Friday, July 29, 2011

Commitment

I had a bad night last night. Not sure why. Usually, at the onset of a virus, before I have any symptoms, I get very agitated and can't sleep at night. I have a few remedies I try to assuage the whole miserable experience but for the most part I just have to wait it out and see how bad the symptoms will be when they come. So after a pretty rough night I felt a bit off but no real viral symptoms so I had a choice to make. I could try to sleep more. I could run. I could just work and rest and call it an off day. This is where commitment kicks in. Especially at the start of a workout regimen, it is very important to establish a rhythm. I am firm believer in the law of inertia. If you don't do much, it is hard to start doing anything. Once you have some momentum behind you, you can easily slip out the door for a run, a workout, or whatever you need to do on even the busiest of days. It's not the physical act of doing it, it's the emotional commitment, the decision process that is paramount. For this reason, feeling a little bit off and pretty heavy legged, I headed out the door for my six miles with strides expecting some sort of disaster like not having a change of pace when I tried to open up on a stride. After about a mile though, I felt like nothing had ever been wrong. I ran just fine; the strides were a bit sluggish but I sped up enough to get into some good speed form. Certain things in life come down to a decision. That decision is voluntary and oftentimes comes quite begrudgingly but after a while, it becomes almost involuntary. After the decision has been weighed and made enough times, I simply know I will do it. There will be no more debate. Just like I know I will eat, breathe, and sleep every day, I know I will head out for my workout barring absolute disaster. When I reach this stage, I know success will follow shortly. I believe this is more than just the physical benefit of the consistent training. There is an emotional aspect at play as well. When I have turned the choice to do all my workouts into a subconscious one, it becomes likewise subconscious that I will get the most out of those workouts, and more importantly, my races. Racing is tough. Hurting enough to run your very best is counter-intuitive. The mind is made to help you avoid pain and in a race you need to override that survival mechanism in order to have your best time. If you choose the easy way out of training, you will sure as heck choose the easy way out in a race. however, if you have made that decision in workouts so many times to just go ahead and push through, so that it becomes automatic, the same decision to push through the pain of racing will be more likely to come automatically. I remember this very clearly from my track 10k last spring. I ran far better than I expected and it actually felt too easy but I think I know why. I never had to choose to push through the pain. the choice was already made so I just pushed without that internal struggle and it seemed relatively easy. I know I am not there yet. Today's run felt 50/50 before I did it. I decided quite a few times not to before I went ahead and got out the door. I know I will have that same dilemma the next time I race. But today was progress. A few more of these and I'll be on my way to auto pilot. More importantly, I have the advantage over those who still have to struggle with the decision. In the middle of a race, they will be going through inner turmoil and I will soon be 100 meters ahead. It's the advantage of thirty years experience. My 17:48 5k is pretty pathetic but most people running that time would be ecstatic to be thirty seconds faster in a month. I fully expect to be sixty seconds faster not exclusively from the physical endurance I will gain from my training, but from the mental tenacity that will come from not accepting no for an answer from myself. They say - and I'll deal with this more later - that it takes twenty-one days to establish a habit. I consider this day five. About two more weeks and I'll be ready to change my place in the running world. The timing works well as I have set a challenge for myself at the end of August. I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

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