The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

What I’ve Learned (Beyond 5K pt.2)

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The last time I checked in about running was late in the spring when my appetite for running distances greater than 3.1 miles was starting to grow. My goal was to work steadily on mastering 6.2 miles throughout the summer, knock off a number of races, and start to consider myself a 10Ker rather than a 5Ker. It has been a lot easier to write that than it was to live it.  Never one on whom life lessons are easily lost, here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  It’s ridiculous to think in most any aspect of life that you can suddenly double your output with little extra effort and no consequence.

I was lucky to have knocked out a full 10K on my third attempt at practicing it.  It wasn’t so easy the rest of the summer.  Once school let out, I tried to continue running in the mornings (when I run my best), but there never was much motivation to get to bed early the night before–not with Netflix, a laptop computer, a Nook, a cat yammering for my attention, a refrigerator, MLBTV, a Nintendo emulator on my laptop, Words With Friends, The Cider House Rules, The New Yorker, and who knows what else.  When I did run in the mornings, I was still tired from staying up too late the night before.  When I waited until evening, I was tired from daily routines.  Regardless, I’d feel like quitting after the 4th mile.  So I did a lot of times.  Or at least I’d walk for a bit and then run again.  The sudden jump in distance should have been accompanied by a change in routine, which didn’t happen.


I yammer for attention quite often.

2.  I’m 43 years old now, and it feels like it when I run a 10K, .

I pride myself on almost never feeling my actual age.  In fact, I usually feel much younger–5-10 years so.  I credit this to somewhat healthy living, working out a lot, keeping a positive mindset, and being a high school teacher (it’s true–the kids keep you young).  Running has no doubt figured prominently into this equation, especially since I’ve spent the better part of the last four summers running faster than I did when I was 16.  My quest to master 6.2 miles, though, put a serious dent in the facade of my internal fountain of youth.  Each time I tried to run a full 10K, I was afraid that if I sat down afterwards, it would be quite difficult to get back up.  All too often, I splayed out on the carpet in front of the television trying to drink Gatorade without spilling it down my face and neck.  My cat was cool with that, though, because she loves herself some sweat and smelly dry-weave shirts.

photo 2

I loves myself some sweat and smelly dry-weave shirts.

3.  Self-doubt is a great motivator to adjust your thinking.

I hate walking during a run.  Always have.  It makes me feel like a quitter.  In fact, I’ll go further to say that it makes me feel like I’m letting my high school cross country coaches and my team down (we had a rule:  Never Walk).  It makes me feel weak.  It makes me think I’ve overestimated myself.  Spend a whole summer crapping out on long runs, though, and you might start to think differently.  You might start to think that you’re 43 now, and maybe it’s okay to walk sometimes.  Especially when you’re trying to adjust to doing twice what you’re used to doing.

4.  I’m willing to redraft my writing 13.2 times–what’s wrong with redrafting my running that much until I can get it right?

I have a piece of short fiction coming to publication in the next few weeks.  In order to make it publishable, I worked through 13.2 drafts of it.  I’m sure willing to do whatever I have to do to make a story publishable, so what’s wrong with doing whatever I have to do to work up to running 6.2 miles?  Nothing.  That’s why it doesn’t bother me so much now to stop and walk when I need to.  It took me all summer to get to that point in my thinking.

5.  Stubbornness is good.

This came to me on August 10th, when I ran my first official 10K race in 25 years.  I made the turn-around at the 5K mark and felt a huge surge of adrenaline tingling from the back of my head down to the middle of my back.  I felt it twice more before the finish line, and realized that I had made the right decision in seeing whether or not I could run greater distances.  I’d be hard pressed to think of a time recently when runner’s high was so palpable.  Despite my struggles and doubts, when I felt the buzz I knew I had it in me to finish.  I’ve knocked out two more 10K races since then (including one yesterday to finish the summer), and mostly feel great about them.

6.  Stubbornness is bad.

Greater exertion means a greater toll on the body.  I’m finally at the point where I don’t feel like collapsing when I’m done running (though a post-race nap is always in order), but I’m also feeling a familiar discomfort in my Achilles tendon.  Ironic, I know.  There could be a lot of explanations for this, including worn-out orthotics, tight calves, worn-down running shoes, and just a plain old 43-year old, 200-lb body thinking it’s immortal.  I’m sure I’ll find out over the next few weeks what is really going on.  I might end up back in physical therapy, and then repeating this quest all over again.  Insisting on finding my limits, though, definitely figures into all of this.  If not for that stubbornness, if only I had stuck to 5K and been happy with what I had, I might not be worrying about this right now.  But why not find those limits?  Why sit complacently and wonder “What if…?” until the end of days?

What choice do I have when I’m hard-wired like this?

Written by seeker70

September 22, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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