"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.