Posts Tagged ‘doldrums’

I think it was just this past Monday that I thought to myself:

Self, you’ve haven’t run all week. You’ve got some doldrums going on. Sign up for something and snap your ass out of it!

At the very least, I thought that it would get me up and running to shake my legs out in the interest of making a passable effort.  Ummm…yeah.

So here’s the crybaby list that preceeded this run:

  • Lexington was hard!
  • I’m recovering from Lexington.
  • My back is pretty stiff from bootcamp.
  • WHOA! My back is REALLY STIFF from bootcamp.
  • I did all that yoga when my back was bothering me. Wasn’t a good idea.
  • I can’t go to the gym, the dog needs me.
  • Seriously, the dog needs me.

Sidebar: The dog is fine, by the way. Some stitches in his eye and the headcone of shame until the stitches dissolve. Pills & eyedrops. Yay dog! Way to handle that sedation!

What it all boils down to is that I’ve been feeling LAZZZZZZZZ-EEEE!! about the gym thing this past week. So I just haven’t gone.

Also, there is nothing on that crybaby list that warrants having had too much wine last night. So there’s that too… I went into this run kinda dehydrated, with a wine hangover, not having run for two solid weeks and not having worked out at all for a whole week.  Oh…and it’s kind of a challenging course – a few of those long, slopey hills I suck at.

So, I think, without taking those things into account, I’m really proud of how this run went. Taking those things into account, this run went FREAKIN’ PHENOMENAL. Not a PR – though I think I beat last year’s time by more than a minute. Still waiting on the official results (more than 7 hours after the last 10k-er finished, insert stinky-side-eye at the RD here, here, and here).

I talked myself up all the hills slow & steady. Only 1 walk break at the water stop for about 15 seconds. I kept my positive thinking in gear. While Maine took off and schooled us both, Nash stayed with me for almost the first 2 miles – she was having a pretty rough morning too – so us toughing out our hangovers together was helpful in keeping up the motivation. Then when I was on my own – and hitting a particularly hard spot embarrassingly at around mile 2.5-2.6, I thought about this post from runthisamazingday – and I told myself – you’ve got to go to your well…you’ve got to make it deeper. My god – you’re almost done, just GET THERE! It’s only a 5k!

And then there was the last bend, and the finish line – and it was over. First 5k of the season in the books!

Then there was calf-cramping and a kinda surreal feeling for a little bit, but that was okay because I could have water and bananas then beer and breakfast, then a nap a little later.

As I told Eric, afterward, my body felt like I’d run either really hard or really far, and neither of those things are true. So feeling as bad as I did after was a little confusing.  I’m chalking that up to a lesson from the crybaby list – step away from the wine the night before a run.

BUT – I did keep my mental shit together through the whole thing. That’s growth, people. Not a bad place to start the season.


So the running doldrums have been passing slowly. I stubborned-through some more treadmill time to keep the legs moving and work on focus, then last Tuesday (the 5th) I headed off to running group as usual, talking to myself in the car about what my intention was for the run and half-expecting it to be hard. Another run to stubborn-through. And then it hit me…

What if I didn’t put that on myself before I started running?

*That* thought – that the run would be hard. What if I just didn’t go there? What if I just went to group, and started out slow, and decided to have a good run in whatever form that took? Not worry about what my pack is doing, or what my Garmin is saying, or if I feel tired before I even start. What if I just relax and go? Slow down if I need to. Walk if I really need to. But basically just enjoy the run and see what happens.

I set my Garmin to 3:1 intervals as a safety net in case I started to crash in the heat, but put it on backwards so I couldn’t read the times or worry about pace. I decided to run continuously until I felt the need to do otherwise, then I put myself in the back of the pack and set out slow. And honestly – it was FABULOUS! I just let the run go before I even started so I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself. When I got frustrated at the pace of the people in front of me, I knew it was time to pass & speed up. This made for a nice progressive warm-up. My Garmin beeping off the intervals was comforting somehow – even though I was ignoring it and running continuously. (It was a really nice cue as to when people in front of me were going to drop to a walk, so I could move left when they moved right and not run straight up their asses.) A co-worker of mine was keeping pace with me just over my left shoulder, so when she caught up with me for the third time, I let it be a challenge to keep her behind me, which pushed me into some unplanned fartleks. I ended up passing a lot of people, running continuously on a route I would normally interval, and finishing before TWO of my coaches. IT WAS A REALLY GOOD RUN and one I hadn’t unexpected to have when I laced up my running shoes.

