Last Sunday I finished my run on the treadmill and looked outside at the grey rainy day with dread. I had decided since I had missed a full week of work that I would head into the office to play a bit of catch up. It was by choice–no one asked or even suggested that it was necessary that I make up the time–it was my idea.
The six miles I got in were undoubtedly energizing and I had a protein shake and snacks packed and ready to get me through a considerably shortened work day. Still, the weather was working against me; the gloom started to infiltrate my mind and chase back all the endorphins that were pumping away in my system. All these garbage thoughts began swirling around in my head:
It’s gonna be a pain in the ass to commute in the rain.
It’s Sunday, the trains are probably running super slow.
I’m gonna feel gross the whole day since I’m heading straight into the office without showering.
Then something different happened. Instead of letting these thoughts permeate–I shut them up. I was tired of my own bullshit. I think it’s related to how much I’ve been contemplating time lately and how it often feels like it’s getting away from me far too quickly. I realized in that moment that all my moaning and groaning was a huge time suck–a waste of valuable minutes and energy. I had already committed to going into the office. I had brought an umbrella and worn my rain boots in preparation for the wet weather. It was a weekend and I had no set schedule so regardless of how slow the trains were running, I couldn’t be late. I had also packed a set of dry clothes which would provide more than enough cleanliness and comfort to work alone for 5 or 6 hours before getting back home to shower. On top of all this, I had picked this Sunday specifically because we had just come off of a short week with the holiday. It really didn’t feel too tiresome to spend a few hours of one of my days off in the office.
I realized that I could let the negative thoughts take up my time and even shape the rest of my day, or I could cut the crap and just continue on the path I had so constructively laid out. Basically I could whine, or I could just do it.
In my opinion, the brilliance of the Nike slogan is unending. It pops in my head at all different times, it always feels relevant. Lately I’ve been using it in yoga. Frequently I get winded between postures and tend to take my time getting into the next move in order to grab a few extra breaths. I often have teachers coaching me to get out of my head and get into the posture. There have been times when I’ve resented this remark. I work hard. If I need an extra breath that’s just me taking care of myself, it’s not a scapegoat. But, recently, in the spirit of being teachable I’ve decided to take their advice and get right into the postures, with the caveat that I can always fall out early if I need to. What I’ve found is that I have a lot more strength and energy than my mind lets on. I’ve even discovered that pacing and evening out my breath within a posture can be just as or even more rejuvenating than resting completely. I’m building a new muscle–one my mind has repeatedly convinced me I don’t have.
The benefits of this new mindset showed themselves in what turned out to be a pretty kick-ass tempo run this morning. I was able to maintain an 8:35 pace for a full three miles. While I’m not sure yet how that will translate to an actual 5k race (the controlled elements of the treadmill are quite conducive to keeping one’s pace), I’m optimistic that I am heading in the right direction. After a couple of months at this, I have to say that trying to run longer distances feels like such a linear process in comparison to trying to run faster. Each week you stretch those miles by a small percentage, then you step back, and then build again. Progress almost always seems visible. Working to get faster has been a bit different for me. I think this is the first time in about a month and a half that I really feel like I’ve had significant gains. I’ve shaved about 15 seconds per mile off of what I was running in the beginning of the year. But, while the progress of my performance might feel slower, my overall fitness feels like it’s never been better. I think the heavy focus I like to put on yoga and strength training melds together better with speed-work than it does with long slow runs.
Now that I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to for the day, I’m finishing out this weekend with the Big Ten Tournament final (Go Blue!) and then the Oscars later tonight. Hope everyone enjoys my favorite Sunday of the year!
What about you? Is there anything you’re wasting time and energy on by procrastinating or whining? What constraints has your mind put on you recently that you’ve come to realize are false?
How about my runners? Anyone have a preference on training to get faster vs training for distance?
Last–and MOST importantly…who’s ready for MARCH MADNESS?!?!
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