Monday, May 30, 2011

Why do we consciously beat up ourselves over and over again?

With the doggie after hot & long
Sunday run
Idea for this post came up during my late afternoon run last Thursday. It was pretty hot (around 28 °C / 85 °F) and few other circumnstances made me think thoroughly about my running knowledge, motivation and purpose. Sometimes we need to forget in order to be able to wake up and become conscious about our bodies and remember all the thruthful knowledge we learnt through often painful mistakes.

I have been seriously into running for two years now (happy anniversary to Nike+ and myself on May 16, 2011) and I have read tons of articles about running, nutrition, training, gear etc. And still I slip from time to time and fall back in the beginners' mistakes. On the other hand, I am in my first time ever full marathon training and that brings some new aspects to the training routines. One of the hardest parts is sleep. I know that I can be way more productive while getting 7-8 hours of sleep, my week day routine is closer to about 6 hours though. And here I talk productivity in the "normal" work-life balance. Add increased mileage every week and the necessary recovery, 6 hours is then apparently not at all enough. 

Getting more sleep is one of the biggest challenges for my marathon training. I succeeded in the fourth week of my training (May 16-22, 2011), but the last week my social life was richer and my sleep was not so great. And I was not even going out, I invited my friends to come over, so I could influence the menu (important for the nutrition quality) and got earlier to bed than when going out. Thursday afternoon there I was, went our earlier than I should have (wanted to get some spring tan), had less sleep than I should have had and did not use anti-chafing stick. At least I got some snack to have enough energy for my 6 miler.

The first mile was tough, I felt my shins simply because I was tired and I also tightened my laces to much. I had to stop in order to release them. I realized that this run is not going to be about going fast, this run is about finishing. The positive shift came in, just realizing that I did wrong almost everything I could (not enough sleep and excess heat) made me stronger. OK, here I am, I cannot change what I did wrong, now it is about finishing while feeling the best I can. Really strange the human psychology, once you know it is about the fight, it makes you stronger. About the middle of the run, I knew I was going to finish strong. Extremely hot, but strong. 

Unfortunately, another feeling was creeping in - my thighs are rubbing each other on the inside. I am used about this happening on my long runs, but I unfortunately forgot about two important conditions. 1) My "normal" runs are getting closer with distance to the runs previously seen as "long" (eg. 6-8 miles used to be long, but it is becoming normal week day run for the marathon training); 2) Since this was one of the first really summer-like-hot spring days, I forgot to think about the heat that increased the sweating that increased the amount of salt and minerals drying on my skin => ideal thing to make your thighs or armpits uncomfortably scratched. 

At the end of the day = at the end of the run, I was so happy about being able to finish, I even forgot about all the trouble I caused to myself. Winning each of these small battles, fighting with your own feelings makes you stronger of every forthcoming fight. Not all the runs have purpose of finishing faster or finishing longer distance. The main goal of some runs is just the mental will to finish. Finishing such a run makes you stronger for all the future runs and increases your motivation. And doing such a rookie mistakes as I did will assure that you will not forgot about these golden rules for many more runs or even forever.

Lessons learned: get enough rest and sleep, fuel your body well, do not forget that running in extreme heat is way more demanding and it makes some processes go faster. You get thirsty sooner, so you might need to drink even for shorter runs, you can also get chafing way faster than on a "normal" temperature run, so do not forget to apply anti-chafing gel on the incriminated areas before running (this is a must before any long-distance run!).

Stay tuned, sign up for email updates or RSS feeds or leave a comment, tell me about your story or send me a link to your blog! And just keep running and listen to your body.

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