Thursday, November 12, 2009

Over Training...and Not the Running Kind

Much has been said about over-training. You know, the point where you've trained and trained and trained (with little to no rest), but instead of getting faster or being able to run farther, you start breaking down, resembling a groggy, bleary-eyed zombie...a shadow of your former self. No one wants to be around you and really, you don't want them to be. Well, that's not what this post is about...exactly.

For the past three days, I've been in training at work...I shall not bore you with the details. By the time 5:00 has rolled around, I have taken on the over trained, bleary-eyed zombie persona.

I thought perhaps today I had moved beyond this ugly Jekyll/Hyde transformation, it was after all my first day back at my desk for the entire day this week. I strangely found myself not only wishing for this but also thankful that it's a five day week so I can catch up. Yes, you read that, right. Let's absorb...and move on.

What I had not anticipated was the awful side-effect of staying late at work during daylight savings, i.e., the dark-to-dark day. I still had a tempo run to get after on my training schedule and few free nights/days remaining in the week to get it done. I lumbered into the house, shoulders pulled up to my ears, swearing, and stumbling into things. My neck still carried the stress of staring and clicking on too many excel sheets, putting out fires, and pecking away at the keyboard. Plus, it's been raining here for a few days contributing to the low morale and lower motivation.

Nevertheless, I changed into my running clothes, just hoping to crank out my workout, another line through the to-do list, and move on to getting dinner started.

I leashed up the dog, strapped on my iPod, and headed out the door. I've taken to using my warmup mile as Mattie's evening walk. On that front, so far so good. I don't think she's figured out that it's actually running yet.

Dave Matthews piped through my headphones (an awesome version of Warehouse that I love to warm up to because it's pretty high energy but nothing too heavy like the rest of my running mix) but I wasn't really hearing it. I was still in work mode. But then, we rounded the curve on to the main road about a half mile in (two Mattie pees later), and something magical happened.

I became aware.

Not of the pending to-do list that waited for me in the office tomorrow. Not of the meetings that I'd have to sit through. Not of the articles I'd have to write. Not about anything that had happened during the day. I became aware of myself, of my surroundings. Of the way the wet wind stirred the leaves and the way the street lights reflected off the storm clouds covering the sky. I was aware of the current of breath flowing in and out of me.

You could call it a zen-like moment; a runner's high. Whatever it was, I felt good. Detached from everything else going on in my life except for that one thing: All I had to do was run. And I as I zipped along, the pace coming easier, I kept repeating, "my time, my time, my time," over and over because that's just what it was. This six-mile tempo run was all for me, and for no one else.

I dropped the dog off at the house and headed back out to complete the speedy part of my tempo run, revived, rejuvenated, and aware. Whatever may come tomorrow will come and I'll meet it head on. But when I take to the roads again this weekend, next week, and beyond, no matter what the workout is, it will be mine. And no one else's.

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