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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Boost and Bust

Not gonna lie, I'm a little tired today.

It's been four months since I managed to complete more than two runs in the same week, and most weeks have had 0 or 1. Today, I went for my third run this week, and the second that was achieved by waking up on time. With my current work schedule, "on time" is 5:00 a.m.

I should say, I'm not a morning person.

However, I've found in the past that getting up and doing a workout is a great motivator for me. It gets the blood moving in the best way possible and puts me in a better mood from the get-go. Strangely, this wasn't the case for me on Tuesday, my other wake-up-on-time morning. I was happy that I completed the run, but I didn't get the same kind of energy boost that I've come to expect from early-morning runs, which is rather disappointing when you need that boost to carry you through a day you've started 90 minutes earlier than usual.

Today, I got the boost. It was killed by spending a lot of time in the car, but at least I felt it, and I can hope it'll be there if I get up and do it again tomorrow.

At the moment, however, I'm dragging pretty hard. This is something I've come to expect, of course. If I get up earlier, I'll be tired earlier. As much as I'd like to think that I'm just adding an hour to my day by getting up earlier, the reality is (most of the time) that I'm also removing an hour of sleep. Now, sometimes, that's an hour I don't need, like those days when I'm in bed for 10 hours just because I have nowhere else to be. But sometimes, like, say, after I spend an evening out at a concert and get to bed later than usual, maybe I just need the sleep.

So, I'll power through until an early-but-still-reasonable bedtime and see how it goes in the morning.

Or, based on how I'm currently feeling, perhaps early afternoon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


"Easier" is not the same as "easy."

I told myself this as I made a left turn this morning, changing my 4 mile run into a 3 mile run.

For the first time in far too long, I was embarking on my second run in as many days, and I felt really good about it. So good, in fact, that when my alarm went off, I almost thought I was still dreaming. Surely it couldn't be this easy to wake up so early after all the weeks and months I've spent hitting snooze. But it was. Alarm off, clothes on, quick pit stop and out the door. A total of 8 minutes from alarm to run, and I wasn't even hurrying.

My body has been craving this, and something in yesterday's workout must have opened the floodgates. I wanted to do four miles again. I wanted to see how I would compare in the cooler (but much more humid) air of the morning with a body that hadn't fully woken up.

Within half a mile, I could feel myself trying to push pace a little bit in order to enjoy the pseudo-breeze of the morning. It didn't feel "good," per se, but at least the air was moving and my skin wasn't baking. My watch found the satellites early and I found myself wanting to know if I was running fast enough. In short, I was building speed. Not a good plan.

I started thinking about all the other times I've gotten back into running and pushed myself too hard. And of course, of all the pain that came with that. I slowed down, and I turned left. Three miles is more than sufficient.

And still, I felt myself speeding up. It's only three miles, my legs told me. We can do this faster.

That's when the wisdom showed up. Easier is not necessarily easy. Yes, my run is one mile shorter, but that doesn't mean it has to - or even should be - faster. Sure, it's 78 degrees instead of 99, but that doesn't give me license to run my body into the ground over a training run.

I thought about what a faster pace or an extra mile would gain for me versus what it might cost. I remembered that the prospect of going too long, too fast, too early could only lead to trouble. Shorter run, slower pace.

Turns out, I was right. And I was rewarded.

At 1.5 miles, I hit a mini-wall very similar to the one I hit yesterday shortly before the turnaround point. My legs suddenly realized what we were doing and made their displeasure known. It was much easier to push through today, though, and one mile later, something wonderful happened. All the stress and strain in my legs released. My movements became fluid, and my pace quickened without any change in effort. In truth, it was probably slower than my last mile yesterday, but because I'd been smart early, it felt faster and I felt strong.

And there's a chance it'll get easier tomorrow.

Monday, July 11, 2016

If You Can't Stand the Heat

...then get up earlier.

It's an easy solution, really. Well, not easy, but simple.

Training outdoors in a Texas summer gives you only three options: heat, humidity, or some oppressive combination of both. Today, I battled the heat.

I've had a lot of trouble - and honestly made little effort - getting up early lately. As a result, I've gone for very few runs in recent months. With temperatures at or near 100 degrees in the afternoon and early evening, running after work hasn't really been an option for me. At least, not a sensible one.

This afternoon, I didn't feel like being sensible.

I had an overwhelming urge to go for a run today, and decided I would do so when I got home. As I stepped out the door, I could tell that it was going to be rough. The temperature was 99 with a heat index of 106. The most important thing was going to be keeping myself slow enough to finish.

The first half wasn't too bad, but as I neared my turn around point, the heat hit me like a ton of bricks, and as I turned around, I felt the sun on my face and my body heat went through the roof. I headed up a quarter-mile hill and at the top saw a stretch of trees providing some shade. For a moment, I considered stopping a moment and walking through the shade.

But I considered what it would mean to stop for the first time. This would no doubt lead to more stopping, which would only keep me out in the heat longer. There is a simple truth that occurs to me in moments like this: the faster you run, the sooner you're done.

As long as you don't run so fast you have to walk.

So, I kept myself moving, and with each step, I made a promise to myself to get up early enough to run in the humidity, not the heat. Sure, it's not perfect, but it's better than the alternative, which in turn is better than nothing at all. Today, I faced the heat.

Tomorrow, let's see how I face the alarm.