Hmmm. What if I didn’t put on the expectations? What if I just set an intention to have a good run and listen to my body respectfully? That’s some new thinking. I have been really focused on setting intentions lately – to a successful end when I do it – but I hadn’t taken the time to examine how I had tied expectation and intention together…

So, fast forward to yesterday, and I hadn’t run since that last one. D’OH!! I had workouts scheduled, but everything got thrown out the window after Wednesday’s bootcamp when we got offered some EXCELLENT Reds tickets for Thursday and Friday night. In our house – you don’t turn down these kind of seats to baseball. Hot dogs and cheap beer cost me my Thursday night & Saturday morning runs, as well as Friday’s bootcamp. Life and choices. Oh well, I had a good time at the games and I can’t ever be sad about a date with my husband. That’s worth a missed run or two.

Monday’s boot camp was all about shaking off the long slugfest and bad food choices of the weekend. Which took me into Tuesday’s group run having not run for a week and being a bit behind on the fitness routine. The group was doing the first pass of the route for the Hyde Park Blast, which is 3 weeks away. It was 80+ degrees and sunny, and this is a route that challenges me on a few levels. Once again, less than ideal conditions for me. And I started to talk to myself about it on the way there, telling myself again that it would probably be a hard run with the heat and the sun, that I should interval it so I didn’t crash in the heat, that I didn’t make it all the way up Erie hill the last time I did that part of the route, that that hill really sucks…and then I thought, well – I had a really good run last Tuesday, it’s kind of tragic that I let go of that momentum when I could’ve used it for a good run tonight…

And then I stopped again. Could’ve used it? So I can’t use it because I haven’t run since? WHY AM I THINKING THAT?

I haven’t run since, but the last run I had was good. And I didn’t expect it to be. So, why not just soak that up? Soak up a little of that unexpected goodness. What if I don’t put on the expectation that this is hard and instead I just go do it? And I start at the back, and I just let myself be happy with it however it comes to pass? What if I don’t have to expect a damn thing from this run other than that I do it?

Can I set the intention to just do it and not expect anything from it? Kinda label it “lessons to be learned later”? And damned if it didn’t happen again!

After a whole week of not running, I had a pretty damn good run last night! Not particularly fast (though I really don’t know since I had the Garmin on backwards again and haven’t looked at the data from either run) – smart decisions on water stops – talked myself up the ginormous hill that is a trouble spot on that route – couple of fartleks at the end when I didn’t want to get passed – and I felt good about the entire run. It was sooo nice! I ran continuously except for one little spot after a water stop where I gave myself time to burp before I started running again – sometimes you need to let the burp happen, meh.

Interesting. Not the burp. The run thinking is interesting. The burp, most certainly uninteresting.

I still haven’t had that nuclear run yet. The one where the doldrums are finally over and it feels like someone shoved a rocket up your bum. But I am enjoying what’s happening with setting the expectations aside. I need to think on that for a bit and I wonder, do other runners feel that push and pull – of intention v. expectation? Do they run better when they set one over the other? Which is more important? Curious things to consider.



Green Bench

Later on Saturday, after coffee and breakfast, I was perusing Facebook to find a friend of mine lamenting his lack of spark on his P90X2 workout – basically admitting that he wasn’t feeling compelled to do it and had been half-assing some of the workouts. It was his second time through the series. He sounded bored. I commented that it’s really difficult to maintain the level of intensity that P90X requires on a continuous basis and that so long as he was remaining active through “the doldrums”, that was the most important thing. Eventually he’d cycle through and get re-energized or find something inspiring again. I think this is something that everyone who works out goes through – we cycle through intense periods and we cycle through doldrums.

Sleeping through that two mile Blast run was tugging at me and I thought to myself, Self – you’re in a doldrum. That Pig beat you up & you need to beat it back. Take your own advice and get moving. I was also arguing with a wild hair idea that I wanted to go run Lunken that afternoon. Arguing with myself because Lunken is NEVER a satisfying run for me. Why I even thought I wanted to do it, I don’t know. A lot of runners around here like running Lunken – it’s a FLAT 5-mile loop around an airport with options available to extend mileage using out & back offshoots. It’s uninterrupted by roads, lights or stop signs and fabulous for speedwork.

I hate it.

I don’t like flat runs – my booty was made for hills. It’s boring. There is no water anywhere on the loop, so you have to carry water. About 95% of the route is in the sun, unless you go really early or really late. Once in awhile you see a deer or a bunny. That’s the only redeeming factor – I like bunnies. Usually, I get an inclination to run this loop about twice a year, then I run the first mile – get incredibly bored – interval the rest and vow never to do that again. It’s a great walk spot with a friend, but I don’t like running it.

Except for that tugging wild hair saying – go get your run in! go to Lunken! Don’t let the doldrums win!

5 mile loop. In the sun. 75-degrees. Hmmm – that sounds familiar, particularly if you make that 5 miles into 6.84.  And no water. It almost sounded like my brain was setting me up for a rematch of the Pig run. Not having run all week, I knew I didn’t want to do 6.84. In fact, I really wanted to stick with the Blast plan and do the 2 miles, but that didn’t feel right either. Tugging. Get dressed. Tugging. Lace up. Guzzle some water. Tugging. Some sips of Gatorade. Then somehow, I’m in the car and on my way to go run this route that I absolutely can’t stand and not because anyone is making me do it. It’s just tugging at me and I don’t quite know why. All the way there I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with this run. No water on the route in all that sun and heat gives me a good chance of crashing on the far end of the loop if I don’t run smart. No music. I’m still mad at my Garmin for freaking me out but I have it on and have turned it backwards so I can’t really use it. I’ll get the data later because the data isn’t the point of this run.

