Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When You Can't Let it Go

Tonight, I planned to blog about getting stuck in what I've come to call a "route rut," i.e. running the same route over and over again, week in and week out, and the utter monotony that ensues (thrilling, I know).  But my run tonight didn't exactly turn out how I had planned and I wanted to capture it.

Normally, I try to compartmentalize the work side of my life from the running/home side .  As trying as this can be at times, I can normally shed the burden of a tough work day within the first mile of my run.  Tonight, unfortunately, was not one of those nights.

I had a particularly frustrating day at work (no need to relive it here) - and the plan was to let the run melt that frustration away.  The workout called for 5x1200m followed by 4x200m.  I've been doing intervals through the neighborhood, meaning that I run these on some substantial hills but it's worked out well over the last eight weeks. 

I finished the first one in 4:07 and felt like I paid for it.  I sucked some major wind by the end but the recovery jog felt ok.  I headed out for the second one, felt like I was cruising, really pushing it and feeling the flow.  Clicked stop on the watch: 4:19, "What the f&*%?!?"  I was pissed.  There was some self-loathing, a little berating. 

Then I tried to pull it together, telling myself I still had three left to run.  I reached back to my days as a hockey goalie and tried to liken the situation to letting a goal in.  There was that moment of let-down and a question of confidence, but the trick was to simply keep it to a moment and move on, put it passed me.  Embracing that idea tonight, I set off on my third interval. 

It was worse.  And each one after was two seconds slower than the last.  The frustrating part was that I felt as if my legs were really churning.  On the odd loops, I ran through a strong headwind.  On the even loops, the uphills outnumbered the downhills.  I just couldn't get it to click.  When my legs got really heavy, and the lactic acid storm raged like a hurricane, the events from the work day seeped back in and seemed to sap whatever strength I had left from me.  I pushed harder and harder.  I called it a character run, reminded myself they couldn't all be great, remembered the PR from Sunday, and knew this was the third of three tough days in a row.

I took an extra minute after the 1200s were finished to refocus for the 200s.  Slingshotting around the turn, I again went into the storm but pumped my arms, willing them to lead me forward.  I clicked the watch: 27 seconds.  A shining spot on an otherwise dark workout. 

The 200s salvaged this cold interval night.  I wanted to get this down tonight to look back on when I not only encounter other bad workouts, but also for the good ones.  I just have to acknowledge the moment the puck slid across the line and then forget about it so I'm ready to make the next save....

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