of bed at the 4:45 a.m. alarm and managed to get dressed and out the door by about 5. I did my warm up walking with an iffy stomach and circled back around to my house for a pit stop. Hmmphf. Also, my legs are extremely sore because I ran bleachers for the first time on Sunday. We're talking SCREAMING sore the likes of which I haven't felt since I started running on March 31. Not a great way to start the workout, but I decided to stay close to home in case things took a turn for the worse, and it was probably the best thing I could've done.
My street is roughly half a mile long, and it's one of the best-paved streets in town with no pot holes or cracks to contend with in the mostly-dark mornings. The street is also a steady, but not too intense, incline whereas my usual route is more varied with some uphill and downhill stretches. While I was a little nervous about the incline and the way I'd been feeling earlier, I turned on my C25K app anyway, and away I went.
The soreness went away pretty quickly and my stomach was feeling fine. My breathing was good. I was sweating in places I didn't know I had places, but what's new, Texas? The first five-minute run went by surprisingly fast and smooth. It was also about half uphill and half down which was nice. Confidence boosted.
The next interval, the 8-minute run, was mostly uphill. Hahaha, that's where my brain kicked in with, "Hey girl, those quads are burning a little. Don't your knees ache? How about stopping to mop your face? Take a breather!"
NO THANK YOU, BRAIN. I am not biting!
My legs were ridiculously fatigued by the end of the 8-minutes...mainly the sore quads. The three minutes of walking went by wayyyy too fast. I think I audibly groaned when the app told me to start on the last 5 minute run.
The last five minutes was mostly downhill which was great. I was tired and sweaty but still feeling good, all things considered. No tummy woes or wheezing gasps for breath. BOY HOWDY, my brain wanted me to stop and walk, though.
But I know it's just my brain. My body is doing things it has never done before, and my mind has been telling me since those first days of running in elementary school that I cannot possibly do these things.
I'm not a runner...or so my brain tells me.
I decide otherwise.