The point of this run is that I need to do right everything that I did wrong at the Pig. I need to formulate a plan and set a quiet intention. I need to challenge a route that I don’t like and stick to that plan even if the conditions suck & I’m not fueled proper. I need to run smart and LISTEN to myself – act as my own best coach all the way through. I need to get my legs moving and I need to stubborn my way through the doldrums.

I decide that the sheer mind-numbing boredom of this route is challenge enough without trying to work speed or pushing the envelope on the heat. I don’t want to crash on the far end. I decide to run the first 2 miles, walk a mile on the worst part of the run (where the sun is particularly unforgiving), then run the last 2 miles back. That essentially doubles my Blast assignment and reduces the crash risk. It’s also going to give me a workout on my focus – which is the main focus.

From where I am parked, I see a green park bench that will mark the start and end of this task. I use it to stretch out and do some push-ups. Get my mind on. Get moving. I have my mind set on the 1 mile landmark – I am bored before I get there. This is the only route I can name that is worse than a treadmill. I see the 1 mile marker and am sorely tempted to turn back or go straight – options that would give me the 2 mile or 3 mile totals – anything but the turn to the right that will mark heading fully into the loop. I remind myself that this is The Resistance just trying to charm me out of my June PR. I make the turn and focus on one of the two hills on the route – it’s a steep, but very short, incline shortly before the 2 mile point. Once I’m up that incline, there isn’t any point in turning back. Also, I’ll be past the ugly streetside portion and the golfers – a section next to the golf course where I feel like a zoo attraction to the golfers teeing off right next to the path. Only forward. I own that hill. Once upon a time I would’ve been huffing and puffing at the top of that thing fit to die – now I just keeping right on going. My Garmin beeps 2 miles at me and I set a point about a tenth of a mile down the path as my marker. When I get there, I’ll start the walking part. This is the only part of the course where you can really watch the planes take off and land. Two girls who have been behind me since the 1 mile flower urns pass me. I do not like being passed by them, but I have a plan. I need to stick to it. Also, this route is not flat – at least not as flat as everyone thinks. Going clockwise, there is a slight incline almost all the way around. From my vantage, I am reminded of this – I am going up this entire time. On this longest, most boring walk ever. The fact that this portion is a straight shot makes the route feel like one of those hallways that just keeps on going, you think you’re getting to the end but then realize the end is moving farther away from you while you try to reach it. Why am I not at 3 miles yet? Beep 3. Oh – okay. Running now. I want this over with – but again – speed is not the plan. I have realized that I keep picking up speed to reach those two girls, then I remind myself to slow down. It’s still 75-degrees. I’m still in the blazing sun. I still don’t have any water. PACE CONTROL for the win is the name of the game. I play the push and pull game with speed & pace, working mantras, and passing those two girls – who actually glare at me when I do. Oh well – you don’t like it – then catch me! They never caught me. There is a father and son on bikes in the oncoming lane. The father is in front. I watch the kid topple over off the edge of the path into the grass and congratulate him on falling well because that takes skill. Um, dad – your kid fell down went boom! Call me heartless, but I kept on running while I paid the props and alerted the dad. What? He had on a helmet & he fell soft! There was a parent there! If the kid had looked damaged at all, I totally would have stopped. Really! I would! Oh Thank you – the final stretch is the only shady part when you go clockwise! A break from the sun! For 1 minute! 1 minute of shade! Then sun again. And then there’s the park bench – the end point – and I will go strong towards it. I will be stubborn and run every last step towards it and just past it because you don’t stop dead at a finish line.

The plan has been stuck and I’ve met my goal of staying engaged and coaching myself on this dreadful piece of pavement. As a victory celebration, I treat myself to a walk down to the airport super-cold drinking fountain instead of grabbing my hot water from the car. This girl knows how to party!

I haven’t kicked the doldrums, but I have challenged them. They know their days are numbered. Bootcamp yesterday morning. 30 minutes on the dreadmill as a Blast assignment yesterday evening. The dreadmill wasn’t assigned, but it was convenient. While not my running preference, it is a useful tool to control pace when doldrums strike and I need to complete a timed run. Tonight will be another running meet-up with the Blast group and I’ll go do that. 30 minutes. Gotta get it done. Still not feeling excited about it, but if I want that PR in 6 weeks, excited has to take a back seat to stubborn until the doldrums pass. Re-energizing will happen and I intend to be prepared for a really good run when it hits.