The most common reaction people have to my running is: Running takes such discipline - how do you make yourself run all those miles? And sometimes when I hear my name mentioned in the same sentence as the word discipline, a ripple of insecurity runs through me. Yes, I have logged some miles in the past 12 years, but I've never quite shaken the feeling that I'm just a poser - a closet couch potato masquarading as a runner. There are times when I feel like I'm just a few skipped workouts or unhealthy meals away from losing all credibility as a runner...times when that inner couch potato's voice is yelling louder than the inner athlete, convincing me that time with the television and some chocolate would be SO much more fun than a 10-mile run.
Last week was one of those times.
Monday morning rolled around and a 7-mile run was on the agenda. After I got the kids to school, I came home to grab a quick bite and noticed the carrot muffins in the pantry. Gotta eat something before I go run, right? So I gobbled it down, changed into my running clothes, and did a quick check of emails. By the time I started lacing up my shoes, I realized: That carrot muffin was awfully sweet and heavy. Not the best option for a pre-run meal. Ugh - who am I kidding? That was not a muffin at all...it was a big slab of sugary, fatty carrot cake disquised as breakfast. The schmear of cream cheese frosting should have tipped me off. How can I expect my body to perform if I feed it this crap? I cannot possibly run with this in my system. Maybe I should wait and run after it's digested. Or just skip running today. I am a bit sore, after all. I could use a day off. To rest. And recooperate. And repair. And eat another muffin!
Tuesday I woke up so infuriated with myself for skipping a run that I imposed a punishment run: 10 miles for you! I don't care what your schedule says! You must run to make up for your lazy ways! And no muffins for breakfast, either - just get out there and run! So I headed out the door before I could come up with an excuse. The wind was howling, I'd forgotten my gloves, and my stomach was growling. The first mile sucked. Hard. So did the second. Ouch. Usually by the third mile, things are warm and improving. But not today. At 3.5 miles, I caved, holding back tears, and realizing this whole run was going to suck. And I was too much of a weenie to finish it. So I headed home. And ate a muffin.
Wednesday I was ready to get back in the saddle. And then a flurry of frantic client emails and phone calls distracted me, I got busy, and my run got postponed until later. And later came and went, I was still busy, and the run never happened. Oh for the love of pete. What kind of runner am I, anyway?
Then it hit me - I am a human runner. The kind that makes mistakes and can't always be perfectly motivated. The kind of runner that sometimes screws up, rebels against the schedule, and throws in the towel for the day. It doesn't make mean I'm a poser, it simply means I'm human. And you know what? Running doesn't care how many days I take off - it's the most loyal of loves. It will always be there, waiting days, weeks, even years for you for to return. But running is also fickle - the longer you neglect her, the bigger bitch she'll be when you do come crawling back.
I'm proud to say I did turn the week around and eventually got my speedwork and a long run completed. Of course, neither were very stellar because the days off made it hard to get back into the routine. But I felt better just getting them done. And that's my reality: There are days when it feels good to skip the workout and be lazy, but it will always feel better to complete the run. It's always going to be a struggle to get past the roadblocks life puts in the way: I don't have time...I didn't eat the right breakfast...the weather sucks...I'm just too tired...but it's getting past those excuses that makes the final result all the more rewarding.
It's called discipline, folks. And if you can pull it off on a regular basis, you totally deserve a muffin.
Monday: Cross-train (weights)
Tuesday: Speed (10 x 400s)
Wednesday: 10 miles (slow & easy)
Thursday: Cross-train (Yoga)
Friday: Progressive Hills (6 miles)
Sunday: Long Run (20 miles)