Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My Brain is a Jerk

I'm up to week 6 of Couch to 5K and getting to this point has taken me about 10 weeks (here's a list of the intervals if you're curious). Something like that. There's a whole other post coming on how to make C25K work for you because it might not work straight out of the box. There is tailoring to do, but not today. Not today.

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. 


  1. You are such an ass kicking wonder woman. You make me want to challenge myself.

    1. No, YOU are an ass-kicking wonder woman! Love you so much! And I miss you. Now that I've had some f2f Amanda time, I need moooore!

  2. I used to have this on my refrigerator many years ago and thought you'd enjoy it.

    WHY DO I RUN?....
    ain't no mystery,
    wanna have a good medical history
    Doctor told me running is great,
    helps them blood cells circulate!
    Great for the lungs.
    Great for the ticker.
    Can't nothin' get you in better shape quicker.
    Mouldin' my muscles,
    smoothin' my form,
    Pantin' like a pack mule,
    sweating up a storm.
    Keeps me youthful,
    keeps me loose,
    Tightens my tummy and
    shrinks my caboose.
    -author unknown-

    1. Hahahaha! I love this so much. Will have to print and put this on my own fridge. :)

  3. This post is AWESOME! Your dedication and determination is so inspiring. It IS all a mental game, and our stupid brains want nothing more than to talk us out of it. I have a mental struggle almost daily when I get up to run, and some days my brain wins out. I know I shouldn't give in and it just makes me angry and more determined to succeed. I get up the next morning and push myself to make up for it. And I always feel better afterwards, knowing I didn't give up or give in.

    You are doing such an awesome job, Andi.

    1. Thank you, Brandie! You'd think our brains would SUPPORT us, but nooooo! They have to be so persnickety. Thank you for your ongoing support, Brandie! YOU are definitely one of my inspirations!

  4. Yep, it's all a mental game as much as a physical one. I know you're gonna cursh this program!

    1. Thank youuuu! Already have the 10K trainer app downloaded. I won't jump into it immediately, but that's the next long-term goal!

  5. Kill it. Keep killing it.

  6. Love this! We are so much more capable of doing hard things than we think we are. Keep sharing your challenges and victories! -Laila/Big Reading Life

  7. Andi, you are spot on! It totally is a mental game. My brain is always telling me to quit and it sucks. Its so hard to turn it off. I have to admit to giving in more than I should and I know that I need to stop that. You are such an inspiration! Thanks for your honesty - you are a rock star!! Keep on kicking ass!!

  8. Yes, I wasn't prepared for the mental aspect of it, for some reason. Still not entirely sure what to do to best push through.

    1. The best I can do is think, "Legs, you CAN keep moving even though you want to stop." lol

  9. UGH - runner's trots are the worst!! I get them from time to time and it's such a terrible feeling. And - walking is such a mental thing - I allowed myself to walk for about 100 feet during my triathlon the other weekend and was SO mad at myself afterwards.

    Keep it up - you're doing great!

  10. Yay for you, girl! It's the worst when your brain starts telling you lies -- because I have depression/anxiety, my brain is aces at telling me lies, and it gets really tiring to spend all this time sorting out what messages from my brain are useful vs what ones are not. It's a lot of crap to sort through, and it's such a success when I manage to ignore the crap and do what I want to do anyway.

  11. Oh yes!! This is my never ending battle with running. I have been running 10ish years now, and the mental game is still the hardest thing for me. You could be in Olympic athlete shape and your brain will still tell you that you CAN'T. I think this is one of the hardest things for me to explain to non runners about why I run. Yes, I enjoy the physical exertion and strength gains. But the constant mental challenge (and the feeling when you finally overcome the barriers your brain has set for you) will keep me at this for years. It's about so much more than just covering mileage.

  12. Sounds like you are doing great! I really resonated with this since I remember being quite surprised at the mental aspect of running, especially after the initial "I'M GOING TO DIE" physical response of beginning. I anticipated the physical but really had no idea how much self-talk it was going to take (and still takes, if I'm honest). I watched your video today and was so happy for your positive experience with greater mental, physical, and emotional effects from the exercise. Good job and keep it up :)

  13. You are killing it, Andi, and I love that you're sharing all of your running journey. Have you looked to see if there are any running clubs or training groups in your area? I always thought groups were intimidating (I was a member of my club for over 6 months before I finally pushed myself to actually go run with the group), but have fallen in love with my local club now that I've gotten involved. I find running with somebody for my hardest runs (long runs or speed work, which I hate and am also very bad at) keeps me going in a way that doesn't seem to happen when I'm on my own. And then it gives my brain a bit of "you know you can do this, you did it last week with the group" when I'm pushing myself on solo runs.


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