BEING PRESENT...FOR 7 WHOLE MILES
It's a lot more difficult than it sounds, especially when all you want to do is zone out.
Go to your happy place. Pretend everything is just fine. Ignore e v e r y t h i n g. Or, just focus on having as much fun as possible. Because, at the end of the day, isn't that what running is all about? Sure there are the obvious health benefits and emotional clarity that it offers. But, if you're looking to make running a lifelong joy/hobby/passion/etc. you should probably be deriving some happiness from it...right?
It's hard to find just the right balance between fun and seriousness when it comes to run. Whether you're just running to run or training for a big huge scary race like I am currently, there are going to be those days where you just NEED to be present for the entire run. You'll need to be acutely aware of how you're body is responding not only to the mileage, terrain, pace,...but also the new shoes you're trying to break in. Oh, and running in the rain absolutely necessitates being present so you don't end up slipping in the mud and messing up your body any farther than it is already messed up.
Personally, I feel like I already got my "fun" runs in for the week on Wednesday and Thursday.
When you know for a fact that you have to cut back on mileage and take it easy on your body zoning out is almost encouraged. Otherwise, you'll find yourself dreading having to cut things short at the 5 mile mark because your hip is starting to cause you just enough pain to make going further "too risky." So, you tell yourself to just sit back, relax, and enjoy these "short" 5 mile runs. Make the most of these days, because sooner than you think, you'll be back to running 6-9+ miles on a fairly regular basis. Besides, 5 carefree miles beats 7-9 intensely present miles any day.
So, I gave myself permission to try for 7 miles this morning...on the condition that I actually listened to my body, and actually made an effort to be present. Luckily, listening to the same playlist during my runs for the past 9 days has made being present pretty doable. There's no guesswork or wondering if I'll hear the right music at the right time, or trying to anticipate which song will play next. Instead, it's a combination of running mindfully, and really hearing the lyrics. Listening to your own breathing. Making sure that all systems are running smoothly.
By far, the hardest aspect of being present on such a long run like today, is not judging yourself when you feel like you're not moving fast enough.
I've trained myself to ignore my watch for the most part when it beeps at me that I'm not on pace. But, after running the same route so many times, I can tell based off of feel whether I'm running what I would consider a fast time (9:15-9:30) or a slow time. For the first 3 miles, everything felt fine. I didn't feel like I pushed too far on the uphills, and I was able to pull back a little and maintain good from on the downhills as well. Running felt easy for once, and I was convinced that 7 miles was for sure happening.
As I neared the 4 mile mark, I didn't even give taking a second lap around 11th street a second though. Yeah, I was starting to slow down at this point, but I still felt like I was running good. There wasn't a whole lot of unusual pain, and I was in good spirits. When I had to run the long stretch up the four lane to get back above the rail road tracks, I actually didn't mind the fact that it seemed to take longer than normal and I seemed to be slowing down even more. That was okay, because today, I was just focusing on doing whatever my body was ready for.
The closer I got to the finish line, the more I realized just how exhausting running can be.
I know it sounds blatantly obvious, but with the wind today and still being a little bit "broken" physically, running is very much a challenge. Like, right now, even though I was able to run 9 miles last Sunday...I couldn't even imagine running that distance or another fastish 10 miler like I ran back in April. Mentally, it wouldn't be THAT hard. Physically, it would be a struggle to the bitter end because my pacing is sill now where it needs to be for those longer distances. The fact that I ran a 9:59 average pace today is an eye opener for sure. Mainly, because I feel like I have been somewhat taking it "easy" in the runs leading up to this one.
Sure, not 2-4 mile easy...but still easyish. I have been icing religiously every day, and stuck to my stretching routine for the most part as well. Heck, I even put a crap ton of BioFreeze on 30ish minutes before running today. Still, I guess the only real solution to fixing my mess of a lower body is less mileage and rest. Not so sure I can really commit to running anything under 5, but, if it means I just might get to have more long runs where I can zone out the entire time without the worry of injuring myself...it might be worth it.