THIS HUMIDITY AIN'T GOT NOTHIN' ON ME
It's no secret that I absolutely loath running in the heat and humidity.
Mainly, it's because it makes running that much harder both physically and mentally. Physically, it can be difficult to breath, and you'll find yourself being blinded by sweat way sooner than normal. Plus, your body just can't be expected to perform at it's full potential in these conditions. Then, there's the mental side of things. You feel like you're going way way too slow. All you can think about is the heat/humidity and how it is negatively impacting your pace. You worry about heat stroke or heat exhaustion, yet you still aren't quite sure if you really need to take those extra breaks to simply rest+catch your breath.
It also isn't a secret that I've been know to have some really shitty runs during the hotter "dog days" of summer. I'm talking, running 10 minute miles for 6 straight miles and struggling all the way, shitty runs. On top of that, it's entirely too easy to blame these lack luster performances on personal issues. The negative talk/self doubt can take over the minute you see those mile splits at the conclusion of a particularly trying run. I know for me, it's always all about well I'm just not strong enough, fit enough, skinny enough, and I damn sure didn't try enough. But, I usually never take a second to reflect on how freaking amazing it is that I simply got out there and pushed myself, and got in the miles despite the weather.
With all of this in mind, I have been pleasantly surprised with just how well I've been able to run in the humidity this week.
Yesterday, I was particularly proud of how amazingly well I did at starting out fast and holding that pace, despite all the many moments over the course of my 3 mile run when I really struggled to just put one foot in front of the other. Heck, I even scored all "silver" medals on Strava for my 400 m, 1k, and 1/2 mile times. I was on fire. And, most importantly, I didn't let the weather (or anything else) limit me. I just hit the pavement at 5:20 am like I do every other morning and told myself that I was going to run "fast". No goal paces or agonizing over the read outs my watch would give me periodically over the course of my run. Just pushing myself with every stride.
I totally understand that running 3 miles at a 9:11 pace is nothing spectacular. It won't get you on an pedestal at the olympics or even a first place medal at most 5ks in my age group. However, for me personally and where I am at right now in my running journey, these are fan freakign tastic times. Especially for running outside in the dark, with rain puddles and mud everywhere you turn. Even better, I have running these super duper times pretty much every day since I committed to rehabing the right way for this injury/restricting mileage a ton. It has not been easy. It has not been fun the entire time.
On the other hand it has been incredibly rewarding and humbling.
Rewarding, in the sense that I finally got to get back to focusing on improving my times/speed over shorter distances. I've never really had a problem logging 9:00 or even 8:50 times over the course of say 6 or 7 miles. That's just basic math, and slowly increasing your speed at regular intervals. What I have struggled with since the very start of my running journey is starting out "fast" and then continuing to hold that pace for any length of time. I'm sure it's partly genetic, but a lot of it has to do with just not seeing myself as a fast runner. Not believing that my body is capable of running sub 9 minute miles.
Anytime I'm running those times, no matter how short or far, I feel like I've finally accomplished something in my running journey. Finally, proven that I'm the real deal when it comes to being a legit runner. In addition, this whole mileage restriction thing has really brought me back to what it feels like to start from zero with running. Back to those days of mile repeats and timed 2 mile loops during my senior year and first season of cross country. It was weird at first, having to focus on speed instead of distance. Now, it's like I physically cannot allow myself to have a slow/easy run. I crave the speed, the side stitches, the "wow this pace is really fast, but let's see just how long I can hold on."
I am chalking these past 2 runs up as major wins, even it they weren't PRs or PBs.
Today was even more humid than yesterday, and my legs were feeling a bit fatigued from yesterday's high volume leg workout. I even struggled right off the bat to find my rhythm and get going speed wise. No matter the millions of excuses I had in the back of my head for why I just couldn't push through and have a fast run today, it didn't matter. I ONLY get to run 3 miles this days, so I HAVE to make the most of every mile, every second out there on the pavement. And, that's exactly what I did. Sure, a 27:48 (9:16 average pace) is not quite the time I was looking to hit. But, it for damn sure isn't a bad/slow/half ass time.
Iowa weather is crazy and unpredictable. You never quite know what you're going to get from one day to the next. So, you can't let the weather tell you what kind of run you're going to have: how far you're going to go or how hard you're going to try. You just have to show up and give it everything you've got. Plain and simple. Oh, AND DON'T EVER LET THE HEAT/HUMIDITY WIN. Ever.