I currently have perhaps the lowest amount of running fitness that I’ve had in three or four years. I can literally (and quite sadly) count the number of times I’ve run in 2012 on one hand. While I’ve started working on that, the bottom line is that runs hurt.
My quads hurt and get tired. My heart rate spikes. I’m not really enjoying running right now – because I’m so out of “run shape”. Almost every time I run, I get just a little bit into it, and start having thoughts about stopping.
You know. Thoughts like, “just walk 50 yards.” Or, “I just need to catch my breath.” Many of us fall into this trap. In fact, I suspect it’s thoughts like these that keep lots of folks from ever really getting into shape. They fight with themselves, and eventually just give up. I’m no stranger to these thoughts (as evidenced by my prior writings on the mental aspects of endurance sports).
This morning during my run, the same thing happened. I got about a mile in, and was ready to stop. Only this time I didn’t. Instead of having that internal conversation with myself regarding the merits of walking or not walking, I decided to completely take my mind off of it.
I started counting. Each time my left foot hit, I counted. I counted up to 250 paces, and then started over. I did it until I was done with my 4.5 mile run.
Guess what? It WORKED. Suddenly, my legs didn’t feel as tired. I wasn’t constantly thinking about walking or stopping my run altogether. My breathing became normalized. While I wasn’t wearing my heart rate monitor, I suspect that my rate settled down too.
Perhaps that’s the solution for me. Who knows. I’ve decided, though, that the next time I feel like I need to walk or quit, I’m going to start counting again. And maybe next time I’ll mix it up a little – count once in English, once in French, once in Spanish.
Given that effort, count me as running 1, quitting 0.