Up Next

Upcoming Races:

No races currently scheduled

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Focus

I think what I love most about running is the fact that it really helps me bring everything else that is happening in my life into better focus. For some people, these moments of clarity happen on the toilet. For others, it happens after a beer or twenty. For me, it happens around mile four.

It could just be that the long runs give me a lot of time to think, but I believe there's more to it than that. In addition to having quiet moments of reflection, I push my body and burn off a great deal of energy. I've always had a lot of energy. When I was training to be a teacher, my trainers remarked that I'd be great, if it were possible to keep up my level of excitement for an entire class session. When I did just that, they weren't sure how to respond.

There's a downside to being overly energetic, of course. Besides the fact that I often talk WAY too much in social situations, my brain shifts topics and moods rapidly, too, often leaving me exhausted just from my own wandering thoughts. I'll give you an example.

Say that I'm brainstorming some marketing ideas for one of my clients, and I haven't gone for my run yet. Most likely, I'll come up with lots of different scenarios, and I'll try a few of them out. One idea may not work for client A, but I'll think about it for client B, and wonder if that might work. Rather than write this down and continue with client A, I'll immediately shift my focus to client B. After all, there's no point in writing down a half-formed idea. And perhaps this method doesn't quite work for B, but if I tweak it just enough, I can make it fit. Oh, and also for client C...

Before I know it, I've got seven different windows open on my computer, running half a dozen strategies for four different clients, and I won't be getting anywhere near as much done as if I had simply worked my first idea to its end and then moved on. 

What does that have to do with running? The problem here is that I've got an abundance of "get up and go," but I've taken no time to get focused. I probably slept in, so my body's rested, but I overslept my sleep cycle, so I'm groggy. I haven't taken a shower yet (why bother if I'm running later), so I haven't cleared my head at all. And, I haven't eaten the high-protein food that I have after a run, so I probably had something with a heavy sugar base, setting myself up for a crash.

So now, I sit at the computer and realize that I've gotten completely off-track, and I have been listlessly roaming through my work all day. Yes, I'm getting the job done, but it's not up to my standards, and I can do better. I take a breath, put up an away message, and take my lunch break.

In the gym.

Then, I'm back. I've had a shower, some good protein, and a strong workout that uses a lot of energy, but somehow gives me more. Instead of the frenetic energy of sugar, however, it's a focused energy that lets me get things accomplished. When I can do this first thing in the morning, I know it's going to be a good day.

If. If I can do this first thing in the morning.

I wanted to do a treadmill run today for a couple reasons. The most obvious was that the temperature had dropped here once again, and I wasn't really up for a freezing cold workout. But also, I wanted to take a stab at staying on Boston pace for the whole 8 miles, just to see how it felt. I should have been planning a pace this entire season, but I've been so focused on finishing that I haven't spent any extra energy in developing a consistent goal pace. If I could do 8 miles at Boston pace without any problem, maybe I could do more.

The first two miles were great. So great, in fact, that I decided to increase the difficulty of the run. I reached for the speed buttons, but stopped myself. I didn't need to run any faster than the pace I was on in order to achieve my goal. What I did need to do was to run this pace on hills. That is the one thing that I always neglect in my treadmill runs, and if this pace was going to mean anything, I needed to be able to maintain it uphill.

So I increased the incline to 3, and I ran uphill for two miles.

And when I had finished, I could not wait to be done. I dropped the incline back to zero and caught my breath a bit. The exercise affirmed for me that I am not yet ready to tackle Boston pace for an entire marathon. And why should I be? This is only the second marathon of my life, and the last one was over 8 years ago. Where is the beauty of setting a goal for yourself if you don't have to work for it? 

Of course I'm not ready for that pace yet, but I think I can get closer than I'd originally planned, which is a victory in itself. 

Around mile 6, I vaguely considered bumping up the incline again, but a sharp pain in my leg said otherwise. I'm still not quite sure what it was, but it made me stop for about a tenth of a mile, and when I started back up, I slowed my pace by about 15 seconds per mile. It didn't bother me much for the rest of the run, but I wasn't going to push myself any harder than I needed. 

I think, at this point, I'm planning on starting out at a 7:30 pace for the marathon. That's about a 3:15-3:20 marathon, if I can keep it going the whole way, but this way if I need to slow up at all, the slower pace will still be within the time goal I set for myself.

This Sunday, I'll be running the first part of the course for the first time. I hear there's a steady incline early on, which will be good to see first-hand before the race. After that run (and tomorrow's run with the dog), I'll be in full taper mode, going for several short, easy outings to give myself a little rest before the big day.

And tomorrow, the big day will be on the ten-day forecast.

Today's Run:
Indoors / Treadmill
8 Miles
58 Minutes, 54 Seconds

No comments:

Post a Comment