Random musings on running and beating myself up

Running season started again for me last week.  I signed up for my 2nd Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon and the lengthy  training program at our local Y.  I haven’t run much since I finished the inaugural Women’s  Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend.  It started out innocently enough, taking a break to rest and bask in the glory of completing two halfs within a year.  Initially I had plans in my head to run a third half in either October or November. But as the weeks progressed I found that i just wasn’t doing any training to get the job done.   I hadn’t  registered for either, so there was no immediacy to the situation and i just chose not to train.  I ran a  5k Turkey Trot over Thanksgiving and hoped it would motivate me to to at the very least start a regular work out schedule of running 3 times a week and add in some cross and strength training.  But it was the holidays and I was busy and full of excuses. I had also started smoking regularly again and the next I knew it was Christmas. I knew training would start on the 16th of January and that become I’ll just enjoy and slack off until running season gets here.  I put about ten pounds back on during that time, not to mention  the hard earned muscles I’d garnered from earlier training had turned to mush.  I began last week very excited but knowing I am terribly out of shape.

The thing is, I am excited to be training again, and even though that first run last week in the cold and wind was brutal, I enjoyed it.  Mentally this time is different. I’m not getting that runners’ high from these limited runs because at this point they are a struggle to finish without walking.   I also sort of feel like I’m in a don’t really belong anywhere no man’s land.   This year they are offering two levels of training, beginner and advanced.  I didn’t want to mentally put myself in either of those places. I don’t feel like a beginner, I’ve done this before. I know what I’m doing and how my body will respond.  The advanced program calls for higher mileage, and I am woefully out of shape. At first I was like, It’s no big deal, it is just more miles, I know I can do this so I signed both of us up for the advanced knowing it was all the same group and we could talk to the coaches and make the right  choices on a run by run basis.  Except for I don’t like living in case by case basis world, I like to have a set plan and stick to it.  The Husband recently suffered a back injury that revealed he has disc problems in 3 places.  He has gone through rest, has had one epidural injection to ease his pain and he agreed to  sign up for the race and training program so we could do it together again. He probably shouldn’t be doing extra mileage and so far has declined to do so.   His pace could be much faster than mine, when left  to his own devices he runs about a ten minute or slightly less pace and I am still in the 12+ range, that is a pretty slow pace for a runner.   None of the other runners in our advanced group are that slow. No no one is telling me I shouldn’t be in the advanced group, the advanced coach is one of my personal hero’s. He always comes back to the end for me and helps me finish my run, doesn’t admonish me when I have to walk for a bit and always gently coaches me to the end and pushes me further than I planned to push myself.   But in spite of that I found myself choosing the 2 mile options vs the 3 mile advanced option last night.  I  made this decision mid run for reasons I will outline in a moment, but he was expecting to see me do 3, and had to go back and look for me when I didn’t do it. I inconvenienced him and caused him concern, I felt really badly about this.   Though it only re-iterated what I already  knew.  If I choose to pursue the advanced path, if I choose to declare myself and advanced runner in this training group, I am always going to finish last on probably every training run.

Then there is the stubborn and injury factor.  Last year I started out of shape and by mid February had run myself into a stress fracture on my right foot.  I was in a boot, dealt with the mental and physical set backs and went on to run  my very first half  marathon with no problems.  One of our coaches is very familiar with my stubbornness and it has been a topic already this year, spoken out loud in front of everyone.  I don’t mind it, I know it is true and for me it is sort of a badge of honor. A lot can be overcome with stubbornness, but it can also cause a lot of problems.  When I was training for the  Women’s half I started to notice a familiar feeling in my left foot.  I simply ignored it.  I wear heels a LOT, my appetite for shoes and especially heels is not secret to those that know me.  I wear them to work, I wear them  on GNO.  I like them high, the higher the better and most of my heels I wear on a regular basis are 4″ or taller.  I’m already 5’8″ and I like being even taller in heels.  I notice when I wear them that sometimes by left foot does not like this, especially  in the part of my foot where the big toe meets the foot.   This  same spot started talking to me almost immediately last week after that first run.  I’ve been ignoring it. Thinking maybe I will try to solve the problem with new shoes and the inserts I  already wear to help prevent further stress fracture injuries.   last nigh when I headed out for the 3, it started in the first half mile. I made the decision at the turn to do the 2  because it would be better for my foot. Maybe my foot would reward my scaled  back effort by not hurting after.   Bad news, my foot is unaware or unwilling to accept this plan.

So here I sit, not even two full weeks into another running season, wrestling  emotionally with what all this means. I KNOW it means I should make an appointment to go see Dr.  Hate, that I should start mentally planning to be in that damn boot on another foot for 4+ weeks and find a way to NOT repeat the mental pit party and slacking I indulged in last year.  I’m already in  a much better place. There isn’t a lot I’m wrestling with emotionally this year. I’m not hiding a 3rd chat career from my husband, I’m over PJ and all of the Almost Divorce shenanigans.  All in all things in my life are quite good. So why don’t I feel more  empowered and strong and badass right now?   I’ve quit smoking all things, and I feel so much better having done so.  There is limited nicotine and  THC working itself out of my body. I’m mentally and physically healthier than I have been in the last 3+ years.   I’m getting my brain back as each week passes and my mental acuity and focus continues to climb. I’m more focused and plugged in at work and home.  By all accounts I should be feeling pretty good about myself right now.  I don’t have anything mental to wrestle on runs other than daily life and work stressors. By all accounts I should be setup to push my body to even higher limits and bring  my pace time down closer to the sub 11 minute mark.   I  should be in super runner ninja kick-ass mode, but I’m just not.   Instead I just feel sort of meh about the whole thing.  I sit here hiding from the pain in my foot, the feeling that I don’t really belong in that advanced group and  wondering why on earth at almost 41 years old after everything I have   triumphed over that I still feel the need to beat myself up as harshly as possible when  things don’t go just like I expected.

I don’t have an answer.  But I do know what needs to be done, it’s the same basic answer to all problems, put on my BGP and  own it.   So tomorrow I will call Dr. Hate and  make an appointment, but I will also complete my scheduled 3 mile pace time trial and push myself as hard as my body and lungs will go. I’m going to downgrade myself to the beginner category and if later in training I feel like I can and should take on more mileage I will. There isn’t anything wrong with me if I choose to be smart instead of stubborn for once.   If he says it’s boot time again I will do it without the pity party that accompanied last year.  I can do upper body strength work outs while The Husband runs and I can pick up mileage as soon as he clears me.  Rather than hide from the problem I can face it and make my contingency plan.  Maybe it won’t be a new stress fracture and everything  can continue as planned. In the meantime  I will simply choose to BREATHE and not wallow in the meh.   I’ll probably still be wearing 5″  heels on Saturday night though, a girl has to hold on to some stubbornness.

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