Okay, so I’m a little angst-ridden today. Last night, I joined my friend Liz for a running-club-type event out at a local middle school track. The weekly meeting was run by a guy in a neon-green Running Store t-shirt, lasted for 40 minutes, and consisted of a series of “easy” and “pick-up” intervals in a specific configuration. We did a few sets of 60-second “pick-ups” and 30-seconds of “easy” pace…then did 5 minutes or so of “easy” turns and “pick-up” straightaways. It SHOULD have taken the place of the 35-40 minute run I should have done yesterday morning for my regular schedule, but didn’t because I had appointments scheduled early.
It did NOT.
Practice (guess I’ll call it that) began at 7pm. It was almost 90 degrees out, in full sun, and still quite humid. I had eaten something at about 5:30, thinking that was plenty of time to digest and be fine to run. I don’t know if it was the heat, the food in my stomach, or just my rotten attitude (which I tried to dispel, but not hard enough to succeed), but I was a WIMP today!! There were about 30 other people participating…all looking like bona fide runners, many with 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on their cars, working hard despite the heat, and it was all I could do to run at all! I’ve NEVER had a worse run workout, not even in the beginning. I was walking (speed-walking, usually, but still walking) the “easy” segments and jogging the “pick-ups.” Sometimes I ran faster than my average, but not every time. I had one stitch under my collarbone and another in my side…felt like I had no energy…just could not do it.
I wonder if I just run better alone. I told my friend at one point that I find that I’m tougher on my own. If there’s no one to complain to, I suck it up and get the job done. But if there IS someone there to complain to, I find myself complaining. And not just with running…with any kind of stressful situation. My capacity to endure hardship silently, tough it out, and maintain an optimistic and positive attitude seems far easier to me when I do not have someone with me whose presence tempts me to express negativity. Is that weird?? Do other people find that company in stressful situations improves their ability to endure, whereas with me, it’s the opposite?
Was I intimidated by the presence of so many other people who were clearly far more accomplished runners than I? Did I adopt the persona as the “worst runner” and therefore manifest that reality through my perception? I certainly felt like the least capable person there…did I convince myself that was true, and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy? I do believe that perception equals reality in most cases…and all the books I’m reading, be they sports psychology or general psychology, enforce the idea that perception and visualization become self-fulfilling prophecies. NRMT spends a lot of time talking about positive self-talk, identifying oneself as a “marathoner” from the outset of training, not something one will become by the end, and visualizing a marathon finish line with all one’s friends and family either running behind or cheering at the finish.
Or was it just that I was in a sour mood, or poorly timed my dinner, or was affected by the heat?
Oysh. It doesn’t matter. I have to focus on being as resilient in the face of more accomplished runners as I am on my own. I mean, CLEARLY, on December 4, I’ll be SURROUNDED by awesome runners!! And in the meantime, convincing myself that I AM ONE OF THEM is as important as finishing the physical training itself!!
Which means I gotta get serious. Mainly about my food intake. Here are my two most dangerous habits at the moment:
- Not eating much because it’s summertime, it’s hot, and I “forget to eat,” or allow myself not to eat because of stress and emotional instability due to a particular interpersonal situation I’m currently dealing with, and
- Loading up on crap and empty calories because, “Hey, I’m hardly eating, so I have room in my caloric intake to have this frappuccino / ice cream / 3 pieces of pizza because it’s veggie / Chipotle burrito / fill-in-the-blank with BAD BAD BAD FOOD.
I could be worse. I honestly don’t eat a lot of bona fide CRAP. I don’t keep chips and cookies in the house…my dinner is usually well-balanced…I’m not an ice cream hound or a soda drinker, and I don’t eat ANY fast food (except a once-in-a-blue-moon Chipotle burrito or Taco Bell chicken quesadilla…yes, I know both are nothing short of toxic). But Starbucks is one downfall, and another is the concept of indulgence. I may only indulge in a given thing once a month or so. I’ll have Taco Bell once a month. Chipotle about once a month. A tube of Thin Mints once a month (I ignored two boxes of them for 4 months this spring as I battled down my weight). But the problem comes when I have so many once-a-month indulgences that they start to stack up. The Chipotle burrito won’t kill me, but if it’s bookended by a Starbucks venti frap the day before and fries with dinner the day after, THAT’S BAD!!! Meanwhile, fruit is spoiling on my countertop and salad fixings are going bad in my fridge!!!
So I have to start paying more attention to my caloric intake…ensuring that I’m fueling up enough to power me through a run, and making sure that the calories I’m taking in are packed with other things that are good for me. And this is something I’ve never been good at. It’s going to require a lot of focus…perhaps as much as the actual training will. And one of my problems is that I hate reading about nutrition…it just overwhelms me to try to process all the information you have to keep straight about iron and protein and carbs and sugar and ATP and good vs. bad fats and starches and glycogen and OH MY GOD. Anyone know of a site or a book that could help someone like me???
Okay. I suspect I’m rambling, so I’ll sign off now. All suggestions welcome…and if they talk about proteins or carbs or whatnot, translations into actual food examples of each would be appreciated. Thanks!