Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Linebacker Inside a Runner's Body

I have never liked running.  I often get incredulous looks when I tell people this because they equate general athleticism and an affinity for all team sports with running.  But unless I am chasing down a ball, a frisbee, or an opponent, I don't want to be running.  It's why I prefer to play center midfield in soccer (for all you who think midfield means more running, you clearly have never played center midfield the right way), why I prefer to play lineman or defensive back in football, why I like pickup volleyball more than basketball, and why I'm usually good for about 2 points in ultimate frisbee.  You'd look at me and see a runner.

I have the right shoes, the right tights, the right build...
You'd be wrong.  However, I have commenced training for my first half-marathon (let's be honest, it's my first race above 7k, and the first time I will have ever run more than 5 miles).  I'm determined to set myself up for success.  I bought new shoes, new socks, figured out some good running music, ordered some electrolyte powder for those post-run refueling sessions, and am prematurely plotting my carb loads.  Today, I ran just over 4 miles.  That's the longest I've run in 4 years, and I averaged just a hair under 9 minutes per mile.  To some, that might not be a big accomplishment, but for me, it proves something that just might get me through training and the race: mid-distance running has to be at least 50% mental.

You see, the only timed race I've ever run was the Running of the Green lucky 7k four years ago.  Laura and I trained, albeit modestly, in the 6 weeks leading up to the race.  We averaged a respectable but unimpressive 10 minutes per mile.  After two weeks of "training" involving a handful of 3 mile runs, I just beat that time.  With a side cramp that lasted approximately the entire run.  But I knew that if I couldn't push myself on 4 miles, I couldn't push myself on thirteen.  So, I used willpower to finish the run.  My legs were tired from skiing yesterday, the run finishes on about 3/4 mile of straight uphill, and did I mention the side cramp?  But I finished.  So, despite my continued hatred of running, I will press on, optimistic that if I can't physically be a runner, at least I can try to be one mentally.

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I reserve the right to make this blog as worthless to read as I feel like, and also to write as infrequently as I deem necessary. Just thought I'd let you know since I finally decided to share my blog.