Training Week 4 is complete with 16 miles under foot for the week. The other thing Week 4 brought me was an important lesson. Week 4 taught me to fight! What does that mean?? Well, let’s review the week, and I’ll explain.
This week started with a challenge right from the jump. This week was a 6 day run week. Ugh. 6 days running, with only 1 day off. Mentally, it made me feel 10 pounds heavier, because when you carry worry around, you might as well be carrying a 10 pound bag of cement on your shoulders. Put it down. Your body mind and spirit will thank you. So, already, the lessons were starting. Shed the worry. Go back to the myopic vision. (How many times are you gonna hear someone encourage that in your life?) Well, in the case of long-term goals, myopia, or short-sighted vision, is an important tool. One day at a time. One goal at a time. One step at a time. Forget the big picture. Tune out the peripheral vision. There is no tomorrow. There is only today. In fact, there is only N.O.W.
So, Monday, Friday and Saturday required 1.5 miles each. Wednesday and Thursday asked for 2 miles each. All completely doable. These light weight runs were leading up to the exclamation point of the week. Sunday. The long run. This week, Sunday is asking for 7.5 miles. Holy Batmobile, Batman!! That’s really far. We’re starting to get up into the mileage I used to ride on my bike. This sort of mileage isn’t meant to be done on foot. I mean, isn’t this part of why man invented the wheel in the first place?
I had to remind myself to take a chill pill. It was only Monday and I was mentally focused on Sunday, which was 6 days away. Today. Today is where my focus belonged. So I ran the week and made myself forget about Sunday…… for now.
Another problem showed itself this week. WINTER ARRIVED. Yeah, Brrrr. I mean, it IS January in New Jersey, so it was inevitable. But the mild winter thus far was suiting me just fine. It enabled me to get a running habit underway before I had to start fighting the bitter cold. I mean, I prepared myself for the cold with winter gear. I ordered layers of running gear from the Under Armour website. So I have tights and fleece, hats and gloves, wool socks, and Santa brought me a North Face vest, which I think will be coming out of the closet this week. (Love you Peter…I mean Santa!)
So the treadmill got alot of use this week. I ran all my short runs, except Saturday, on the treadmill at 5mph at a 2.0 incline. The runs went well, pretty uneventful, and here I was on Saturday. Saturday was cold — 20 degrees F, with a wind, but I needed to head outside. Are you asking why? Well, I needed Saturday to be my “test run” for dressing myself, figuring out how many layers I needed, so I was warm enough on Sunday, but not too hot. Both of these are bad, and it was better to make the mistake on Saturday during a 1.5 mile run in the neighborhood, than make it during a 7.5 mile run away from home. Saturday taught me how to fight the winter weather. Yup, fight. I had to learn how to win this fight, because THIS was the single most worrisome thing I had to come to terms with when I chose to sign up for an April Half Marathon. Running through the Winter is not for Wooses. And I think I’m a Woos!! LOL. So, back in October, when I signed up for the Half M, I had to commit to Fighting Winter, but THIS WEEK — I actually had to DO IT and Win! Dedication and commitment is important, but preparation was the key to getting it done. Never forget that. YOU either set yourself up for success or failure. Decide which outcome you want and see it through! It can be that easy.
Sunday morning came, and I delayed my run an hour longer than normal, hoping the temps might rise a bit, but it wasn’t going to happen. I stepped outside a little before 9am, and it was about 19 degrees F, with a wind chill that made it feel like 7 degrees F. Holy Smokes! I wasn’t sure what to worry about most, the weather or the 7.5 miles ahead of me. They both were weighing on my mind. And here’s the thing. It really IS all in your mind. Shortly into my run, I remembered the magic formula of running. Running adds 20 degrees. My internal furnace was kicking in and I was warming up and felt, well….GOOD. I peeled off my gloves and swapped my hat for a headband that covered my ears. My stride kicked in and I was feeling Ok in the legs department. But that didn’t last because new factors started to play an important role. The most important one was…..well, BREATHING. Yeah. It was much harder to breathe in the cold air and the wind. I found myself getting short of breath and tired. I fell into the trap of walking. I hated that I had to do it, but I needed it. And that’s what the 7.5 miles became. A fight with myself to finish it, and to run as much of it as I could. At one point, there I was on the corner of a neighborhood street, almost 4 miles from my own, feeling like I wanted to quit. But this is EXACTLY why I was outside, and not on the treadmill. On the treadmill, in that moment, I would have hit the Red STOP button, and Quit. But standing on that street corner, in 7 degree F weather, there was only 1 way to get home, and that was by my own foot power. After that realization, the fight with myself became about this one fact….I will get home faster IF I RUN!. And so off I went. Running Home.
I finished the 7.5 miles in 1 hour and 34 minutes; which is an average pace of 12:30. When I hit my street sign which marks my personal “finish line”, I felt AWESOME. All the inner chit-chat about “how much did I walk? could I have done better?” was gone. The chill of the cold only felt like success. I walked my cool down home and knew I had learned an important lesson that day. This fight I had just won over the 7.5 miles, was likely exactly how the Half Marathon would feel. I would have to run, maybe walk a little, and will myself to keep going. Will myself through those 13.1 miles, fighting with my doubt, with my exhaustion, with my fears. I didn’t realize until Sunday, that I was a fighter. I know I wasn’t one when I got up off the couch that first day. I BECAME a fighter somewhere along the way, and it feels SO GOOD!!! I know now that whenever you set your target on a goal that requires your investment of time and physical effort, part of the payoff of training is building that fighter instinct.
So week 4 taught me to fight, and the best part about running from here on forward is the KNOWING that every mile from here is all about strengthening my inner fighter along with strengthening my body. And this little fighter is an important partner in this process. Because on Half Marathon Day, my inner warrior is going to carry me over the finish line, miles after Diane thought she couldn’t go any further.
Ciao for now……Diane