Okay, first to catch up on running. Friday, I made it to my new long distance of 3.44 miles…almost 38 minutes with no walking. Pretty proud of that…it was a repeat of my 5K day, except I was able to keep going for another couple of blocks before walking. That means it’s only another half-mile or so till I hit 4 miles…my next big benchmark. When I realize that it was just over a month ago that I ran a whole mile for the first time in my life, I’m pretty excited about my level of progress.
I ran again this morning (Monday), but didn’t do as well. I did do a full 31 minutes…but the 30-minute run that used to be my ultimate goal (what, two weeks ago?) is now my minimum, my baseline. I’m already being tough on myself (see comment in this paragraph’s opening sentence, above) on days when I only do 30 minutes…partially because at my pace, that’s less than 3 miles, and partially because I have this thing in my head that says that every time I run, I should go farther or longer than I did the last time…or, if not more, then at least as much.
I suspect this is not good.
I’ve recently downloaded a few books onto my Kindle…books recommended at the back of NRMT. Some are running books, others are psychology-type books…many are a blend of the two. Most talk about concepts like visualization, self-talk, perspective, and the idea that what one believes about oneself creates one’s reality of self. Every one of them so far has at least touched on the idea that positive thinking is imperative to success in a difficult endeavor like training for a marathon. Every one of them! Not a single one of these authors would be pleased with me for “being tough on myself” and berating myself for a run that is more or less on par with where I am in my training at the moment. I mean, at this point, the pre-training (I have two weeks from today before beginning the actual marathon training program), my job is to run 30-minute routes, consistently…ideally, four times a week. And here I am claiming that 30 minutes is a minimum.
I guess I’m afraid of being too easy on myself. I didn’t feel great running today. I really wanted to quit earlier than 30 minutes! In fact, in full confession, I stopped at about 25 and walked for 15 seconds or so before forcing myself to start up again and re-start the watch! That’s good…but I guess I worry that just this sort of mindset will be dangerous to me later on. If a less-than-3-mile route has me struggling, and I can’t mentally overcome the discomfort and push myself, what am I going to do when I’m facing a 10-mile run? Or a 16? My level of determination will have to increase along with my stamina.
And it will, right? That was my dad’s point when I gave him the report. He urged me not to be so tough on myself…reminded me that I was just starting out, that I was doing really well, that I was making great progress…and he’s probably right. Yes, I need to be tough and determined, and I need to push myself, but I also think I need to learn to be kinder to myself, too…give myself more kudos and encouragement and do what NRMT calls “try easier,” instead of “try harder.” I like that concept, actually…they talk about “trying easier” in terms of relaxing, finding the flow, and trying to have fun with the running. (Those of you who’ve known me a long time, are you blown away by the fact that I just stated that I’m trying to have fun running?) But they’re right. They also say that at the end of a run, I’m supposed to do my best to flood myself with good feelings like pride in my accomplishment and in my growing strength and success…so that the next time I have to lace up, I’ll subconsciously be associating the impending run with the memory of those good feelings.
So this is what I know. But still, it’s a hard line to walk, and it’ll take me a while to get the hang of holding myself accountable and being kind to myself at the same time. When I type it out, it doesn’t seem so hard…redefine my idea of pushing myself by making it encouraging and – cheerleader-ish? Instead of thinking, “Come on, you wimp, keep going! How do you expect to run a marathon if you can’t do three miles?” I’m supposed to think, “Look how far I’ve come already! This isn’t hard at all! I feel great! I bet I can make it another block / to the bend in the road / to the top of that hill!”
Why is that hard for me?