the right way to beat yo’self

(N.B. this is not a post about BDSM.  Sorry.)

In the field of athletic things, I have a long track record of beating myself up (i.e. the wrong way).  It is always “I could have been faster” or “I didn’t leave it all out there” or “I really should lose some weight before I sign up for X, Y, or Z.”

Which made what happened today pretty freaking phenomenal.

Ya’ll – I had a running breakthrough.

So let’s set a little context here …

Context part 1 – I have not run in the past 9 days.  My running muscle memory is about, hmm, 26 hours.  So this is a long time to not strap on the tennies – especially for a 9 mile training run.  I still did worky-out things – things like acting as referee for our neighborhood Fallympics party.  Drinking while judging people tossing glow necklaces on fake penises is athletic, right?

Context part 2 – I have not run 9 miles in (mumble mumble) a long time.  I am not even really sure what that long time is.  I did the Richmond half marathon last year, but had an injury early in training so had to walk for about 3/4 of a mile somewhere around mile 9.  Before that, it would have been my first half – in 2010.

Context part 3 – for our anniversary this year, Michelle bought me a garmin watch #winningatmarriage.  I generally do not get into the whole technology for sports thing.  But guys, this thing is amazing (like the gift giver).  It legitimately makes me go (my version of) fast.  The little pace thing acts like some twisted pavlovian bell – I get the mile beep, look at the pace, and either (1) say “I am doing pretty well, I should try to keep this up” or (2) “boo, I need to go faster.”  Seriously – if you like running or don’t like running but do it because you like beer – get yourself one of these.  Or get a spouse who will buy you one.

Don’t take my spouse – she is a keeper.

So with that context … I had a crappy mile 1 of 9.  I got to the end, and pavlov let me know “bitch, you are slow.”  9:21 pace, which is fine and all, but I have hit around 9:10 the last few times I have hit that first mile.  And since my runs only go down from there, this was not good news.

So I made a decision.  An arguably stupid decision.  Rather than give myself a hard time about mile 1, I decided to lay it all out there for mile 2.  Maybe not sprint, but like 75-80%.  Why was this probably stupid?  See Context point 2.

Mile 2 felt good.  And my time reflected it.  So I said “fuck it, let’s give it another mile.”  And miracle or miracles, mile 3 felt good.

So the questionable decisions continued, and I thought “well, let’s see how long we can maintain this.”

This could have gone very very bad.  Like “sprint through mile 4, collapse, and realize I still have five miles” bad.  Or like injury bad.

But instead this happened:

In my little world of averaging about 9:39, this is pretty groundbreaking.  But let me tell you why …

  1. I kind of had fun running.  My hip felt better than it has in forever.  I felt like I found a groove.  And I finished the run with everything left on the road.  And that was actually kind of fun.
  2. Well damn ya’ll, I could have been finishing my distance runs faster than I have which would have meant a shorter time between starting the run and having a glass of wine in hand.  But now I know.
  3. Remember my last post about getting better?  2 and 10!!  And I shaved!!!
  4. But I think mostly it felt like a good reframe (shout out to the head-shrinker spouse).  A bad first mile traditionally has me beating myself up … but this one had me beating my old self (see what I did there?  I am a damn self-help book, ya’ll)

Oh, and I got to wrap the evening up like this:



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